Middle School Read-Alouds that Take Less than 10 Minutes
I love reading novels aloud to my students, but sometimes I want something short and self-contained. These books will give you enough read-aloud material to last an entire school year (and then some). Not only are they great to use at the start of each class, they’re also perfect “sponge activitites” for soaking up extra time at the end of class, or while you’re waiting for a special event to start and have five or ten minutes to kill.
Paul Harvey’s the Rest of the Story and More of Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story: My students love these short, true stories. They always have a twist at the end, and the kids love trying to figure them out.
Sudden Twists by Burton Goodman: I don’t typically like adapted stories, but this short collection has proven to be very popular with my students.
The World’s Shortest Stories: Murder, Love, Horror, Suspense, All This and Much More in the Most Amazing Short Stories Ever Written: Each of the stories in this collection are exactly 55 words long. After reading them for a few days I ask students to write their own 55-word story.
3 Minutes or Less: Life Lessons from America’s Greatest Writers: Great reflections and anecdotes that can lead to some deep discussions. Be sure to preview these before reading, as some of the content may not be appropriate for middle school.
Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up: Barry always brings a laugh, especially his four-part series on bad music: “Mustang Davey,” “The Whammies,” “The Worst Songs Ever Recorded,” “And the Winner Is…”; When I read these articles I bring a homemade CD of the bad songs he mentions for students to listen to, including “Having My Baby,” “Muskrat Love,” “Achy Breaky Heart,” and “MacArthur Park.”
The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class: This nonfiction book is kind of a “cultural literacy” collection. Each day has a different theme: Monday is History, Tuesday is Literature, and so on. I haven’t used this in class yet, but I plan to introduce it this year.
Clifton Fadiman’s Fireside Reader: Some of these fiction and nonfiction read-alouds are too long to read in ten minutes, but every one of them is high quality. Includes authors like Chekhov and Thucydides.
Out of Print But Worth Looking For
100 Great Fantasy Short, Short Stories: This anthology edited by Isaac Asimov contains some real gems, including several variations of the three wishes story and the darkly ironic “Give Her Hell.”
Microcosmic Tales: Also edited by Isaac Asimov, the collection features short short science fiction stories.
100 Malicious Little Mysteries: And yet another quality Asimov-edited collection.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories Not for the Nervous: A collection of macabre stories edited by the master of horror. Be sure to read “Don’t Look Behind You,” “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes,” and “For All the Rude People.” These usually take 20-30 minutes to read, so plan accordingly. “Don’t Look Behind You” makes a great Halloween story.