In this post you will find 41 short stories for middle school across a variety of genres: humor, mystery, horror, classic, etc. Along with every story you’ll find a link (READ IT) that will take you to a free copy you can copy or download and print.
It can be a pain in the rear to find free PDFs that are well-formatted and easy to print. So we compiled eight of the best short stories for middle school and put them together in our own PDF called the Best Short Stories for Middle School. You can preview and download the PDF below.
You can also check out our companion piece: 41 Short Stories for High School, filled with even more wonderful stories.
Here are the Best Short Stories for Middle School (at least according to us).
We’ve taught each of these stories to middle school students. Kids of all reading levels (including reluctant readers) found them engaging and suspenseful. They are thought-provoking with plenty of spectacular twists.
If you have your own selection for the best short stories for middle school, please let us know in the comments. And feel free to share this PDF on social media.
To share, you can click the thumbnail, open the preview and select the share icon at the bottom of the screen (next to the zoom icons).
Click to download our Free PDF.
Some days all you have time for is a one page short story. Or maybe a two pager. The stories below are some of the shortest tales you can find for free online, written by a variety of masters: O. Henry, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Martha Salinas, Philip K. Dick and more.
A Strange Story
By O. Henry
A man goes out to pick up some medicine for his daughter and disappears. His eventual reappearance is strange and disturbing.
The Scholarship Jacket
By Marth Salinas
Martha spent years earning that jacket. But some teachers want to give it to a school board member’s daughter.
The Eyes Have It
By Philip K Dick
It was quite by accident I discovered this incredible invasion of Earth by lifeforms from another planet…
By Oscar Wilde
Everyone knows the story of Narcissus who wasted away staring at his reflection. But what about the pool’s point of view?
The Dinner Party
By Mona Gardner
A lovely and lively dinner party. A daring wager put to all in attendance. A cunning guest who knows more than she’s letting on.
The Terrible Old Man
By HP Lovecraft
Not all old men are as weak and helpless as they seem. This is a truth three misguided thieves discover all too late.
A Tent in Agony
By Stephen Crane
An encounter with the local wildlife goes horribly wrong when an old black bear walks into a tent looking for some food.
One of These Days
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A dentist must remove the tooth of the local Mayor, who happens to be a sworn enemy. He takes the job.
Few writers have the knack for crafting funny short stories for middle school. Laughter on the page is a tough trick, but some authors pull it off time and again.
The Story of the Bad Little Boy
By Mark Twain
Once there was a bad little boy named Jim — though, if you notice, you’ll find that bad little boys are nearly always called James…
By Gary Soto
A seventh grade boy finds himself trying to impress his crush and relying on the suspect advice of his friends.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery short story for middle school? Whether a story of classic detection like Sherlock Holmes or a wonderful twist on murder most foul, mystery stories are a delight.
Lamb to the Slaughter
By Roald Dahl
In a fit of rage, a wife murders her husband. Now what is she to do? How will she get rid of the evidence?
Adventure of the Speckled Band
By Arthur Conan Doyle
A classic mystery of a locked room murder, Doyle considered this to be the finest short story he ever wrote.
Three Tools of Death
By GK Chesterton
A troubled girl’s father is found dead, and Father Brown must unravel his mysterious murder by one of three deadly weapons.
By Will F Jenkins
Madge just wanted to pick up her husband, but an unexpected passenger leads to dark and terrible truth about the human soul.
We love scary short stories for middle school. Better yet though: middle school kids love scary stories themselves. Of all the tales we’ve used in the classroom, few have as much impact as the dark and spooky journeys found here.
The Cask of Amontillado
By Edgar Allan Poe
The all-time classic tale of the perfect revenge. Fortunato thinks he’s getting a rare taste of wine, but Montresor has other plans.
By William Sleator
Twelve year old Martin is afraid of the elevator in his new apartment building. He tries to avoid it. He should have tried harder.
The Monkey’s Paw
By WW Jacobs
The greatest tale ever told about being careful what you wish for, with one of the finest endings ever penned.
By Lucille Fletcher
A radio play written by a master of the form about a man driving the lonely American highways, and the hitchhiker who appears time & again.
By Bram Stoker
Removed by Stoker from the novel, this tale serves as an excellent introduction to the greatest of all vampires: Count Dracula.
Wish You Were Here
By Frank Jones
Dorothy thought the lawn gnome was cute. But when it disappeared, she certainly didn’t expect to start receiving letters from it.
Classic short stories for middle school stand the test of time. They continue to resonate with readers of every new generation. The classic short stories here are among some of the best ever written.
By Shirley Jackson
Perhaps the greatest twist ending in 20th Century fiction. A wicked tale of a small town lottery and the danger of tradition.
By Guy de Maupassant
One of the finest short stories by one of the great practitioners of the form, with a gut kick of a twist ending.
The Lady or the Tiger?
By Frank Stockton
Behind one door a beautiful lady. Behind the other a voracious and hungry tiger. Make your choice very carefully.
After 20 Years
By O. Henry
Two men agreed to meet again in one spot 20 years later. But when two strangers collide in that spot in the night, they discover the irony of fate.
Two sworn enemies who have hated each other for decades are trapped together deep in the woods. Can they make peace?
Adventure short stories for middle school take readers far and away. Deep into the jungle. Onto deserted (or not so deserted) islands. Into lonely lighthouses. All these adventure stories are exciting, engaging and full of surprises.
The Boar Hunt
By Jose Vasconcelos
A hunting party deep in the jungle believes they’ve come across the ultimate score. But the tables quickly turn.
The Treasure in the Forest
By HG Wells
Two ruthless treasure hunters have murdered a man for his treasure map. But what they find in the forest i smore than they imagined.
The Most Dangerous Game
By Richard Connell
A madman hunts human beings for sport on his private island. But with his latest “guest” he may have finally met his match.
Three Skeleton Key
By George Toudouze
My most terrifying experience? Well, one does have a few in thirty-five years of service in the Lights, although it’s mostly monotonous…
Science fiction short stories for middle school push the boundaries of the imagination. They ask what if in ways that few other types of stories can. These science fiction short stories stand out as some of the most powerful of the form.
All Summer in a Day
By Ray Bradbury
On Venus, a group of kids waits to see the sun, which only appears out of the rain once every seven years, and only for an hour.
The 9 Billion Names of God
By Arthur C Clarke
A group of monks atop a mountain need a computer to help them write down all nine billion names of God.
By Ray Bradbury
The classic tale of the dangers of technology replacing reality and a critique of lackadaisical parenting.
Hey You Down There!
By Harold Rolseth
A wickedly humorous story about a couple digging a well who discover an unknown race deep underground.
Mars is Heaven
By Ray Bradbury
They land on Mars only to discover themselves in a town that looks exactly like one they left on Earth, and it’s filled with people they know.
Time Enough at Last
By Lynn Venable
All he wanted was a little time to read. Then the bombs fell, and he finally had all the time he could ever want.
Literary short stories for middle school explore life and all of its mysteries. The stories below capture life at a variety of extremes and reveal powerful insights into life, death, greed, fear and more.
The Friday That Changed Everything
By Anne Hart
A school teacher considers changing the rules, pitting the boys against the girls in a tale of power and jealousy.
By McKnight Malmar
A woman arrives home alone on the eve of a great storm. Waiting for her husband, she believes she’s found a body in the cellar.
The Rocking Horse Winner
By DH Lawrence
A little boy believes that he can correctly guess the derby winners each time by riding his rocking horse.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
By Ambrose Bierce
A man is to be hung at Owl Creek Bridge. But the rope snaps and he escapes. Or does he? One of the great twist endings of all time.
Lather & Nothing Else
By Hernando Tellez
A soldier comes in for a shave, but the barber is a revolutionary. Should the barber do his job, or cut the enemy’s throat?
By John Collier
A young man comes into a shop to buy a love potion. But the shop owner has many potions to sell, not all for the same price.