Here are some short stories for teenagers. There’s a mixture of modern stories and older ones. Many short stories for teenagers feature teenage characters, but they don’t have to. I hope you find something enjoyable here. See also:
Short Stories for Teenagers
“Heartburn” by E. M. Lacey
Nine-year-old Anala has broken her grandmother’s rules: don’t answer the door; don’t even look out the peephole. The popular girl, Summer, started talking to her, which led to her breaking the household rules and ending up in the back of a van. She doesn’t know why they want her. She’s not pretty like Summer. She has features she doesn’t like.
“Heartburn” can be read in the preview of Girls of Might and Magic: An Anthology by Diverse Books.
“Cookie Cutter Superhero” by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Joey has a newfound celebrity status at school. She’s reminded of her first day when everyone was interested in her left arm. It’s her last day for at least six months. She’ll be going to live at Sky Tower with the team. Her friends speculate about who she’ll become and who she’ll be replacing. There’s a lot of uncertainty and excitement about Joey’s new path.
This story appears in the anthology Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories. It’s the first story in the free Amazon preview in the link above.
“How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court Into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium” by Matt De La Pena
It’s summer and school is over. You did well even though all you really care about is basketball. All your free time is spent practicing. You want to be even better next year, in high school. You overhear people talking about a high-level game that’s played in Balboa Park.
The beginning of this story can be read in the preview of the anthology Flying Lessons & Other Stories.
“The Birds of Azalea Street” by Nova Ren Suma
The police questioned three teenage girls about the murder. No one is connecting it to the birds. The girls had been wary of Leonard for some time. The adults just thought he was a nice guy. The girls saw a car pull into his driveway in the middle of the night. He had a female guest, which was unusual for him.
This story can be read in the preview of Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.
“Sleepstalk” by Courtney Summers
The narrator goes to Jed Miller’s and stares up at his window. She’s supposed to stay away from him. Jed opens the front door and looks right at her. She’s curious how he’ll react to her. He walks down his front path to the street and goes right by her without any acknowledgement. He’s sleepwalking. She follows him. She thinks about their history and her accident.
“Sleepstalk” is the first selection in the anthology Defy the Dark. It can be read in the Amazon preview.
“Button, Button” by Richard Matheson
A hand addressed package is left at the door of Arthur and Norma Lewis. Inside is a contraption with a button on it, and a note saying that Mr. Steward will call on them at 8 PM. He arrives at the appointed time and makes them a startling proposition.
This is the first story in the preview of The Box: Uncanny Stories.
“Alex in Afghanistan” by Anthony Horowitz
Alex Rider, a fourteen-year-old, is sitting at a fire with five men. They’re in Afghanistan at the Herat Mountains. They’re eating and resting after traveling by horseback from the border. The men—Afghan nomads—have been paid to take him to Falcon’s Edge. There’s a facility deep in the mountains that could be producing uranium, which will then be sold to terrorists. Why Alex has been chosen for this mission, he doesn’t know.
This story is in Alex Rider: Secret Weapon: Seven Untold Adventures From the Life of a Teenage Spy.
“Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon” by Ken Liu
Yuan tells her younger sister, Se, a bedtime story. Se wants to hear about the Qixi Festival because it’s tonight. In the story a young woman and young man fall in love, get married and have two sons. The woman neglects her duties as a weaver of sunset clouds. The Emperor of Heaven separates the couple as a punishment. When the story ends, Yuan leaves the apartment to go meet Jing. It’s her last night in China.
Most of this story can be read in the Amazon preview above. It’s the second entry. If you read it I bet you’ll look for the ending, like I did.
“Severe Weather Warning” by Emily Wibberly and Austin Seigemund-Broka
Prosper, seventeen, is about to drive her sixteen-year-old sister, Patience, to the airport. Patience has landed a summer internship in New York. It’s time to go, but she’s upstairs with her boyfriend, who stopped in to say goodbye. Although a year younger, Patience always seems to be ahead of her sister. To make matters worse, a personal complication arises as well as a tornado warning.
“Severe Weather Warning” is the first story in the Amazon preview of That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined.
“The Last Leaf” by O. Henry
An apartment building in Greenwich Village is popular with artists. One of the tenants, Joanna, gets pneumonia. The doctor doesn’t like her chances. She can see a vine from her deathbed window. She says she’s going to die when the vine loses its last leaf.
This is the fourth story in the preview of 50 Greatest Short Stories.
“No Soy Loco” by Maria Acevedo
Victor is meeting with Dr. Kleinman, a psychiatrist. Victor started hearing voices after getting hit in the head during baseball practice. He hears a discussion in a language he doesn’t know.
This story can be read in the preview of You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens. (27% in)
“Never Have I Ever” by Karen M. McManus
Grace is at Katie’s party after curfew, but it’s ok because her parents are away. They start playing Never Have I Ever, and Grace gets teased a bit for not having any fun because she hasn’t done any of the things that come up. The group gets a surprise when they hear the voice of Caleb Manning, who’s known for getting into trouble. Grace invited him.
This story can be read in the preview of Up All Night: 13 Stories Between Sunset and Sunrise. (8% in)
“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell
Rainsford is on a ship headed for the Amazon. He’s a big-game hunter. While on the afterdeck smoking his pipe, he hears the sound of gunshots in the distance. When he investigates, an accident puts him in a dangerous situation.
This is one of the classic adventure stories for young adults. If it’s new to you, enjoy! If you’ve read it before it might be worth revisiting.
Read “The Most Dangerous Game”
“Nemesis” by Kirsten Miller
The narrator is investigating a new client, Clea. She watches as Clea exits her school and heads for the bus stop. She rushes and looks fearful. A group of girls spot Clea and follow her. The narrator takes some pictures. Clea gets on the bus but the driver waits for the others. The narrator gets on as well. She runs a website called NEMESIS, which exposes bullies. She intends to gather the evidence she needs.
“Nemesis” is the first selection in the anthology Cornered: 14 Stories of Bullying and Defiance. Most of the story can be read in the Amazon preview.
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
On a summer morning, citizens of a small village are anticipating the annual “lottery”, a local tradition that is believed to bring a good harvest. The children gather first, making their usual preparations. The women and men arrive and make sure their whole family is present. Mr. Summers arrives with the black wooden box.
This story can be read in the preview of Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories. (10% in)
“The Escape” by J. B. Stamper
Boris is being led down a long hallway to the solitary confinement cell. He was caught in an escape attempt. He’s terrified of his punishment and begs to be spared. He promises he’ll never do anything wrong again.
“Nature” by Aprilynne Pike
The narrator is getting a physical. She lives in New Horizon, the longest lasting community since the Great Collapse. Her hip measurement is going to lower her final score. She had her heart set on being a Nurture but her growth spurt at sixteen put her score in the range of a Nature. This changes her life path considerably. Nurtures, Natures and Laborers all have different roles. She adjusts to this development.
“Nature” is the second selection in the anthology Defy the Dark. It can be read in the Amazon preview in the link above.
“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury
A family lives in a futuristic house that automatically meets all their needs, including a nursery for the children that can create any scene they want. The parents are thinking about reducing their reliance on technology by taking a break from the nursery and all the automation, but the children are against the idea.
“The Last Day” by Ellen Oh
Kenji has breakfast with his mother and five-year-old sister but there isn’t much food. From the hallway they can hear the voice of Mrs. Ueda, chairwoman of the Women’s Brigade. She claims children to fight for the Emperor. Kenji’s last brother was taken a year ago. They’re relieved she’s come for one of the neighbors. Kenji leaves for a job with his friend Akira, who has a knack for finding supplies.
“The Last Day” is the first selection in the anthology Diverse Energies. It can be read in the Amazon preview above.
“Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin
Simon Kress lives alone outside the city. He likes unusual and exotic pets. After his last trip his animals died. He finds a new shop, Wo and Shade Importers, where he is shown sandkings, an insect-sized life-form with a hivemind that fights wars with other colonies.
This story is novelette length, but it didn’t feel like it to me.
“Freshee’s Frogurt” by Daniel H. Wilson
Jeff Thompson is in the hospital. He’s interviewed by Officer Blanton regarding a robot malfunction. He was working a shift at Freshee’s Frogurt near closing time when a domestic robot came in. It was behaving a bit unusually and it locked the door behind it. Jeff’s coworker was in the back. The robot headed straight for Jeff.
“Freshee’s Frogurt” is one of the chapters in the novel Robopocalypse but it can be read as a short story on its own. It’s available in the Amazon preview. (coarse language warning)
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce
A captured man stands on a railroad bridge in Alabama. A swift river flows below. Federal soldiers surround him. The man, a civilian, is going to be hanged. He’s standing on a plank that’s being held in place by a sergeant. He thinks about his wife and children, and wonders if there’s a way to escape. The signal is given for the sergeant to step aside.
Read “An Occurrence . . .” (Includes Analysis)
“One Small Step” by Aime Kaufman
The narrator, Zaida, is a seventeen-year-old girl living on Mars. As the first human born there, she’s a celebrity back on Earth. She has billions of followers who look forward to her updates. Her parents want her to go to Harvard. She’s not sure what she wants to do. Zaida goes out on inspection duty with her best friend, Keiko. One of the airlocks blows, hitting Keiko and damaging her suit.
This is the first selection in Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology. It has 10 stories including fantasy and science fiction. “One Small Step” can be read in the Amazon preview above.
“Clean Sweep Ignatius” by Jeffrey Archer
When Ignatius Agarbi is appointed Nigeria’s Minister of Finance no one notices. No previous minister had lasted long or accomplished much. Ignatius vows to root out corruption, even among the highest levels of authority. After catching several offenders, General Otobi gives Ignatius a special assignment.
Read “Clean Sweep Ignatius” (Page 9)
“The Long Road” by Heidi Heilig
A family rides camels through a desert in China. They’re headed for Persia. The daughter has bad fate and her secret is out. It brings shame on her and her family. She wears many amulets to help her. There’s a treatment in Persia. Her parents sold everything to make this journey.
This is the first selection in the anthology Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens. It can be read in the Amazon preview.
“The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury
Leonard Mead takes long evening walks. He never meets up with anyone. Everyone stays inside watching T. V. He walks noiselessly so as not to draw any attention. On this particular walk, a voice calls out to him.
This very short dystopian story shows a world where something normal has become pathologized.
“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl
Mrs. Maloney has everything ready for her husband. She always looks forward to his coming home from work at about 5 PM. Today, he acts a bit differently and is in a disagreeable mood. He tells her to sit down. He has important news.
“Grace” by Darcie Little Badger
The narrator recounts an incident from eighth grade. It started her first day in a new school. She stood out as being different, being of Lipan Apache descent. She joined the chess club and ended up playing with Brandon. It became a regular thing.
“Grace” is the first story in the Amazon preview of Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance.
“School Shooter” by Dr. Harper
A therapist has been treating a high school boy, Alex, for about a year. He was rejected by a girl and is very angry. Suddenly, he’s calmer because he claims to have figured things out. The therapist is concerned about what this means. He makes a questionable ethical decision to investigate.
Some of “School Shooter” can be read in the Amazon preview of “I’m a Therapist, and My Patient is Going to be the Next School Shooter.” (This book is fiction, and the author is not really a doctor.)
“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant
Mathilde is unhappy with her position in life. She can’t afford the luxuries she desires. When her husband secures an invitation to a party, she’s upset. She has nothing to wear. They come up with a way for her to get a nice dress and a necklace.
Read “The Necklace”
“Siege Etiquette” by Katie Cotugno
The police pull up outside of the Campbell’s house during a party. The partygoers turn off the lights and hide in the basement. The narrator heads upstairs and hides in the bathroom. Already there is Wolf Goshen, a student she’s never talked to. He attends school half the year and spends the other half working on a farm.
You can get a sense of this story from the Amazon preview of the anthology Meet Cute, but it’s incomplete. (coarse language warning)
“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe
Prince Prospero and his nobles have retreated to an abbey. The doors are sealed. Outside, a plague is killing everyone. Death is painful and swift. The Prince decides to throw a party.
Read “The Masque of the Red Death”
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America
17 short stories of “… teens examining, rebelling against, embracing, or simply existing within their own idea of Blackness.”
His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined
This anthology has modern interpretations of 13 Poe stories. Some of his best known tales are paralleled, including “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Masque of the Red Death”, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”. It also contains the original stories for easy comparison.
Owning It: Stories About Teens with Disabilities
I’ll keep adding short stories for teenagers as I find them.