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Author Topic: Halp!
Gnomeinclaychair
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Hiya folks!

I'm an English teacher and writer and I'm trying to put together an anthology of short stories for my students, who are, almost without exception, urban, at-risk, reluctant readers at best. I've read about five or six collections from cover to cover but I'm not finding much. A lot of people who write short stories it seems want to be literary rather than literate.

In short, I'm asking for recommendations. From every genre. Exciting, interesting stories only! Oh, and nothing really long either - thirty pages would be stretching it, probably... depending on the story. I think you get my meaning.

Any ideas?


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franc li
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What about some good old fashioned Poe?
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Gnomeinclaychair
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Yep. I've got the Poe story picked, I think. Which one's your favorite? (Pit and the Pendulum and the Cask of Amontillado we have in the text books already)
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Hookt_Un_Fonix
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Since we are on hatrack I feel obligated to say Enders Game. The original short is what got me reading.
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Zero
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Yeah I'm inclined to agree, students can relate to students no matter the age difference.
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dee_boncci
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"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was a favorite of mine, and I remember liking "The Lottery" too, but they're both pretty old so the language style might pose a barrier. Hawthorne had one I liked, something about Goodman Brown.

Jack London stories are usually pretty straightforward, but I don't have one specifically to recommend.


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HuntGod
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Try your local library for copies of older Analog and Asimov magazines and such. I remember those fondly, as a young teen I was also into pulp magazines and novels, Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Spider. Not sure how easy it would be to find reprints of these but they were great and very accessible.

Good luck and best wishes on the search...


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Rick Norwood
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I'm afraid modern readers don't have the vocabulary for old classics, expecially if they've fallen victim to the educational establishment that favors "whole word" learning.

I'll second Ender's Game and add The Martian Child by David Gerrold, The Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov, Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon by Robert Heinlein, The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clark, How to Pick up Girls at Parties by Neal Gaiman, Air Raid by John Varley, Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Vernor Vinge, and The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula LeGuin.

Here is a great reading experiment: Have them read "Queen" by Gene Wolfe (in Innocents Abroad) in class (it is only 6 pages). Have them discuss the story. Then, if nobody tumbles to the meaning of the story, tell them that the story is about Mary, mother of Jesus and have them read it again. It will bring tears to their eyes, and show them how much a little insight can add to a story.


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KayTi
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I have some Asimov-edited anthologies that are pretty awesome. I think there's something really interesting about exploring sci-fi with a non/reluctant reader audience. Start with some fun brainstorming exercises about what the world will be like in 50 years. Then read some short stories set in that timeframe.
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debhoag
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How old are your kids? what's the reading level?
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Gnomeinclaychair
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Thanks folks!

Keep 'em coming. Any crime stories?

These kids are 14-19 or so. Reading level ranges from 4th grade to 11th, though I've found that they'll plow through anything they're interested in. We do Shakespeare every year and they like it. We read A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin last year and they loved it. They like Richard Matheson too - we read "Button, Button" and "Duel" by him last year. The girls likes "The Yellow Wallpaper" but the guys only sorta liked "Gentlemen, be Seated" by Heinlein and "The Toynbee Convector" by Bradbury.

These aren't dumb kids, but they don't have a lot of practice thinking about ideas. They can handle quirky writing, but the further out there the story goes, the more trouble I'm gonna have selling it.


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Antinomy
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I know just the book for your guys: Blue World, by Robert McCammon. It contains 12 short stories and one novella. These stories are of the Stephen King variety; creepy, mysterious, scary and intriguing. Although written in 1990 it still rocks. Yellow Jacket Summer, for example, offers such realistic visuals you’ll think about it whenever you see an ordinary wasp.


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Wolfe_boy
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I'm going to make a second call for Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". I read it a year or so ago and the language isn't too old fashioned (not like Young Goodman Brown) and the story is an interesting study in characterization.

I also remember, after reading it in the 9th grade with my clas, who a dozen of us started our own lottery, the loser getting a punch in the shoulder from everyone else who was in the lottery. I lost two times in a row!

Another story I loved, simply loved, is "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Read it in Junior High as well, and it's stuck with me ever since.

Jayson Merryfield


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InarticulateBabbler
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The Utterly Perfect Murder by Ray Bradbury. Actually, Bradbury's got a ton of short stories, and he is associated with a system of using his stories for teachers.
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halogen
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This isn't a specific reference but what about letting your students pick stories they like from East of the Web?

I'm fond of They're Made out of Meatand Escalation

[This message has been edited by halogen (edited September 26, 2007).]


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HeIsDeads
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I saw that Wolfe_boy busted out "Harrison Bergeron", but I'm surprised no one already mentioned the rest of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Welcome to the Monkey House. There's like 25 short stories in the version I have, including "Harrison Bergeron". Another favorite of mine was Everything's Eventual by Stephen King. Several scary and weird stories there.


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HuntGod
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If you want something light hearted and fun you might wanna check out the Robert Aspirin Myth books. I remember them fondly and my 11 year old just started them and is enjoying them as well.
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TaleSpinner
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I had some success recently with a reluctant teen reader by giving him Ender's Game and a collection of Asimov's short stories about robots. I was surprised and pleased that the latter stood the tests of time and modern vocabulary.

Just 2c,
Pat


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WouldBe
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Orson Scott Card edited an anthology science fiction stories (Masterpieces--The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century). It has a wide variety of stories from a chuckler about bears discovering fire to much larger themes. The stories run mustly from 6-20 pages. It featues Asimov, Clark, Gibson, Heinlein, Le Guin, Pohl and others. I bought one recently, so it is still in print.

[This message has been edited by WouldBe (edited October 01, 2007).]


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