Teaching classic short stories with multimedia resources

This post was originally published in Nick Glass’ monthly column for Curriculum Connections, an e-newsletter published by School Library Journal in partnership with TeachingBooks.net. Subscribe to this free newsletter here.

Many educators assign their students short stories to read as they explore literary styles, genres, and writing techniques. This blog post offers audio performances, lesson plans and video clips to incorporate into your classroom activities and discussions about a handful of classic tales.

The first three stories listed below are text exemplars in the new Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts; the other selections are some of my personal favorites.

Poe (2)(Original Import)


“The Cask of Amontillado” (1846) by Edgar Allan Poe

Consider this extensive instructional plan on “Exploring Setting: Constructing Character, Point of View, Atmosphere, and Theme,” in Poe’s work from the IRA/NCTE ReadWriteThink website.


Hamilton (2)(Original Import)


The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales (Random, 1985) by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon

Listen to Arnold Adoff discuss and read from Hamilton’s short-story collection in this original TeachingBooks.net recording.


Henry (2)(Original Import)


The Gift of the Magi” (1906) by O. Henry

Explore O. Henry’s classic tale with the help of this Schmoop Learning Guide, which includes discussions of “Themes” and offers “Analysis,” “Questions,” and “Quizzes.”



Jackson (2)(Original Import)


“The Lottery” (1948) by Shirley Jackson

Introduce Jackson’s story with this dramatic reading by Maureen Stapleton, offered online by HarperAudio and the Internet Multicasting Service.



Hughes (2)(Original Import)


“Thank You, M’am” (1958) by Langston Hughes

Expand discussions on integrity and ethics with a reading of Hughes’s story and this detailed lesson plan from the Institute for Character Education.



jimenez (2)(Original Import)


“Under the Wire” from The Circuit (Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1997)by Francisco Jiménez

Watch and listen as Francisco Jiménez reads from his 1997 story collection about his childhood experiences as a migrant farm worker in California.


Baldwin (2)(Original Import)


The Fire Next Time (Penguin, 1963) by James Baldwin

Compare and contrast Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time with two of his short stories using this lesson plan from Annenberg Learner website.



Bradbury (2)(Original Import)


Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales (William Morrow, 2003) by Ray Bradbury

View these video clips of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury discussing short stories, celebrations, Fahrenheit 451, and other topics.


Posted by Nick Glass, Founder & Executive Director of TeachingBooks.net

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