Short Stories About Childhood

These stories feature children, usually preteens, and childhood experiences and perceptions.

Short Stories About Childhood, Kids or Children

The Story of the Bad Little Boy | Mark Twain

Contrary to what we would expect, a boy goes unpunished although he misbehaves constantly.

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In the Zoo | Jean Stafford

A visit to a zoo reminds two sisters of a childhood friend, an alcoholic with a lot of animals, who gave them a puppy. Their foster mother had a bad effect on the dog.

Charles | Shirley Jackson

Laurie starts kindergarten and comes home every day with stories of a classmate, Charles, who’s constantly getting in trouble for being “fresh”. Laurie’s parents wonder about Charles’ parents and worry that he’s a bad influence on their son.

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A Way Out of the Forest | Maara Haas

Rouga and Arnie, young siblings living in poverty without much adult involvement, make a game out of their situation by pretending they live in a tent in the cold and are waiting for provisions.

First Confession | Frank O’Connor

A seven-year-old boy, Jackie, has to make his first confession before taking Communion. Jackie is concerned because he doesn’t like his grandmother, who has recently come to live with him, and an elderly woman has impressed upon him the seriousness of his confession.

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Enemy Territory | William Melvin Kelley

Young Tommy is sent on an errand by his mother; he is to take Mister Bixby’s hat back to him. This means crossing the street onto the turf of Valentine’s gang, a group of neighborhood kids.

My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn | Sandra Cisneros

A young Hispanic girl has a friend named Lucy whom she admires and tries to imitate.

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An Encounter | James Joyce

Two boys skip school to walk around Dublin. They experience social activities and interact with the people they meet.

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The Toys of Peace | Saki

Eleanor doesn’t want her children playing with toy guns or soldiers. She asks her brother to give her children peaceful toys for Easter. They’re not sure what to make of the gift.

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A Child in the Dark and a Foreign Father | Henry Lawson

On New Year’s Eve, a father comes home to find his house and children have been neglected by his wife because she’s “bad again in the head”. His oldest son has done some chores and attempted some housework. The man attends to his wife, children and house.

Read “A Child in the Dark and a Foreign Father”

Games at Twilight | Anita Desai

Some children in Bombay play a game of hide-and-seek. One of the children, Ravi, manages to squeeze into a shed and he’s certain that he will win the game.

Celia Behind Me | Isabel Huggan

Celia is a chubby, diabetic young girl. The narrator, Elizabeth, has been ordered by her mother to be nice to Celia. Elizabeth doesn’t like Celia at all and tries to avoid being ostracized by her classmates. The mental strain escalates, bringing Elizabeth to a breaking point.

A Visit of Charity | Eudora Welty

A teenage girl makes a visit to an Old Ladies’ Home. It is a part of her duties as a Campfire Girl and she will receive points for the visit. She is shown in to a room with two elderly residents. The visit is unnerving.

Read “A Visit of Charity”

To Every Thing There is a Season | Alistair MacLeod

The narrator recounts a time when he was eleven, living on a farm, with Christmas approaching. The father hasn’t been well for over two years. The family is eagerly awaiting the return of the eldest brother, Neil, who works on a boat.

My Oedipus Complex | Frank O’Connor

An adult narrator talks about his boyhood with his mother while his father was away at war. He was close to his mother, and his father’s occasional visits didn’t disrupt his routine. He wanted a baby in the house because all the other families had one.

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Stolen Day | Sherwood Anderson

The narrator remembers a boy in his area who had inflammatory rheumatism, which prevented him from going to school but didn’t interfere with going fishing. The narrator passes him one morning on his way to school. His back and legs begin to hurt; by recess he is aching all over.

“Stolen Day”

Blackberries | Leslie Norris

A mother takes her son to get his first real haircut, and then takes him cap shopping.

Penny in the Dust | Ernest Buckler

A father gives his son a shiny new penny. The boy plays with it outside, burying it and digging it up again, but one time he can’t find it.

Read “Penny in the Dust”

The Circus | Katherine Anne Porter

A child, Miranda, is taken to her first circus. She’s overwhelmed by the sensations of the event and gets frightened.

The Doll’s House | Katherine Mansfield

The Burnell children are given a beautiful doll house as a gift. They are allowed to bring their classmates to see it, so they choose who gets to come to their house.

Read “The Doll’s House”

That Summer | Safia Moore

The narrator remembers a summer he was sure someone would die. He is outside with Ivan when Noel comes by asking if they want to see Mrs. Walsh topless. The Walsh’s were the only Catholic family in their Protestant neighbourhood.

Read “That Summer” (Page 12)

Beauty is Truth | Anna Guest

Jeanie, a high school student, deals with her little brother and her household duties, while thinking about the subject of her writing assignment – truth and beauty and life.

“Beauty is Truth”

Doe Season | David Michael Kaplan

Andy, a nine-year-old girl, goes out early with her family one morning on a hunting trip. Andy has a way with animals – they’re drawn to her. Her father’s friend Charlie doesn’t understand why she’s with them.

Read “Doe Season”

The Found Boat | Alice Munro

The Wawanash River overflows its banks every spring. Eva and Carol wade into the water with some boys from school. They find a damaged rowboat. They boys lug it to a backyard and fix it up.

Read “The Found Boat”

Trying to Save Piggy Sneed | John Irving

The narrator became a writer because of his grandmother’s kindness and a retarded garbage collector from his neighborhood when he was young. The man was Piggy Sneed. He lived with his pigs and acted like them too. The children took pleasure in teasing and scaring him.

Read “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed”

Maybe Next Year | Norman Mailer

A boy goes walking in a field and along the train tracks when his parents start arguing. The husband is berated for not making enough money and not spending time with the boy. Many people are out of work; the boy is warned to stay away from the filthy and diseased old men in the area.

Read “Maybe Next Year” (scroll back a bit)

Pilon | Sandra Cisneros

The narrator remembers a feeling from her childhood when she was unselfconscious about her body and appearance.

Read “Pilon”

Pretty Dick | Marcus Clarke

It is a very hot day on the Australian plains. Pretty Dick, a young boy, goes to the creek in the morning. Although he knows the area well, he gets disoriented.

Read “Pretty Dick”

Eventually, I hope these pages will become a teaching resource.