Short Stories About Childhood, Kids or Children

These stories feature children, usually preteens, and childhood experiences and perceptions. For an entirely different perspective, see:

Stories About Childhood

The Griot of Grover Street: Part 1 by Kwame Mbalia

Fort Jones, a young boy, runs out crying from Aunt Netta’s funeral. She was one of the bright spots of the neighborhood, known for her friendliness, singing and desserts. In his haste, Fort crashes into an unusual old man. He was carrying a big glass jar with him. He’s concerned that the joy has spilled out. Fort’s mother comes along and tell him to help refill the jar.

This story can be read in the preview of Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood.

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.

This is the first story in the preview of The Toys of Peace and Other Papers.

An Encounter | James Joyce

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

This is the second story in the preview of Dubliners.

“Bugle Song” by Wallace Stegner

A boy is out after breakfast checking his gopher traps. He’s won the school prize two years running for killing the most gophers. He also keeps a weasel that he feeds live gophers to. While waiting, he reads his book of poetry.

This story can be read in the preview of Still Wild: Short Fiction of the American West . . . (20% in)

The Story of the Bad Little Boy | Mark Twain

Contrary to what we would expect, a boy fails to learn valuable lessons although he misbehaves constantly.

This is the second story in the preview of Book of Mark Twain’s Short Stories.

The Fun They Had | Isaac Asimov

In the year 2157 Tommy finds a real book. It is about how school was in the old days. He and Margie talk about how different school used to be with human teachers.

This story can be read in the preview of 50 Short Science Fiction Tales(Pg. 25)

There’s Going to Be a Fight in the Cafeteria on Friday and You Better Not Bring Batman by Lamar Giles

Cornell almost misses his bus stop because he’s going over his list of superheroes. He was picked for the game on Friday, where students choose superheroes to face off against each other. The problem is, you can’t repeat names, and there aren’t many options left. He looks to his brother for help.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood(60% into preview)

“In the House of the Seven Librarians” by Ellen Klages

The Carnegie Library was a staple of its town for decades. A new, more conveniently placed library was eventually opened. The Carnegie Library was closed, but the seven librarians remained. They continued with their work. The unkept grounds grown until the forest closes in around the building. They live in the same comfortable routine until one day a new resident arrives.

This fantasy story can be read in the preview of Ex Libris: Stories of Librarians, Libraries and Lore(33% in)

“Child’s Play” by Edmund Crispin

Judith has just been hired as governess at the Snyder household. She’ll be caring for the three Snyder children—Eve, Tony and Camilla—and Pamela Catesby, who’s parents were killed a month ago. Judith has misgivings about Mrs. Snyder and her children, but she likes Pamela immediately. Judith tries to help Pamela acclimate to her new home. She also wants to find out what happened to her parents.

This story can be read in the preview of Bodies in the Library 4(13% in)

“The Rockpile” by James Baldwin

Johnny and Roy live across the street from a mass of natural rock, known as the rockpile. It’s a popular play spot for the neighborhood kids. The boys are warned to stay away from it by their parents, who think it’s dangerous. One day while sitting on the fire escape, some of Roy’s friends ask him to come with them.

This story can be read in the preview of Going to Meet the Man: Stories(14% in)

“The Outing” by James Baldwin

The church holds an annual community gathering, usually on the Fourth of July. This year it’s a boat trip up the Hudson and a stay at Bear Mountain. Johnnie and Roy, as well as their friend David, are going with their parents. The boys have saved money to get a present for another friend, Sylvia. There are also some church services on the boat.

Some of this story can also be read in the preview of Going to Meet the Man: Stories(55% in)

“Charles” by 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. (Summary & Analysis)

Read here

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.

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.

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.

Read here (PDF Pg. 3)

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.

Read “Games at Twilight”

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.

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 neighborhood.

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.

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.

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.

Pilon | Sandra Cisneros

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

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”

The Rocket | Ray Bradbury

Fiorello Bodini wakes at night and goes outside to listen to the rockets flying to Mars, Saturn and Venus. He’s a junk dealer, but has managed to save enough money to send one family member on a rocket ride. An acquaintance tells him this is doomed to fail because the rest of the family will resent whoever goes. His children are excited about the possibility.

Buttony | Fiona McFarlane

The children in Miss Lewis’s class want to play Buttony, a game they all love. She asks Joseph, a popular, good looking boy, to get the special button from her desk drawer. He handles it reverently. The students line up to go outside so they can start the game.

The Peaches | Dylan Thomas

Dylan, a ten-year-old boy, is spending the summer at his aunt and uncle’s farm. He hangs out with his cousin Gwilym, who’s almost twenty and wants to be a minister, and his best friend Jack, who’s also visiting. Jack’s family has more money.