8 Amazing Short Stories For High School Students

Short stories are an important part of the school curriculum, whether it’s to teach literature, or when linked to other subjects. Short stories provide students a chance to explore challenging themes and important ideas in an easily-digestible format.

8 Amazing Short Stories For High School Students

From exploring the complexities of human emotion to examining significant social issues, short stories can be a perfect jumping-off point for other subjects if you select the right ones.

But how can you choose the most effective short story for high school students to learn? If you’re wondering about this, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’re going to provide you with a list of 8 amazing short stories for high school students to study, as well as a short guide that will help you select the right one for your students. 

What Makes A Good Short Story For High School Students To Study?

Before we delve into our list of the best short stories for high school students, it’s important to understand what makes a suitable story for students to study.

There are a few key features that can make a short story an excellent choice for high school students, including compelling characters, universal themes, distinct literary devices, cultural relevance, and clarity around writing style.

Compelling Characters

The characters of a story are the vessel from which everything else unfolds.

If the story you choose has compelling, relatable characters, there’s a good chance that students will be engrossed and will find it easier to complete assignments, work, and engage in discussions around it.

Universal Themes

The story you choose should explore some kind of important universal themes. Popular themes include loss, identity, and love. All of these themes can make a story more relatable and intriguing for students. 

Literary Devices

A suitable story should use literary devices such as symbolism, foreshadowing, and dramatic irony to enhance its meaning and create a more nuanced reading experience.

If your students are studying literature, these can all be great things to highlight and will give them more to study. 

Cultural Relevance

Stories that examine cultural issues and perspectives can help students to understand and appreciate different cultures and viewpoints. These can also make the stories fit more easily into other subjects/topics. 

A Clear Writing Style

A story with a clear and concise writing style can make it easier for students to understand and analyze. This is something you should consider when making your selection.

The 8 Best Short Stories For High School Students To Study

1. The Tell-Tale Heart By Edgar Allan Poe

This is a great short story to teach high school students because of its great writing style, thematic depth, and intriguing central character.

The Tell-Tale Heart is a classic short story that tells the story of a man who commits murder and is haunted by a beating heart under his floorboards.

This is an important story with a central message about the power of guilt and the consequences of a person’s actions.

2. The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

The Lottery is a classic short story that high school students have studied for decades. It tells the story of a small town that holds an annual lottery in which one person is chosen to be stoned to death.

The story is a commentary on the dangers of blindly following tradition and the power of groupthink and can be used as a jumping-off point to discuss other important historical events that humans have gone through.

It’s a little dark as a story, so make sure your students are age-appropriate before selecting this one.

3. The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper is a striking tale about a woman who is confined to a small room with yellow wallpaper by her husband.

The reader experiences this character become more isolated, and become obsessed with strange patterns in the wallpaper, eventually deciding that there is someone trapped behind it.

This story is an important allegory that reflects on the subjugation of women and the damaging effects of isolation on a human’s psyche and spirit. 

4. For Esmé With Love And Squalor By J.D Salinger

The Catcher In The Rye is a popular novel that is often taught in high school, but another great choice by J.D Salinger is For Esmé With Love And Squalor.

This is a story that deals with a man waiting to be sent over to the European theater during World War 2, who meets a girl that he is interested in.

The story is a meditation on the human spirit during the darkest times in recent history, and a reflection on human relationships during times of war. 

5. “The Gift Of The Magi” By O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi is a heartwarming story about a young couple who give up their most prized possessions in order to buy each other Christmas gifts.

The story is a powerful exploration of the meaning of true love and the importance of selflessness, and how the human spirit can be connected to others. 

6. Hills Like White Elephants By Ernest Hemmingway 

Ernest Hemmingway is one of the most prolific American writers of all time. If you’re looking for a story that will really push your students to understand metaphor and symbolism, this is a great choice.

It’s a short story that sees a couple debating a serious issue, as the landscape around them shifts and is described in great detail. This is one that will really get your students to look deeply at Hemmingway’s use of language in order to understand what it is about. 

7. Harrison Bergeron By Kurt Vonnegut

Harrison Bergeron is a dystopian tale set in a future where everyone is forced to be equal.

Exploring themes of individuality vs. collective culture, totalitarian government, and the difficulties of a society obsessed with egalitarianism, this story is a commentary on the dangers of conformity and the importance of individuality.

8. The Swimmer By John Cheever

This is a unique story that follows the story of a man who makes it his mission to swim through the pools of his wealthy neighbors. What readers realize as the story progresses, is that this main character is beginning to lose touch with reality.

If you’re looking for a story with complex themes such as age, denial, and obsession with wealth, this is a great choice for you. Materialism is an important theme and this story offers an opportunity to explore this theme in great depth. 

Final Thoughts

Short stories are an effective teaching tool and an important part of any high school curriculum.

Short stories have been used in the education of young adults for a long time, offering an excellent way for students to learn more about important themes, develop their reading comprehension skills, and act as a basis for future essays.

The 8 short stories discussed in this article are all good picks for a high school classroom, and can all be studied in detail.

It’s important to note that there are countless short stories written by terrific writers for you to choose from, so if none of these seem relevant to your class, just know that there are many more for you to pick from.

We hope that this article has told you everything you wanted to know, and that you’re now more confident about which short story you can pick. We wish you the best of luck in teaching! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Short Stories Important For High School Students To Study?

Short stories offer an opportunity for students to learn about the importance of literature, as well as a huge range of important societal issues.

Good short stories will be concise, engaging, and deep in terms of theme and subtext.

What Are The Most Important Literary Devices To Study?

Some of the most important literary devices that are often discussed in classrooms include symbolism, allegory, imagery, foreshadowing, and characterization.

High school is often the time for students to learn about the complexities of great writing, and how it has affected the world throughout history. 

How Do I Make Short Stories More Engaging For My Students? 

Try to connect the stories to your students’ lives or interests, use multimedia or interactive elements to enhance the reading experience, and encourage student participation through discussions or creative assignments.

How Do I Assess My Students’ Understanding?

You can assess your students through set essays, quizzes, group discussions, or writing prompts. You can also get your students to create artistic projects that will allow them to extend the themes and characters of these stories, taking them to new places. 

Helena Waters

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