Kids love stories. They are filled with fun and adventure, even if the main characters never leave their home.
Short stories are particularly great for 3rd graders because they can discuss important concepts without droning on about the metaphor.
These stories can help children think critically about literature without going past their reading age.
Instead of making reading a chore, choose a short story to draw them in. Short stories can keep them entertained without demanding too much of their time.
And in the end, they can feel a sense of accomplishment for completing their booklet.
The Lottery – A Dystopian Classic
The Lottery is set in a beautiful countryside town, where school children are gathering for a day of festivities.
The lottery is about to commence, and no one wants their name picked.
In a stark contrast from beautiful and serene life to dramatic moral questions, this story asks its readers to look into tradition and the concept of “fairness”.
A Sound Of Thunder – Suspense
This short story is dialogue heavy and a great example of how a character’s reaction can tell the reader what is happening, instead of using a description.
A story about a time machine gone wrong, the story handles complex views on time while mixing in fun topics such as dinosaurs.
Impossible To Train – Simple
Impossible To Train is a very simple short story, perfect for readers who struggle with long texts.
It’s a simple story about three friends and their dogs. Instead of using this story to teach about literature or social interactions, Impossible to Train is best used to help kids remember what they have read.
Charles – Plot Twist
In this short story, we follow a conversation between parent and child. They discuss their day but through miscommunication and purposeful redirection, the parent and the audience are lied to.
As the story continues, we see inconsistencies with the original tale until the truth finally reveals itself.
Tell the children to read through this story once, and then read through it again, knowing how it ends.
The Necklace – Historical
The Necklace follows the story of a middle-class woman trying to navigate through her social life knowing her only value is to be charming.
In a time when “climbing the social ladder” is her only job opportunity, our main character struggles with falling behind on her social expectations.
MVP – Team Work
MVP follows a basketball team and their struggle to win during a pivotal game. Although the story is called MVP or Most Valuable Player, we watch as the team realizes a single person cannot win the game – they need to work as a team.
Test – Action
This story follows a driver on a road, taking his normal drive around town. However the road gets dangerous, and poor decisions and bad luck lead to disaster.
The plot twist at the end will leave the readers dumbfounded.
Click Clack The Rattlebag – Nonsensical
For a bit of fun and light reading, you should consider this classic short story by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is an iconic child’s writer, and this story is perfect for a gothic theme.
We follow a parent and child telling spooky stories to one another.
An Honest Mistake – Moral Judgement
Karie is a studious girl that wants to win the spelling championship. She has just 3 more worlds to go. At the last minute, she changes her answer from Honesty to Honestly.
Throughout the story, we see puns and play-on-words between these two words as guilt runs through Karie’s body.
Ruthless – Revenge
This story by William DeMille is a crowd-pleaser. We follow a crazed husband and his possessive thoughts about his property.
Planning to take down the helpful handyman, his ruthless plot doesn’t go as expected.
Names/Nombres – Identity
Short stories are the perfect way to show a snippet of someone’s life. Here Julia Alvarez talks about the butchering of her family’s name as they move to New York City.
She then watches as her family and the people she knows deal with the embarrassment and hurt pride when dealing with the social awkwardness of these mistakes.
What can you do and who do you become, when someone changes your name?
Stray – Abandonment
In this story of abandonment and hope we follow a young family as they discover a stray. Doris, the youngest, wants to keep him, but the family cannot afford to feed one another.
Moral dilemmas and hard conversations bring forward an emotional story.
Liars Don’t Qualify – Dystopian
Junius Edwards does a fantastic job of discussing how peer pressure is alive and kicking outside of school.
Charlie wants to vote and yet throughout his journey, the office officials try to deter him and make assumptions about him.
It’s an aggravating story that will show your students the importance of their voice, and how social pressure can affect anyone.
Marble Champ – Hard Work
By Gary Soto, this short story is an inspirational piece about finding something you enjoy and working hard at it.
In the story, Lupe is a very smart girl. She can read better than her class, spell better, and has a sharp mind. But in sports, she’s dragging behind.
Determined to compete in a social sport, Lupe focuses her mind on Marbles.
She works very hard to strengthen her thumb muscles, proving that hard work pays off.
The Sniper – Suspense
This story is somewhat graphic so judge for yourself whether your child can handle the story.
It begins during the Irish Civil War as an experienced sniper has to use his knowledge to escape.
Living during wartime and being active in the horrors will leave you with emotional scars. This story shows the brutality of war and how the fear lives on for years after the war ends.
They’re Made Out Of Meat – Comedy
This hilarious story follows two aliens as they try to figure out humans and the world below. The absurd way in which they describe our life brings humor to mundane activities and sheds a ridiculous light on the silly things we do.
If you’re a teacher and you need something to help your children get engaged in writing, this is the perfect story.
Use it as inspiration and encourage the kids to write about their life as if they were an alien studying their every move.
Or perhaps give them the task of describing what an alien would see if they were watching a birthday party or sporting event.
Thank You, Ma’am – Dialogue And Diction
This story follows an older woman and a young man who tries and fails to steal from her. Instead of taking him to the police station or kicking him to the curb, she instead decides to take him under her wing.
From posh to poor, we see how the dialogue and diction of each character easily tell us a lot without saying much at all.
If you’re a teacher, you can use this story as an example of people and how their location or social influence can change the way they speak. Ask them to reimagine the story based on two other opposing concepts.
The Fun They Had – Futuristic
Isaac Asimov’s short story uses books as an insight into the future and how things could change. It uses technology similar to what we have today, alongside a change in social structures that makes schools obsolete.
It’s a great short story for comparing and contrasting what these futuristic people think and what we think now, as the people of tomorrow try to understand us.
Lord Oakhurst’s Curse – Horror Comedy
Lord Oakhurst’s Curse is written in 3 parts. First, we see Lord Oakhurst on his deathbed thinking about this life and his beautiful wife. In the second we meet the wife in question and she doesn’t seem as loving as we expected.
The third part of the story follows Sir Everllard, the doctor, and his stakes in the tale.
Valediction – Loyalty
Sherman Alexie writes a coming-of-age story about two jocks in high school. One is caught shoplifting while the other gets away scot-free.
The events cause both kids to slip away from each other, and their friendship is ruined.
In a story about loyalty to your convictions and loyalty to your friends, what do you choose?
3rd graders will all have their own reading abilities, but most of them can grasp a story even if they aren’t reading it.
If you think some of these stories are too detailed or difficult for your kids, consider reading them instead. They each hold knowledge and insights that children should think about, so allow them to listen to the story.
Because short stories are, well, short, you can read through the content yourself. That way you can decide if the writing style is too complex or the content inappropriate for your group.
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