Traditionally, short stories have gone overlooked.
Short stories are often overlooked in favor of novels. Though longer works are certainly valuable, short stories should be recognized as an instrumental source of social and historical context, as well as literary genius! In truth, short stories provide rich literary value and should be incorporated into every English course. If you teach English, plan to teach English, or simply love literature, read on to discover 6 reasons to begin teaching and/or reading short stories NOW.
6 reasons to begin teaching and/or reading short stories NOW!
- Short stories are incredibly well written. Similar to poetry, authors of short stories have a limited amount of space to fully develop plot, characters, theme, etc. Every word, every sentence, every happening has to be more intentional than comparable elements in a novel. If you are looking for examples of stellar writing, look no further than the short story!
- Short stories are… short. Readers will frequently look at a thick novel and find it daunting. A short story can be read in a single sitting and can be read multiple times, which is a wonderful reading strategy. Multiple readings allow for deeper insight and analysis. Unless you truly love a particular novel, it is unlikely that you will read it again. Not the case with short stories!
- Short stories teach literary devices. Symbolism? Allegory? Theme? Metaphor? Yep. Short stories have them all.
- Short stories allow for comparison. Because short stories take a limited amount of time to read, readers can choose several short stories and compare/contrast them, another fabulous reading strategy!
- Short stories provide historical, social, and literary context. Short stories are just as effective as novels at providing important historical and social context. To really delve into a culture, turn to their stories. Pairing short stories with a history unit is a superb idea. Oftentimes, this strategy allows students to recall historical context better. For instance, when learning about the roaring 20s, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories can help solidify the time period in a reader’s mind and make it come alive!
- Short stories provide an unintimidating way to explore different genres. As students become more well-read, it is important that they are exposed to different genres. Students are more likely to have a positive attitude when reading 15 pages of sci-fi (fill in any genre) rather than immersing themselves into a 350 page sci-fi novel. They may even find that they love a genre they’ve never given thought to before!
FREE DOWNLOADABLE: A Hashtag list of short stories to read before graduation
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Jess Woods graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor's degree in English Education and from Arizona State University with a Master's degree in English. She began her career teaching in a public high school; however, since 2013, she has been teaching middle school and high school English courses online. Jess is a life-long reader and writer. She comes alive in the company of words and music, and she has a passion for literature that reaches through every part of her being. She believes wholeheartedly that each person has a relevant voice and perspective, and she eagerly teaches her students to embrace their individual voices by exploring their own thoughts and learning to confidently articulate them. It is her desire to encourage growth in all students (regardless of their love for English courses…or lack thereof). She considers it a tremendous success if she can awaken a love of literature and/or composition in her students. Jess currently resides in Alabama with her pastor-husband, Josh and their three kids. They also have a lot of animals and plants. While reading and writing are clearly on the top of her hobby list, Jess also enjoys all things musical, cooking competition shows, gardening, hiking, and traveling.