Over the years, I have written a number of short stories. There are two collections, Strange Happenings (five stories) and What Do Fish Have to Do with Anything? (seven stories). Now and again, I have contributed to various thematic anthologies, some seven (I think) in number, including When I Was Your Age.
A few years ago I was able (along with co-editor Carolyn Shute) to produce an anthology of short stories for kids titled Best Shorts. There were many good stories we did not have room to include. To my taste, no one has written better short stories than Kipling’s Mowgli and Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon.
There was a time when the short story was a powerful force in American writing. True, that was also the time when there were many magazines who published them, and presumably millions who read them. Writing short stories was considered the normal progression for a writer who might then be discovered and/or move on to novels. That has changed.
Yet to write a good short story is extremely challenging, and takes great skill. I suspect that young people, particularly in middle and high school, are far more capable of writing good short stories than novels. I can imagine a teacher starting off each day in class with a short story.
These days—in classrooms—there is a great emphasis on the novel. Indeed, there is “Write a novel in a month,” program which I know some schools have promoted. Why not a “Write a short story in a month?” Perhaps that would be a more productive program for young people. Schools could produce their own collections of short stories as an incentive.
Maybe we should construct a list of good short stories—a list long enough so a teacher, librarian, or parent could actually read one each day to kids. A good short story can have a long life.
Any suggestions? Can we pull together a list? Add your recommendations via this Google Form.
If you’d like to view other recommended titles, take a look at the Google Spreadsheet.