Short stories are essential to any English student's education, and they are easily taught and studied. Teachers can find a variety of short stories written by famous writers to use in class. Novels can even be excerpted and used as short stories to entice 10th graders to read the entire novel.
"The Ledge" by Stephen King
"The Ledge" offers literary elements such as suspense, foreshadowing, symbolism and characterization. A "popcorn" reading is ideally used in conjunction with "The Ledge." Popcorn reading is a technique used in classrooms where students have the responsibility of reading participation coupled with the choice of when to do so. Without naming names, a student will begin reading (a paragraph or page) then another student will raise his hand to begin where the previous student left off until every student in class has had a turn.
"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Urula LeGuin
This short story teaches literary elements such as symbolism, archetype/allegory (scapegoat, utopia) as well as imagery. This story is ideally read to the class by the teacher because it is less than 32 pages and can be read over a period of several days as students discuss the themes of the book.
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou
Have students listen to an audio version of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. Because this is an autobiography, you may want to find the version read by the author. Literary elements included in this short story are memoir, theme (coming of age), dialect and setting.
"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" by Ernest Hemingway
This short story was first published in "Cosmopolitan" magazine in 1936. Set in Africa, the story has literary elements of types of conflict, historical context and gender and class relations. Have students independently read this story either for homework or in class.
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