Top Ten Short Story Anthologies for Teens by Kasey Short
Short Story anthologies have so much to offer middle and high school age children. Teens are often still deciding what types of books they enjoy, looking for authors whose work engages them, and may not have significant time to invest in reading outside of school assignments. These approachable books provide an opportunity for teens to explore various authors and writing styles and choose if they want to read one, a few, or all the short stories. Each of these anthologies offer unique collections of diverse and engaging short stories for teens that illustrate valuable lessons about humanity.
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi is a powerful collection of young adult short stories about Black youth written by Black authors. Each story shows the complexity of being young and Black in America. The stories illustrate a wide range of experiences in terms of geographic location, socioeconomic status, sexuality, and family dynamics. The stories tackle issues such as colorism, code-switching, LGBTQ acceptance, racism, sexism and more; while also making the reader laugh and fully engage with everyday experiences.
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith is a collection of short stories and poems that weave together the stories of a diverse group of Native tweens that all attend the same Mother Earth Powwow. Each story in this collection can be read as a standalone story but are best when read collectively, because the reader is able to discover how each of the stories are connected. The collection exemplifies the diversity of Native people by showing there is not one way to be Native but instead that Native families come from a variety of tribes, backgrounds communities. It also illustrates the strength, pride, joy, and interconnectedness of their Native communities.
Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home edited by Adi Alsaid is a collection of captivating stories written by whose experience was shaped by immigration. Each story weaves in theme of “finding home” and shows that it is both a universal and individual experience. They also include relevant current events that highlight the relevance of the characters to youth today. This collection shows the complex lives of immigrants and the joy and pain of their experiences permeate through each of their stories.
Us in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos by Lulu Delacreis a collection of stories all based real events and people from current events and individual experiences of young Latinos. The source notes at the end of the book are a must read to fully appreciated the truth behind each of the stories. The author begins each story with a mixed-media portrait of the main character. These portraits invite the reader to consider the emotion on the character’s face and be drawn deeper into the story. The art adds a unique aspect to the book and is engaging to young readers. The stories represent Latinos from a variety of backgrounds, geographic locations, and explore a multitude of experiences.
Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles includes a collection of short stories, a graphic short story and a one-act play written by diverse young adult authors. The stories offer a fresh viewpoint on topics that represent current life as a teenager. The collection includes stories that address topics such as transgender athletes, poverty, coming out, racism, police brutality, and immigration. Some stories present on the surface as simply about superheroes or young love, but they all offer the reader an opportunity to critically examine our current society and consider philosophical questions about humanity.
Once Upon Eid: Stories of hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Seed is a beautiful and joyous collection of short stories, a poem, and graphic short story written by Muslim authors about celebrating Eid. Each story showcases a different adolescent character who celebrates Eid in their own unique way with diverse geographic locations, traditions, and family dynamics. Each story is engaging and full of love, emotion and exemplifies the significance of the holiday. The stories can be read individually but there is a value in reading all of them and seeing breadth of ways Eid is celebrated.
The Hero Next Door edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is an authentic collection of short stories that include characters that represent a wide range of diversity. This provides young readers an opportunity to access a multitude of perspectives all in one book. Each story shows kids that they have the potential to be a hero in their own lives by showcasing characters who overcome challenges, make a commitment to the right thing, and ultimately make their world a better place.
13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen edited by James Howe is a captivating collection of stories that show the complexity of being 13 and stuck somewhere between childhood and being an adult. The stories highlight the joyous, confusing, emotional, and difficult time that middle grade students are experiencing. The stories include common adolescent experiences such as: a first crush, wanting to fit in, peer pressure, standing up for one’s beliefs, exploring sexuality, and more. The characters represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and allow the reader to feel seen, make connections, and to gain a better understanding of other’s experiences.
Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance edited by Bethany Morrow is an inspiring collection of stories for young adults that show teens standing up, speaking out and resisting in the way that is needed in their life. It includes stories about speaking up to online trolls, marching to protest oppression, standing up to friends, saying no, calling out oppressors, and more. The stories encourage readers by showing powerful examples of how seemingly “small” acts can have a big impact.
A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton is empowering collection of young adult fantasy that features diverse characters of color and LGBTQI+ characters. The stories are engaging and immerse the reader in worlds with genies, princesses who are not waiting to be saved, monsters that are not what they seem, spells, wishes, spaceships and more. The stories show the reader that everyone has a place in fantasy worlds and allows a diverse group of readers to see and imagine themselves in another world.
Kasey Short (@shortisweet3) attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a Bachelor of Arts in middle school education with a concentration in English and history. She went on to earn a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Winthrop University. She is currently an eighth grade ELA teacher and English Department chair at Charlotte (NC) Country Day School. She frequently writes blog posts about her classroom practices and sharing her love of books.