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Short Stories with Questions

This page features 20 of my favorite short stories with questions. These reading activities are perfect for classroom use. Written by some of the greatest authors in history, these stories are short enough to cover in a single class period, and rich enough to warrant study. I tried to select stories that students would find highly interesting. I chose stories with ironic endings, interesting twists, and clever plot movements. This collection will nurture your students’ love of reading and storytelling. I also prepared ten multiple-choice and long response questions for each text. These questions cover a range of reading skills from comprehension and inferring to interpreting themes and identifying figurative language techniques.

These reading activities are available in both the old-school paper format (.RTF and .PDF) and the updated Ereading Worksheet format. With the print-out versions, I optimized to reduce paper use. Most of these fit onto 4 sides. With the new Ereading Worksheets (online versions), I was not limited by paper sides, and was able to ask follow-up short response questions to each multiple-choice. I recommend that you use these if you have the tech at your disposal. They can be completed on any Internet connected device. Students receive instant feedback, and they can print, save, or email score sheets. They can also share their results on Facebook. These activities are easy to integrate with Google Classroom. Definitions of challenging vocabulary words can be found with one click. And perhaps most importantly, these activities are more accessible to students with disabilities. Without further introduction, I present 20 of my favorite short stories with questions, available as worksheets and online activities.


List of Stories

“That Spot” – By Jack London | Reading Level 4-8
“The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger” – By L. Frank Baum | Reading Level 4-8
“The Fir Tree” – By Hans Christian Andersen | Reading Level 4-8
“The Tell-Tale Heart” – By Edgar Allan Poe Andersen | Reading Level 5-9
“The Gift of the Magi” – By O. Henry | Reading Level 5-9
“The Cat That Walked by Himself” – By Rudyard Kipling | Reading Level 5-9
“The Story of Keesh” – By Jack London | Reading Level 5-9
“The Nightingale and the Rose” – By Oscar Wilde | Reading Level 5-9
“The Lottery Ticket” – By Anton Chekhov | Reading Level 5-9
“The Ransom of Red Chief” – By O. Henry | Reading Level 5-9
“Gilray’s Flower-Pot” – By J.M. Barrie | Reading Level 6-10
“2 B R 0 2 B” – By Kurt Vonnegut | Reading Level 6-10
“A Mystery of Heroism” – By Stephen Crane | Reading Level 6-10
“The Hydrophobic Skunk” – By Irvin S. Cobb | Reading Level 6-10
“Mr. Brisher’s Treasure” – By H. G. Wells | Reading Level 6-10
“A Respectable Woman” – By Kate Chopin | Reading Level 7-11
“A Piece of Steak” – By Jack London | Reading Level 7-11
“The Son” – By Hermann Hesse | Reading Level 7-11
“Thrown Away” – By Rudyard Kipling | Reading Level 7-11
“Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale” – By Mark Twain | Reading Level 8-12

“That Spot” | By Jack London – This is the humorous story of a couple guys chasing after fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush. They acquire a mischievous dog named Spot and just cannot get rid of him. This one will have your students in stitches. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
“That Spot” | RTF
“That Spot” | PDF
“That Spot” | Preview
“That Spot” | Answers
“That Spot” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger” | By L. Frank Baum – From the man who imagined the Land of Oz comes a short story about peer pressure and testing one’s morals. Students will like reading about these memorable characters and they should find the ironic outcome to be humorous. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
“The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger” | RTF
“The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger” | PDF
“The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger” | Preview
“The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger” | Answers
“The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Fir Tree” | By Hans Christian Andersen – This may be one of Andersen’s lesser known works, but it packs the same moral punch of his more popular tales. This is the story of a personified tree that fails to appreciate his life until it is too late. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8
“The Fir Tree” | RTF
“The Fir Tree” | PDF
“The Fir Tree” | Preview
“The Fir Tree” | Answers
“The Fir Tree” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Tell-Tale Heart” | By Edgar Allan Poe – This is one of Poe’s more accessible works. When I teach this text, I tend to play up the insanity of the narrator. It makes for a pretty good hook. This is also a good text to study when discussing the reliability of the narrator. Warning: This text contains a murder. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
“The Tell-Tale Heart” | RTF
“The Tell-Tale Heart” | PDF
“The Tell-Tale Heart” | Preview
“The Tell-Tale Heart” | Answers
“The Tell-Tale Heart” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Gift of the Magi” | By O. Henry – This is probably O. Henry’s best known work. It is the classic Christmas tale of a young couple who sacrifice their most valued treasures for one another. It is a story that sticks with readers. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
“The Gift of the Magi” | RTF
“The Gift of the Magi” | PDF
“The Gift of the Magi” | Preview
“The Gift of the Magi” | Answers
“The Gift of the Magi” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Cat That Walked by Himself” | By Rudyard Kipling – Written in the style of a folktale, this Kipling classic explains the origins of the domestic cat. This fun and cleverly written tale was borrowed from Kipling’s Just So Stories. It is a great tale to study when discussing folkloric traits. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
“The Cat That Walked by Himself” | RTF
“The Cat That Walked by Himself” | PDF
“The Cat That Walked by Himself” | Preview
“The Cat That Walked by Himself” | Answers
“The Cat That Walked by Himself” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Story of Keesh” | By Jack London – This is the story of a young man who overcomes fierce and unforgiving opposition and uses his wits to become the most successful hunter in his tribe’s history. This is an uplifting tale replete with inspirational themes. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
“The Story of Keesh” | RTF
“The Story of Keesh” | PDF
“The Story of Keesh” | Preview
“The Story of Keesh” | Answers
“The Story of Keesh” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Nightingale and the Rose” | By Oscar Wilde – Written in Mr. Wilde’s signature style of prosetry (poetic prose), this is a cautionary tale about the hazards of giving someone your all. This tragic tale is densely packed with figurative language and narrative quirks and will surely prove the worthy subject of an interesting classroom discussion. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
“The Nightingale and the Rose” | RTF
“The Nightingale and the Rose” | PDF
“The Nightingale and the Rose” | Preview
“The Nightingale and the Rose” | Answers
“The Nightingale and the Rose” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Lottery Ticket” | By Anton Chekhov – A wise man once said, “Mo’ money; mo’ problems.” This Chekhov classic brings those harsh words to life when a married couple have a close encounter with a winning lottery ticket. This story helps to remind readers about what’s really important in life. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
“The Lottery Ticket” | RTF
“The Lottery Ticket” | PDF
“The Lottery Ticket” | Preview
“The Lottery Ticket” | Answers
“The Lottery Ticket” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Ransom of Red Chief” | By O. Henry – This is the classic O. Henry tale of a pair of kidnappers who find themselves at the mercy of their hostage. It’s hard to read this one without laughing out loud at least a few times. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
“The Ransom of Red Chief” | RTF
“The Ransom of Red Chief” | PDF
“The Ransom of Red Chief” | Preview
“The Ransom of Red Chief” | Answers
“The Ransom of Red Chief” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“Gilray’s Flower-Pot” | By J.M. Barrie – Sometimes the narrator proves to be unreliable. This story by Barrie (better known for creating Peter Pan) illustrates that point in a hilarious way. You have to read it for yourself to understand my meaning. Trust me. You’ll get some giggles out of this one. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
“Gilray’s Flower-Pot” | RTF
“Gilray’s Flower-Pot” | PDF
“Gilray’s Flower-Pot” | Preview
“Gilray’s Flower-Pot” | Answers
“Gilray’s Flower-Pot” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“2 B R 0 2 B” | By Kurt Vonnegut – This short science fiction story (pronounced “To be or not to be”) gives readers a glimpse into a world where people do not age. Whether this world is utopian or dystopian may lead to a worthwhile discussion about what makes life worth living. Warning: This text contains murder. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
“2 B R 0 2 B” | RTF
“2 B R 0 2 B” | PDF
“2 B R 0 2 B” | Preview
“2 B R 0 2 B” | Answers
“2 B R 0 2 B” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“A Mystery of Heroism” | By Stephen Crane – This is a thoughtful yet simply written piece set during a battle in the American Civil War. Crane, while capturing the terror and foolishness of war, dispels a heroic myth. Warning: This text contains graphic descriptions of a violent battle. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
“A Mystery of Heroism” | RTF
“A Mystery of Heroism” | PDF
“A Mystery of Heroism” | Preview
“A Mystery of Heroism” | Answers
“A Mystery of Heroism” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Hydrophobic Skunk” | By Irvin S. Cobb – Anyone who’s ever gone on a snipe hunt or been sent to pursue the ever elusive jackalope will appreciate this story. Students will find delight in the humorous tone and plot movement of this text, so much so that they may not even get hung up on the bits of dialect. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
“The Hydrophobic Skunk” | RTF
“The Hydrophobic Skunk” | PDF
“The Hydrophobic Skunk” | Preview
“The Hydrophobic Skunk” | Answers
“The Hydrophobic Skunk” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“Mr. Brisher’s Treasure” | By H. G. Wells – What would you do if you found buried treasure but you weren’t allowed to take it? This story explores this common conundrum. Students will love the tense moments and ironic twist at the end if they can get past the storyteller’s thick dialect. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
“Mr. Brisher’s Treasure” | RTF
“Mr. Brisher’s Treasure” | PDF
“Mr. Brisher’s Treasure” | Preview
“Mr. Brisher’s Treasure” | Answers
“Mr. Brisher’s Treasure” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“A Respectable Woman” | By Kate Chopin – A houseguest causes tension and excitement in a married woman’s home. As with some of Chopin’s other texts, this story deals with issues of infidelity, or at least the implications of such; however, if you are working with a mature group of students, this story is worth studying. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 7-11
“A Respectable Woman” | RTF
“A Respectable Woman” | PDF
“A Respectable Woman” | Preview
“A Respectable Woman” | Answers
“A Respectable Woman” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“A Piece of Steak” | By Jack London – This story is a longer than the others (it has a total of 8 printed pages), but I was so moved by it that I had to include it amongst these other great stories. This is the tale of a boxer who has come to the twilight of his career. The narrator follows him from his home to the ring, and readers learn about the passage from youth to wisdom. The resolution is unforgettable. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 7-11
“A Piece of Steak” | RTF
“A Piece of Steak” | PDF
“A Piece of Steak” | Preview
“A Piece of Steak” | Answers
“A Piece of Steak” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“The Son” | By Hermann Hesse – This short story (taken from Hesse’s masterpiece Siddhartha) teaches readers about parenting and the limitations of love. The great spiritual questions in this text may fuel a heated discussion in your classroom. I highly recommend the whole book if you are looking for a classroom novel or just some profound personal reading material. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 7-11
“The Son” | RTF
“The Son” | PDF
“The Son” | Preview
“The Son” | Answers
“The Son” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“Thrown Away” | By Rudyard Kipling – It’s important to not dwell on your failures too much. This story illustrates that point in a dark and controversial way. Warning: This text contains a suicide. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 7-11
“Thrown Away” | RTF
“Thrown Away” | PDF
“Thrown Away” | Preview
“Thrown Away” | Answers
“Thrown Away” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

“Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale” | By Mark Twain – It’s hard to win the game when you play by the rules. This short story displays Twain’s bitting satire in full bloom. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 8-12
“Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale” | RTF
“Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale” | PDF
“Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale” | Preview
“Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale” | Answers
“Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale” | Ereading Worksheet – Online Reading Activity

I hope that these stories and resources help you accomplish your goals. Please let me know if you find any errors or have any feedback. Leave a comment below or contact me directly at mortonteaches@gmail.com. Thank you for visiting my website.

 

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