These 6 original stories, found exclusively on CommonLit, will be great additions to your ELA curriculum to help build reading comprehension for your students! These short stories will teach elementary students important themes such as friendship and family, justice and equality, and growing up.
“Game On!” by Kris Bitar (3rd Grade)
A shy new boy at school named Dee catches the eye of an outgoing young girl named Jo-Jo. When Jo-Jo notices Dee spends most of his time alone, she decides she is going to be his first new friend. After learning that Dee loves video games as much as she does, Jo-Jo comes up with the idea of using video games to help Dee feel welcomed at school.
After reading, lead a class discussion on Discussion Question 3, “Jo-Jo was able to connect with Dee because they both enjoy video games. How do shared interests bring people together? What hobbies or activities do you like to do with others?” Giving students the opportunity to talk about what they’ve read is a great way to build reading comprehension skills!
“Kevin’s Big Adventure” by Kris Bitar (3rd Grade)
Kevin’s mom always said he can’t leave home alone, but when he picks up the smell of a fresh steak he can’t help but to follow the scent. When he realizes he is too far from home and can't find his way back, Kevin becomes scared and misses his mom. A kind stranger takes him in and helps him reunite with his mother and Kevin realizes how important it is to follow her rules.
As students read, have them take note of Kevin’s thoughts about his mom’s rules. Students can talk through Discussion Question 3, “In this story, Kevin learns why rules are important. Was there a time you broke a rule and then realized why it was necessary? What happened? If not, what's a rule that helps keep you safe or happy?”
“Hearing Hoofbeats” by Pamela Love (3rd Grade)
Grace is so excited to go to her aunt and uncle’s farm that she reads all about horses to prepare for her visit. When she accidentally spooks Rose, the female horse, Grace’s uncle asks her to keep her distance. One morning, Grace notices Rose is limping and remembers that she read that the bottom of the horse's foot is very delicate. She quickly grabs her uncle and saves Rose from a potentially bad injury.
Grace has to make a quick decision to help Rose when she notices she is hurt. Have students discuss a time when they had to make a split-second decision about something. What was it and what did they do? How did their decision affect the situation? Encourage students to use their own experience or the experience of a character from a book, history, or movie.
“Pumpkin Head” by Shelby Ostergaard (4th Grade)
Chloe is ecstatic when her cousin Nicole invites Chloe to play an online game with Nicole’s group of friends. As they play, they primarily talk about a boy called Pumpkin Head who they claim cheated when they battled him in the game. In an attempt to win their approval, Chloe battles Pumpkin Head with the intention of making fun of him, but she soon realizes she has made a big mistake.
Have students practice their writing skills by completing a written response for Discussion Question 2, “Chloe decides to make fun of Ethan with the NANA Besties because she wants them to like her. Have you ever done something because you wanted someone to like you? What happened? If you have not done something because you wanted someone to like you, why do you think people do this?”
“The Test” by Shelby Ostergaard (5th Grade)
Known as the smartest kid in class, Javon is frustrated when he can’t grasp a new math unit. After finding out his friend Tyler received extra time to complete the test, Javon and Tyler get into a verbal conflict about the unfair treatment. The math teacher, Mr. T, talks to the boys to de-escalate the conflict, and Javon learns a big lesson about accepting each other’s differences.
Pair “The Test” with “The Girl Who Listened with Her Feet” to discuss fairness and equality with students. Encourage students to pull from their own experiences to talk about why it is important for people to have what they need to be successful.
“Pride and Premises” by Nola Bamcock (5th Grade)
In this short story about honesty and truthfulness, Luke and his brothers take their dad’s prized football to play catch. A neighborhood bully forces them to let him join the game, and when he does he throws the football into a monastery they aren't allowed to enter. Luke sneaks into the monastery to retrieve the ball on his own, but he is unsuccessful and feels guilty for breaking the rules. After confessing what happened to his mom, she gets the ball back and he learns the importance of asking for help when you need it.
Prepare students for rigorous grade-level reading assessments by assigning Assessment Question 5, “How does the author use paragraph 2 to set the reader up for the rest of the story?
Interested in more elementary short stories to share with your students? Check out more CommonLit original short stories on our library!
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