Teaching Ideas

5 Terrific Short Stories to Teach Characterization

5 short stories to teach characterization

Hey there, awesome ELA teachers! Looking for some fresh short stories to teach characterization?

5 short stories to teach characterization

You’re in the right spot! I’ve handpicked five short stories to teach characterization that are perfect for getting your students hooked.

These stories are a mix of old favorites and new finds, all packed with characters that will jump off the page and get your students talking, thinking, and even seeing a bit of themselves. Whether you’re aiming to shake up your lesson plans or just want to bring some new energy to your classroom, these stories are your ticket. 

If you’re looking to teach other ELA concepts with short stories (like conflict, symbolism, and more), this blog post has a comprehensive round up categorized by concepts. Meanwhile, this blog post features a round-up of even MORE short story ideas, like Latine-authored short stories, contemporary middle school and/or high school short stories, and beyond!

5 Fresh & Awesome Short Stories to Teach Characterization

"The Party" by Pam Muñoz Ryan

✨ Published in 2001
✨ Middle grade
Summary: “The Party” by Pam Muñoz Ryan is about Monica, a middle schooler, who learns about family, heritage, and self-acceptance after feeling embarrassed about her family’s traditional Mexican birthday party while trying to fit in with her American friends.

✨ Published in 1986
✨ Middle grade
Summary: “The Scholarship Jacket” by Marta Salinas is about an 8th-grader who faces challenges and learns about integrity and self-worth when she must stand up for herself to earn a scholarship jacket that is rightfully hers, despite attempts to change the rules based on her financial situation.

✨ Published in 1992
✨ Middle grade
Summary: “Raymond’s Run” by Toni Cade Bambara follows a young girl named Squeaky who discovers the importance of self-identity and compassion through her experiences in preparing for and running in a race, while also caring for her disabled brother, Raymond.

✨ Published in 2021
✨ Middle grade and/or HS
✨ Summary: “First Day Fly” by Jason Reynolds is about a young boy’s nervousness and excitement on the first day of school, emphasizing the importance of self-confidence and the realization that everyone is trying to fit in and make a good impression.

✨ Published in 2020
✨ Middle grade and/or HS
✨ Summary: “Where I’m From” by Misa Sugiura explores a young girl’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance, as she navigates her identity and cultural heritage, reflecting on her family’s history and her place within it.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it! Five fantastic, diverse short stories to teach characterization that are sure to keep your students engaged. 

Need short story resources? Whether you’re looking for an inclusive planning resource, a comprehensive unit for ANY short story, or a more classic short story unit, we’ve got you covered! No matter what your short story preference is, we can only hope that you’re feeling inspired and excited to introduce these gems to your students. 

Happy teaching, and here’s to stories that leave a lasting impact!