37 The Best Dream Chaser Short Quotes – If there’s one thing my students and I share, it’s our love of short stories. Middle school kids may not choose to read short stories on their own time, but they get really excited when the story I choose to teach a concept is short. I think short stories pack a stronger emotional punch. They cause a real reaction, especially if the author manages to surprise them. In fact, short stories are what I use most often in my middle school lessons to teach literary devices, act as mentor texts for our writing, and get students excited about reading. The following is a collection of 50 of my favorite short stories for high school students.
1. “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl “’I’ll prepare dinner,’ he whispered. When he walked across the room, he couldn’t feel his feet touching the floor. He couldn’t feel anything except a little pain. He does everything without thinking. He went down to the refrigerator and grabbed the first thing he found. He picked it up, and looked at it. It was wrapped in paper, so he removed the paper and looked at it again—a leg of lamb.
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Why I like it: Dramatic irony. The discussion is as follows: Who is the innocent lamb in this story?
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2. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell “The world consists of two classes—the hunters and the hunted.”
Why I like it: This is one of those short stories for middle school that engages all my students. I like to ask them what they think is the most dangerous game in the world. I love watching them figure out what will happen as we read the story.
3. “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl “’I kept all my little pets myself when they died. Would you like some more tea?’”
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Why I like it: This story is good for suspense, irony, and characterization. It always scares students.
4. “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury “I think the sun is a flower / That blooms in just an hour.”
Why I love it: This story is heartbreaking and truth-telling. Bradbury takes us to Venus and uses the setting to drive the conflict and focus on the characters’ behavior.
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Why I like it: This is a dystopian story about the power of technology in our lives. It’s easy to connect with student life.
Why I liked it: The brutality of this story sneaks up on you. For a while, you believe the town is mediocre until you learn the dark consequences of blindly following tradition.
7. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe “It is difficult to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.”
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Why I love it: My students love murder mysteries. This one becomes more compelling as the narrator tries to convince the reader of his sanity.
8. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry “Life consists of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sobs predominating.”
Why I like it: This is one of the best middle school stories for teaching irony during the holiday season.
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9. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs “Never mind, darling… maybe you’ll win the next game.”
Why I like it: One of the classic short stories for middle school about what would go wrong if three wishes were granted. Students were also excited to learn that there is a Simpsons episode based on this short story.
10. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber “Lately, I’ve been wondering if there’s any time left for daydreaming in this 21st century world of constant communication.”
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Why I like it: This story moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary. It highlights the ordinary lives of adults while the main character escapes into fantastical situations, inspired by his surroundings. Bonus: The film version was released in 2013.
11. “The People Who Left Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin “This is the artist’s betrayal: a refusal to acknowledge the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”
12. “Araby” by James Joyce “Her name came to my lips in moments of strange prayer and praise which I myself did not understand. My eyes often fill with tears (I don’t know why) and sometimes the flood from my heart seems to rush into my chest. I don’t think much about the future. I don’t know whether I will ever talk to him or not, or if I do, how I can tell him about my confused admiration.”
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13. “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury “It fell to the floor, a thing of great beauty, a small thing that could upset the balance and topple a row of small dominoes and then big dominoes and then giant dominoes, all year across Time. Eckels’ mind was spinning. It can’t change the situation. Killing a butterfly is not a big deal! Is it possible?”
Why I like it: This is a short story about the butterfly effect. The plot asks the question many have asked before, if we could travel back in time, how would it change the future?
14. “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan “My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America.”
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Why I like it: Use this as an example of an extended metaphor and, again, mother-daughter relationship dynamics.
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17. “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst “We all have something or someone to be proud of.”
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18. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor “‘There isn’t a soul on God’s green earth you can trust,’ she said. ‘And I don’t count anyone in it, not one,’ he repeated, looking at Red Sammy.”
Why I like it: This is a great story to learn about the characters, their flaws, and their transformation at the end of the story.
19. “Ruthless” by William de Mille “When it comes to protecting my property, I make my own laws.”
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20. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin “When the doctors came, they said he had died of heart disease—deadly joy.”
21. “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros “What they don’t understand about birthdays, and what they’ll never tell you, is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six , and five, and four, and three, and two, and one.”
Why I like it: I use this when I teach creative writing. What changes when we are 11 years old? How are we different from when we were 10 years old? Most agree that this is a significant change.
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22. “The Test” by Theodore Thomas “No one wants to drive a car after going through what you just went through.”
23. “There Will Come a Soft Rain” by Ray Bradbury “And one voice…recited poetry…until all the rolls of film burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked.”
24. “The Schoolmistress” by Anton Chekhov “It is beyond comprehension… why God gives beauty, grace, and sad, sweet eyes to weak, unfortunate, useless people—why they are so charming.”
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Why I like it: We get to see simple moments become symbols of bigger events in her life.
26. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce “He had only the power to feel, and feeling was torture.”
27. “The Chaser” by John Collier “‘He’ll want to know everything you do,’” said the old man. ‘All that happens to you all day long. Every word. He wants to know what you’re thinking, why you’re suddenly smiling, why you look sad.’
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Why I love it: For further discussion, what would you do for love? Bonus: Pair with a Twilight Zone episode.
28. “The Janitor in Space” by Amber Sparks “He felt at home in space. He lied and said he came here to be close to God, but he felt further away from Him than ever.”
29. “Standard Loneliness Package” by Charles Yu “A root canal costs one fifty, more or less, depending on who does it to you. The migraines are two hundred.”
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Why I like it: The plot is interesting enough to keep students interested. Imagine a world where you transfer your negative feelings and experiences onto others.
30. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman “I didn’t cry at all, and most of the time.”
Why I love it: I still remember the first time I read this story in middle school and the discussions about women and mental health and symbolism throughout the story.
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31. “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell “Oh, well, women are used to worrying about trivial things.”
32. “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe “’I will not die from a cough.’ ‘Absolutely,’ I answered.”
33. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”
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34. “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty “[Sniper’s eyes]
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