I think short, high interest reading that teens can relate / connect with will help their reading ability, and will be an introduction into the junior/senior curriculum. I want something that can be read in one class period with time for writing about it.
I have frequently recommended A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, a minor American classic. It is a coming-of-age story about a girl who loves to read, and may appeal more to girls than to boys. There are many coming-of-age novels about boys but I don't know of any other good ones involving girls. As for coming-of-age novels for boys, I have recommended (with good results) The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, Martin Eden by Jack London, and the Nick Adams stories by Ernest Hemingway. Two novels that young people seem to love are Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich and More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon (considered by some the best science-fiction novel of all). I should think most adolescents would love the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels if they haven't encountered them already.
As an earlier post indicated, Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" seems to resonate with students in the 17-18 year old range--it's only two pages and provokes discussion about women and their position in society, as well as an author's use of irony.
Because I teach college freshmen and sophomores most of the time, I'm at the higher end of your age scale, but I have had great discussions Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," which is a bit longer than you might want, but would work for two sessions. Students also seem to thoroughly enjoy Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil," which, again, might require two sessions because of its length.
For coming-of-age stories, you might want to try John Updike's "A & P," which is fairly short and always generates good discussion because many 16-18 year olds can identify with the story's main character, Sammy.
I've used "The Garden Party" also with good success. "The Sniper" was effective with boys. Also, does anyone know the name of the story where two members of opposing gangs sit down together to play Russian Roulette with a loaded gun? They get to know each other through discussion, become sort of friends, and decide not to use the gun. Then, to fulfill what their respective gangs expect, both of them use the gun in a game of roulette and one is killed. This story was SO effective with 16-18 year old students that I'm truly sorry that I cannot remember the name of the story. One character is named Dave, I think.
Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and Roald Dahl's Lamb tothe Slaughter are quite popular. As well as Katherine Mansfield, there are other New Zealand short story writers such as Graham Lay, Maurice Gee and Patricia Grace who have some excellent worksd appopriate for your students.
My juniors and seniors love Kate Chopin's and Shirley Jackson's stories. Their favorite novel to read is both Speak and Monster (by Walter Dean Myers). (While both novels, they are very quick reads--not one class period though.) I one must not forget to bring up Poe; I love Poe, but my students have always hated him for some reason. Regardless, I still teach him every year.
Read some of the short stories of Raymond Carver. He wrote from the 1960s through the mid-1980s, and his stories are edgy, stare commonly found social problems right in the face, and deal with issues of alcohol and family crises that many teens can relate to in their own lives. They are also wonderful stories for class discussions. They are not trite nor overly dramatic, and they do not insult the reader's intelligence while they are still engaging to a wide audience.
One story that intrigues students is Arna Bontemps "Lonesome Boy, Silver Trumpet." Bontemps is a Harlem Renaissance writer from Louisiana who collaborated with Langston Hughes on two poetry books.
Interestingly, this story has certain characteristics of a folk tale as in the last part, the main character Bubber, whose obsessive playing of his silver trumpet leads him to a riverboat and work in New Orleans has an experience of myth-like quality. Whether Bubber has actually experienced what occurs or he has had delusions/dreams is a good topic for discussion. Certainly, this story is unique and piques student interest.
I personally have had great success with the short stories of Kate Chopin and Katherine Mansfield. I seem to have classes of female students for my English teaching, however, so the obvious feminine perspective appeals to these groups. Stories that I have used with great success would be "The Garden Party" by Mansfield and "The Story of an Hour" by Chopin.
My students love most of the short stories by Flannery O'Connor. She creates such memorable characters and creates story that have interesting situations and unexpected events, yet all of the characters have what O'Connor sometimes called "a moment of grace." What is interesting is what kind of grace it is and how it comes about. I would especially recommend:
- "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
- "Good Country People"
- "Everything that Rises Must Converge"
- "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"
"The Most Dangerous Game" is good, though perhaps a bit on the low side of this range in terms of reading level. What about "Lamb to the Slaughter?" That's a good one that's pretty amusing in a dark sort of way and might appeal to students of that age. The same might go for "The Monkey's Paw" or "The Interlopers."
All the short stories of Robert Louis Stevenson are grand, especially the Prince Florizel New Arabian Nights stories, though these may be too long and involved. Pavilion on the Links is a particular favorite that is outside the Prince Florizel series. [There is another great one about a professor and a student and a brain transfer and a chicken and a daughter ... but I can't place the author or title .... Anyone else find ringing bells from the description?]
Some of the shorter works of Kate Chopin might fit the bill. The obvious choice would be "The Story of an Hour," which can easily be read and written about in the time available. Students of all kinds seem to enjoy the story. I once taught it to eight-graders, and it provoked a great deal of discussion. Chopin's "Desiree's Baby" is not quite as short but is very provocative. Much shorter is her work "The Blind Man," which also provokes good discussions.
I have had nothing but success with William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily." Living in the South, the story gives a good historical lesson about late 19th century and early 20th century history, but what the kids really like is guessing about what "the smell" could be--and, of course, the incredible, surprise ending.
Edgar Allan Poe's short stories hold a high interest and present excellent writing-assignment possibilities. Few kids find anything boring about "The Cask of Amontillado" or "The Tell-Tale Heart."
* Jack London's short stories are gripping stories of survival that would appeal to older teenages who love the outdoors.
* Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" mysteries are delightful and keep the brain thinking.
Books by Kate Choplin,Shirley Jackson,Raymond Carver and Katherine Mansfield are really great books. These novels are very interesting and are very quick reads. These stories are unique and are open to a wide audience.
I personally suggest Dan Browns books:- 'Da Vinci Code' or 'Angels and Deamons'.
'The lord of the rings' by Tolkien is also interesting.
I think short stories by Flannery O'Connor and O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) would be appropriate/interesting. They are entertaining and easy to analyze.
i will recommand u the novels 0f Nicholas spark especially A WALK TO REMEMBER n NOTEBOOK........u should als0 try TWILIGHT SAGA superb fiction.....