Short stories are some of the first pieces of literature that children become acquainted with in their lives. However, as we age, sometimes we forget what these stories are about, their key elements or the ways that they continue to shape our lives.
While "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is certainly one of the most famous examples of short stories, other tales such as Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Lottery Ticket" by Anton Chekhov also fall into this category. Read on to enjoy several examples of short stories for children and adults.
Although we're introduced to short stories as children, the fascination may remain all throughout our lives. If it's your goal to make the switch from reader to writer someday, you'll benefit from the article Get Creative: How to Write a Short Story. Until then, let's enjoy some examples from the masters.
We'll begin with children's tales and fables since people are generally familiar with these stories. Perhaps you enjoyed the Berenstain Bears as a child or got excited by a juicy Goosebumps story.
Here are some examples of short stories for kids. They're available in book format, but people also share these stories via word-of-mouth.
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by Robert Southey
"Little Red Riding Hood" by Charles Perrault
"Hansel and Gretel" by the Brothers Grimm
"Peter Pan" by James Matthew Barrie
"The Boy Who Cried Wolf" by Aesop (from Aesop's Fables)
"The Tortoise and the Hare" by Aesop (from Aesop's Fables)
"The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen
"The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen
"The Princess and the Pea" by Hans Christian Andersen
"The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Andersen
"The Gingerbread Man" by Jim Aylesworth
"The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore
"The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Andersen
"Rapunzel" by the Brothers Grimm
"Beauty and the Beast" by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve
"Cinderella" by Charles Perrault
"Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving
"The Prince and the Pauper" by Mark Twain
"Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" by the Brothers Grimm
"Three Little Pigs" by James Halliwell-Phillipps
"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak
"The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss
"Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss
"Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch
"Corduroy" by Don Freeman
"The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter
"The Little Engine That Could" by Watty Piper
"The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister
"Stone Soup" by Ann McGovern
Whether contemporary or classic, all of these tales fit the description of a short story - they tell a complete story in a small number of words. Many of these stories have morals or teach a lesson too.
Of course, short stories aren't just for children. Here are some short story examples that might spark a lifelong love for the genre:
"The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe
"The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry
"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant
"The Lady with the Little Dog" by Anton Chekhov
"Souls Belated" by Edith Wharton
"About Barbers" by Mark Twain
"The Garden of Paradise" by Hans Christian Andersen
"Leave It to Jeeves" by P.G. Wodehouse
"Out of Nazareth" by O. Henry
"Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell
"Portrait of King William III" by Mark Twain
"Two Boys at Grinders' Brothers" by Henry Lawson
"What Christmas Is As We Grow Older" by Charles Dickens
"The Dead" by James Joyce
"To Build a Fire" by Jack London
"The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury
"In the Penal Colony" by Franz Kafka
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe
Reading some of these short stories will better acquaint you with the short story form and the challenges of the author to develop an interesting plot and detailed characters in a minimal amount of words.
If you look around, short stories abound. They can be drawn from something as simple as a trip to the market or as monumental as the death of a family member. Love sparks stories, as does misfortune.
As you savor your stories, keep these elements of a plot in mind. See how each author ticks off important elements, from the rising action, to the climax, to the resolution. Then, we hope you'll try your hand at storytelling someday!