I love middle school anthologies. The stories selected are usually interesting, engaging from the start, easy to understand, and brief—even by short story standards.
I like them regardless of the year they were published. I especially like finding an old one that I have never seen before. It doesn’t matter if they are new and expensive, or second-hand and cheap, or what country they are for. It’s always a treat to look through the table of contents of a middle school story collection.
Some of the books on this page blur the line between middle and high school, or might lean more to high school students. I don’t know if these books were all published as school readers, but they are all of that type.
Here are some of the ones I’ve found, most of which I own. I hope you discover a new book of stories.
1. “Little Worlds: A Collection of Short Stories for the Middle School” contains 30 stories. Part 1 has 2 representative stories for each of the usual story elements of plot, character, setting and atmosphere, point of view, irony, symbol, and theme. Part 2 has a further 16 selections.
This book has a lot of often-seen stories, (The Sniper, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, The Lottery, Miss Brill, The Gift of the Magi, The Monkey’s Paw, The Story of an Hour, Through the Tunnel, To Build a Fire, The Necklace, & The Open Window) so it’s great if you don’t own many anthologies.
2. “Currents in Fiction” has 22 stories. According to my experience, 8 of them are more commonly seen and the other 14 are lesser-seen. After each story there are sections for questions for discussion, vocabulary growth, and suggestions for compositions.
3. “Stories to Remember” has 16 stories arranged in sections (suspense, mood, theme, the west, sports, young people, & the future). At the most I would only consider 5 of the selections to be common. A highlight for me was The Bishop’s Silver, a part of the novel Les Misérables, sometimes excerpted as a short story. It’s one of the most powerful and memorable things I’ve ever read. It also has sections of questions, vocabulary, and writing topics after each story.
4. “Stories to Enjoy” has 16 stories. I think my edition is the original because it only has 12. This collection is mostly lesser-seen selections. It has the same after-story features as the last book.
5. “Inside Stories Volumes 1-4” are UK published anthologies and, as such, contain lots of stories I don’t usually see. Volume 2 has 26 stories and is aimed at ages 11-14. Volume 3 has 39 selections, some of them very short fables and parables, and is aimed at ages 14-16. Volume 4 has 45 selections, some of them very short, and is aimed at age 16 and up. I don’t have volume 1.
6. “Inside Stories 1 & 2 and For Senior Students” is a different series from the one above and is published in Canada.
Volume 1 has 24 stories, many of which you probably don’t see much if you’re used to American anthologies. There are questions to consider after each. This one’s special for me because it’s the anthology that got me interested in short stories. When I was a kid I read The Veldt, Wish You Were Here, The Friday Everything Changed, The Interlopers & Barney in this collection. I still have fond memories of all of them.
Volume 2 has 31 stories and again many aren’t commonly anthologized. Only 3 of the stories are ones that I see frequently. There are questions to consider for each story.
For Senior Students has 34 stories. Only 6 of them are really common. One highlight is that it has War by Luigi Pirandello, which a great story that isn’t seen much.
7. “Breaking Free: A Cross-Cultural Anthology” has 31 stories and 12 poems. This one is also Canadian so many of the stories will probably be new to you. A highlight is Call Me, where two really busy people talk mostly through their answering machines and impersonal face-to-face meetings. Written over 25 years ago, it seems even more relevant now. Two other standouts are The Stolen Party and So What Are You, Anyway?
8. “Scholastic Read-Aloud Anthology” has 35 short selections—stories, poems, articles and other writings. Perfect for filling an empty 5-10 minutes. Geared towards younger students.
9. “Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School: 35 Selections . . .” is like #8. A variety of selections with a teaching page for each.
10. “Short Stories: Characters in Conflict” has its own page.