Short Stories About Childhood

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

These stories might interest an avid reader, or might be suitable short stories for middle school kids.

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.

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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.

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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.

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”

See also: The Doll’s House (Class), The Circus (Fear)


I will try to add more stories about childhood that could be helpful for teaching reading and reading comprehension to middle and high school students. Eventually, I hope these pages will become a teaching resource.