~posted by Ruth
There’s something satisfying about reading a whole story, start to finish, in a short burst of reading time. Short story collections are popular with all ages: young moms and dads who need to snatch the few minutes they have while their little ones nap; busy teens who savor tasting the voices and styles of different authors in their favorite genres; and even beginning readers who delight in the easy-to-read antics of friends like Little Bear or Frog & Toad.
Thanks to loyal reader hazelrigg1, we turned our attention to short story collections for readers in the middle: the tween set. She requested suggestions for this age group, collections with at least five stories. So we’ve been researching, reading, and checking out our fellow parents’ and teachers’ recommendations. The following books can start your young readers off in the world of short stories. Stay tuned for more in the future!
Shelf Life: Stories By the Book edited by Gary Paulsen
This collection, perfect for readers in 4th grade and older, features 10 original stories by top-notch children and juvenile authors. The theme is a perfect one for all book-lovers: how books changed the lives of the characters in each short story. It’s also a wonderful collection to introduce young readers to a variety of genres, including science fiction, humor, adventure, and mystery. Great stories by some of my favorite authors–like Margaret Peterson Haddix and Joan Bauer. I suggest turning to “In Your Hat” first. It’s about a boy who didn’t do his book report–yet.
Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Ray Halfmoon, a Seminole-Cherokee boy, lives with his grandfather in Chicago, and this collection of 6 stories centers on their life together. These stories are slices of urban life that feature humor, compassion, and family love. Haircut woes, fishing trips, winning third place in an art contest, and pet troubles in winter are all tales that will resonate with younger tweens from age 8 and up. I especially love the special bond between grandfather and grandson.
A Tweens Book of Shorts by V.C. Sansone
A good collection for the pre-teen audience it is written for. The well-written stories in this collection focus on characters changing and growing, coming to understand the world they live in. The stories are adventurous–and respectful of tweens’ abilities to cope with true-life situations.
Scary Story Reader (American Storytelling) by Richard and Judy Young
41 scary short stories aimed at young tweens. Some old standards–including many urban legends–that will be new to this generation. Detailed illustrations add to the book’s attraction. The stories are told in a very creepy way, but not too scary for the age group for which they’re written. Highly recommended: good for Halloween, sleepovers, camping trips, and long car rides!
In My Grandmother’s House: Award-Winning Authors Tell Stories About Their Grandmothers by Bonnie Christensen
These 12 stories are both lyrical and moving. Each is told by a grand-daughter; all writers are from a range of different cultures. Cynthia Leitich Smith (yes, the author of Indian Shoes, recommended above) explores an old painting that helps her see her grandmother in a new light; Alma Flor Ada shares a story about an inspirational grandmother who was an intrepid activist; Minfong Ho writes of her connection to her grandmother’s life in faraway Singapore, even as she comes of age in upstate New York. For tweens on the older side, probably grade 6 and above.
Pre-teens and teens already love Scieszka for his zany sense of humor and ability to draw in even the most reluctant of readers. This collection of 10 very funny stories is a terrific addition to any classroom library grades 4 through 8. Contributions from some of the best young adult authors make this collection one to recommend to parents, friends, teachers, and of course, kids. My favorite? David Woo’s hysterical tale about an evil turkey and a disappointed dad. Each story features a male protagonist for boys to identify with. (But girls love this collection, too!)
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Pinkney and Stephen Alcorn
Portraits of 10 important women who were key player in the causes of Civil Rights, Abolition, and Women’s Rights–painted in bright and vivid images and words in the dialect of “Spoken Soul” create a perfect inspiration for exploring the lives of these brave and spirited personalities. As readers, we are introduced to these women as children and learn about what influenced their lives as activists. The narration includes excerpts from speeches, quotes, and references to key events, all woven into very engaging biographical sketches. But the full-page paintings of each woman are more than a complement to the words–they are filled with symbols and metaphors that beg further exploration.