“Why is everything we read so depressing?” <– Sound familiar?
If your students are requesting some lighter literature, check out some of the funny short stories for high schoolers I’ve rounded up. These easy-to-read short stories will make your students smile, but there are plenty of opportunities for literary analysis as well. I’ve noted some of the highlights, but I’m sure you’ll find plenty more of your own!
You’ll notice a lot of Dave Barry here– he’s lots of fun! If you’re not familiar with him, he’s a columnist for the Miami Herald, and has been for many years. His tongue-in-cheek humor columns make for great short stories. (Not everything he writes is classroom-appropriate, but the ones below are just fine [after one edit, which I’ve pointed out]).
Just click on the titles to access the full version of each story!
- “Miami’s Getting to Be a Real Jungle” by Dave Barry
- 551 words
- Good examples of satire, embedded quotations, sarcasm
- “Our African Safari Was a Big Pile of … Adventure” by Dave Barry
- 901 words
- Good examples of simile, understatement, sarcasm
- To be school appropriate, it might need minor editing in the final 3 paragraphs.
- “Did Somebody Smell a Rat?” by Dave Barry
- 943 words
- Good examples of hyperbole, sarcasm, understatement, irony
- “The Avenging Flight Attendant of Doom” by Dave Barry
- 876 words
- Good examples of hyperbole, story within a story, malaprop
- “The Dinner Party” by Mona Gardner
- 520 words
- Good example of situational irony
- While not laugh-out-loud funny, the wry ending will elicit a smile from your students.
- Discussion questions and activities included on the page
- “The Eyes Have It” by Philip K. Dick
- 1065 words
- Good example of satire and irony
- A satire of American English idioms written in an amusing science fiction style
- Note the word play of the title (and how it plays into the theme of idioms), and the irony of the last line.
- “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry
- 4154 words
- Good examples of hyperbole, irony, slapstick, foreshadowing, inference, allusion
- Great story for determining new vocab. based on context clues
- An American classic that your students may have read in middle school, but would benefit from reading again on a high school level
- A fun read with the expected O. Henry twist
- A couple of outdated terms that might be offensive today should possibly be edited out.
- “What Stumped the Bluejays” by Mark Twain
- 2080 words
- Good examples of subtle irony, anthropomorphism, dialect, and hyperbole
I hope you’re able to use some of these fun stories in your ELA classroom!
I’d suggest copying and pasting the text of the stories from these webpages into a document that you can either print out or assign as a PDF. This will make them easier for students to read without all the distractions of the ads and pictures on the webpages.
[Of course, if you choose to do this, be sure you include the original source on the document you give to students, and do not share your copied-and-pasted version of the stories with anyone besides your students!]
For more helpful ELA classroom resources, check out my Big List of Free Resources for ELA Teachers!
If you have any great suggestions of funny short stories to add to the list, leave them in the comments below!