25+ Best Short Stories for High School Students to Read Online

Reading is indispensable for nurturing young minds, fostering creativity, and expanding horizons. In high school education, short stories offer a perfect getaway to engage students in the world of literature. 

These bite-sized narratives encapsulate profound themes, thought-provoking ideas, and vivid character explorations, making them ideal for capturing the attention and imagination of young readers.

In this digital age, where online resources abound, high school students have unprecedented access to many short stories at their fingertips. 

Recognizing the importance of promoting literary exploration, we have curated a collection of the 25+ best short stories available for high school students to read online. 

These stories span many genres, from timeless classics to contemporary masterpieces, ensuring students can embark on literary journeys that align with their interests and curiosities. Sit tight and enjoy the ride!

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Best Short Stories for High School Students to Read Online

Here are 25+ best short stories for high school students to read online with their summaries and key themes:

1. “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

Summary: A chilling tale of revenge and betrayal set in the catacombs beneath an Italian city.

Key Themes: Revenge, Betrayal, Guilt.

2. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber

Summary: A daydreamer escapes his mundane life through vivid fantasies.

Key Themes: Imagination, Escapism, Identity.

3. “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury

Summary: A time traveler disrupts the past, leading to unforeseen consequences in the future.

Key Themes: Time Travel, Butterfly Effect, Ethics.

4. “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst

Summary: A story of love, pride, and the tragic fate of a disabled boy.

Key Themes: Pride, Acceptance, Brotherhood.

5. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs

Summary: A mystical artifact grants three wishes with unexpected and disastrous results.

Key Themes: Fate, Greed, Consequences.

6. “The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton

Summary: A princess must make a life-or-death decision for her lover in a court of justice.

Key Themes: Love, Jealousy, Moral Dilemma.

7. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

Summary: A renowned hunter becomes the prey in a deadly game on a remote island.

Key Themes: Survival, Morality, Hunting.

8. “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty

Summary: Set during the Irish Civil War, a sniper must confront the brutal reality of war.

Key Themes: War, Violence, Identity.

9. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

Summary: The story is narrated by an unnamed protagonist who tries to convince the readers of their sanity while describing a murder they committed. The protagonist is tormented by the sound of the victim’s beating heart, which leads to their confession.

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Key Themes: Guilt and conscience, obsession, the nature of evil, psychological instability.

10. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

Summary: The story takes place in a small village where an annual lottery is held. The lottery results in the stoning death of a randomly chosen villager, including the winner’s family. The chilling ending reveals the dark tradition and the villagers’ blind adherence.

Key Themes: Tradition and ritual, conformity, violence in society, and the dangers of mob mentality.

11. “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

Summary: The story follows Madame Mathilde Loisel, a dissatisfied woman who borrows a beautiful necklace for a high-profile event. However, she loses the necklace and spends years working to replace it, only to discover that the original necklace is fake.

Key Themes: Appearance versus reality, materialism, and discontent, the consequences of pride and dishonesty.

12. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

Summary: The story follows a big-game hunter named Rainsford, who becomes the prey of a deranged Russian aristocrat, General Zaroff, on a remote island. Rainsford must outwit Zaroff to survive.

Key Themes: Morality and ethics, the nature of humanity, survival instinct, the thrill of the hunt.

13. “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut

Summary: Set in a dystopian society, equality is extremely enforced. The government uses handicaps to suppress exceptional abilities, making everyone average. The story follows Harrison Bergeron, a young man with extraordinary abilities, as he rebels against the oppressive system.

Key Themes: Equality, individuality, the dangers of extreme egalitarianism, and freedom of expression.

14. “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury

Summary: The story takes place in a technologically advanced house with a nursery capable of manifesting any setting. The children, Peter and Wendy, become obsessed with the African veldt, leading to a sinister and deadly outcome.

Key Themes: Technology and its impact on human relationships, the dangers of virtual reality, parental neglect, and the power of imagination.

15. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Summary: The story is a first-person account of a woman suffering from postpartum depression. Confined to a room with yellow wallpaper, she becomes increasingly obsessed and mentally deteriorates over time.

Key Themes: Gender roles, mental health, societal oppression, and the power of self-expression.

16. “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty

Summary: Set during the Irish Civil War, the story follows a Republican sniper on a rooftop. Engaged in a life-and-death battle, the sniper experiences a twist ending that reveals the brutal nature of war.

Key Themes: War and its consequences, the dehumanizing effects of conflict, identity, and brotherhood, and moral ambiguity.

17. “The School” by Donald Barthelme

Summary: The story presents a fragmented narrative of a school where a chaotic and absurd approach to education replaces the traditional curriculum and structure.

Key Themes: Critique of educational systems, conformity, the nature of learning, and the role of authority.

18. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

Summary: The story revolves around a mother and her two daughters, Dee and Maggie. Dee returns home after pursuing an education, and conflict arises over the family’s heirloom quilts. The story explores themes of cultural heritage, objects’ meaning, and family relationships’ dynamics.

Key Themes: Heritage and cultural identity, the value of objects, and the significance of family bonds.

19. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

Summary: The story follows Mrs. Mallard, who receives news of her husband’s death. Initially overcome with grief, she experiences a sense of liberation and freedom, only to face a tragic twist.

Key Themes: Freedom and confinement, marriage and identity, and the limitations imposed by society.

20. “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin

Summary: The story presents a romantic city, Omelas, where everyone enjoys perfect happiness and prosperity. However, it is revealed that the city’s happiness depends on a single child’s suffering. The story explores moral dilemmas and the consequences of individual choices.

Key Themes: Ethics and morality, sacrifice, the nature of happiness, and the responsibility of individuals to society.

21. “The Man to Send Rain Clouds” by Leslie Marmon Silko

Summary: The story follows an indigenous family preparing the body of their deceased grandfather for burial. They incorporate their traditional customs into the Catholic funeral rites, challenging the cultural assimilation forced upon them.

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Key Themes: Cultural identity, the clash of cultures, the power of traditions, and the resilience of indigenous communities.

22. “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri

Summary: The story is a collection of interconnected narratives that explores the characters’ lives navigating the complexities of identity, cultural displacement, and interpersonal relationships. It delves into communication, love, and the search for connection.

Key Themes: Cultural displacement, communication, and miscommunication, the complexities of love and relationships, and the longing for connection.

23. “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster

Summary: Set in a dystopian future, humans live in isolated underground cells, relying entirely on a machine that meets their every need. When the machine begins to malfunction, the protagonist challenges the reliance on technology and explores themes of isolation, dehumanization, and the consequences of a technologically dependent society.

Key Themes: Technology and its impact on human connections, isolation, and the dangers of excessive reliance on technology.

24. “The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov

Summary: The story follows the evolution of artificial intelligence over several centuries as it attempts to answer the ultimate question about the universe’s fate. It explores entropy themes, human knowledge limitations, and the relationship between humanity and technology.

Key Themes: Time and entropy, the quest for knowledge, the boundaries of human understanding, and the nature of existence.

25. “The Ones Who Stay and Fight” by N.K. Jemisin

Summary: This short story is set in a utopian society called “the Stillness,” where certain individuals have the power to control the earth and prevent catastrophic events. It explores power, oppression, resistance, and the consequences of inaction.

Key Themes: Power dynamics, resistance, activism, and ethics of inaction.

26. “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang

Summary: The story is set in a world of mechanical beings that rely on ” air ” to function. It explores themes of consciousness, determinism, the nature of existence, and the ethical implications of scientific discovery.

Key themes: Consciousness and self-awareness, determinism and free will, the consequences of scientific discovery, and the nature of existence.

27. “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler

Summary: Set on a distant planet, “Bloodchild” depicts a symbiotic relationship between humans and an alien species. The story explores power dynamics, sacrifice, gender roles, and the complexities of interdependence.

Key Themes: Power and vulnerability, sacrifice, gender roles, and expectations.

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Criteria for Selecting the Best Short Stories for High School Students

When selecting the best short stories for high school students, several criteria come into play. 

These criteria ensure that the chosen stories are engaging, enjoyable, educational, and relevant to the developmental needs of young readers. 

Here are some key factors considered in the selection process:

Literary Merit

The chosen short stories exhibit exceptional craftsmanship, employing literary techniques such as characterization, plot development, symbolism, and figurative language. 

These stories showcase the power of storytelling and serve as exemplary models of the written word.

Accessibility

The selected stories are accessible and understandable to high school students, taking into account their reading levels and cognitive abilities. 

The language should be appropriate for the target age group, allowing students to fully engage with the narrative without feeling overwhelmed.

Engaging Narratives

The stories feature compelling plots that captivate the attention of young readers. They should have a strong beginning, middle, and end, with well-defined conflicts and resolutions. 

The narratives should be thought-provoking, leaving room for interpretation and discussion.

Diverse Themes

A wide range of themes is considered to cater to high school students’ varied interests and backgrounds. 

The selected stories may explore coming-of-age, identity, friendship, social issues, historical events, cultural diversity, ethical dilemmas, and personal growth.

Relevance and Relatability

The chosen stories should resonate with the experiences and concerns of high school students. 

They should reflect young individuals’ challenges and aspirations, allowing readers to connect with the characters and their journeys on a personal level.

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Where to Access These Short Stories for High School Students Online

There are several online platforms where you can access the 25+ best short stories for high school students. Here are some recommendations:

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Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org)

Project Gutenberg offers a vast collection of free e-books, including classic short stories in the public domain. You can search for specific titles or authors and download them in various formats compatible with different devices.

American Literature (www.americanliterature.com)

This website provides a curated selection of American short stories from renowned authors. The stories are available to read online for free and cover various themes and styles.

Short Story Project (www.shortstoryproject.com)

The Short Story Project features a diverse range of contemporary short stories from emerging and established writers. You can access a selection of stories for free, and they offer a subscription option for unlimited access to their full library.

Project MUSE (muse.jhu.edu)

Project MUSE is a digital platform that offers scholarly books and journals. It may have access to academic journals that include short stories or critical analyses of short stories, providing additional resources for in-depth study.

Online literary magazines

Explore online literary magazines like One Story (www.one-story.com), Granta (granta.com), or The Paris Review (www.theparisreview.org), which regularly publish short stories by both established and emerging writers.

Online book retailers and e-book platforms

Platforms like Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and Google Books offer a wide selection of e-books, including collections of short stories. Some titles may be available for purchase or for free.

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Importance of Short Stories for High School Education

Short stories are crucial in high school education, offering numerous benefits to students’ academic, cognitive, and emotional development.

Here are some key reasons why short stories hold immense importance in high school education:

Encouraging Reading Habits

Short stories provide a manageable and accessible format for students to engage with literature. Their brevity and concise storytelling appeal to reluctant readers, helping cultivate a love for reading. 

By introducing students to captivating narratives in bite-sized chunks, short stories can spark their interest and motivate them to explore more extensive works.

Developing Reading Comprehension Skills

Short stories enhance students’ reading comprehension abilities by requiring them to analyze and interpret condensed narratives. 

These stories often employ literary techniques, such as foreshadowing, symbolism, and character development, allowing students to sharpen their analytical thinking and deep reading skills.

Expanding Vocabulary and Language Skills

Short stories expose students to diverse vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and literary devices. By encountering new words and linguistic styles within a concise context, students can expand their vocabulary and develop a greater appreciation for language. 

Short stories also help improve grammar, syntax, and overall writing skills, as students can observe how skilled authors construct sentences and convey meaning effectively.

Cultivating Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Short stories often present thought-provoking themes, complex characters, and moral dilemmas. Engaging with these narratives encourages high school students to think critically, analyze different perspectives, and make connections between the story and real-life situations. 

Students learn to question, evaluate evidence, and form opinions, fostering independent and critical thinking abilities.

Promoting Cultural Awareness and Empathy

Short stories provide glimpses into different cultures, historical periods, and social contexts. Students develop empathy, cultural understanding, and an appreciation for diversity by reading stories from diverse backgrounds. 

Through the experiences of characters in the stories, students can gain insights into the lives of others, fostering tolerance and respect for various perspectives and experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can these short stories be used in the classroom?

Absolutely! These short stories are ideal for classroom use. They can be incorporated into English literature classes as part of the curriculum, assigned as independent reading assignments, or used for discussion and analysis. 

Are these short stories suitable for all high school grade levels?

The collection includes short stories suitable for various high school grade levels. The stories were selected with the understanding of the cognitive abilities and reading levels of high school students. 

Are these short stories available for free online?

The availability of short stories online may vary. Some stories may be freely accessible on reputable websites or digital libraries, while others may require a subscription or purchase. 

Can these short stories be read on different devices, such as smartphones or tablets?

Yes, most short stories can be read on various devices, including smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and computers. They are available in digital formats such as e-books or web-based platforms, allowing students to access and read them conveniently on their preferred devices.

How can reading these short stories benefit high school students beyond the classroom?

Reading these short stories can benefit high school students in several ways beyond the classroom. They enhance critical thinking skills, foster a love for reading, improve vocabulary and language skills, promote cultural awareness, and cultivate empathy. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, compiling the 25+ best short stories for high school students to read online is a valuable resource to ignite their imagination, foster literary appreciation, and enhance their educational journey. 

Each carefully selected story encapsulates the essence of exceptional storytelling, captivating young readers with engaging narratives, diverse themes, and thought-provoking characters.

Providing high school students access to these remarkable short stories empowers them to explore different genres, expand their literary horizons, and develop critical thinking skills. 

The online availability of these stories ensures convenient access, allowing students to delve into the world of literature at their own pace and convenience.

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