CommonLit Secondary Classrooms 6 Short Stories about Courage to Embolden Your Middle School Students

6 Short Stories about Courage to Embolden Your Middle School Students

Check out 6 relatable short stories about courage for middle school students in CommonLit’s free digital library!

Build a thematic unit on courage with CommonLit’s free digital literacy program. Access dozens of short stories about bravery with grade-level reading assessments that will boost students’ reading comprehension and engagement!

Here are 6 relatable short stories for middle school students you can use to supplement your ELA curriculum and lead engaging classroom discussions.

Saturday School” by Lulu Declare (6th Grade)

Sandra doesn’t want to go to Saturday School to learn “correct” Spanish, but she’s afraid to disappoint her mom. After a terrible first class, Sandra finally expresses her feelings to her mom. In turn, Sandra’s mom listens to her and decides to withdraw her from the class, so they can start their own Spanish book club.

Begin a classroom discussion with Discussion Question 3, “In ‘Saturday School,’ Sandra learns to speak up for herself. Based on your reading, what advice would you give to yourself or someone you know who needed to be brave?”

Tuesday of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer (6th Grade)

In this short story about courage, June begins swimming lessons at the community center. She meets another girl named June who starts tormenting her. June follows her mother’s advice and “turns the other cheek,” until the Other June’s bullying goes too far.

Strengthen students’ reading comprehension with Discussion Question 1, “In the story, June's mother tells her to "turn the other cheek." What does it mean to "turn the other cheek"? Do you think June's mother would have thought June’s actions at the end of the story were courageous? Why or why not?”

How to Ignore a House on Fire” by Nia Boulware (7th Grade)

Ever since his dad was hospitalized and his mom left, the narrator has been struggling to take care of his siblings as they face eviction. On the night before the eviction, the narrator tries to keep everything as normal as possible for his siblings. The next morning, the family heads to Florida, hoping that they can start a new life with family friends.

Start a classroom discussion about courage with Discussion Question 3, “What does it mean to be brave? Is the main character courageous in ‘How to Ignore a House on Fire’? What actions make them a strong person? What would you do differently?”

One Friday Morning” by Langston Hughes (7th Grade)

Nancy Lee looks forward to a future filled with opportunities after her painting wins the Artist Club scholarship. Later, she finds out that the Artist Club committee has rescinded her award after discovering that she is a student of color. Nancy Lee decides to fight to ensure that the discrimination she faced doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Strengthen your lesson plan by pairing this text with "Before Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin." Ask students to discuss what Nancy Lee would think of Claudette Colvin’s legacy. How were both Nancy Lee and Claudette Colvin affected by racism?

Text Pairings for “One Friday Morning” by Langston Hughes

The King of Mazy May” by Jack London (8th Grade)

Having grown up in Mazy May Creek, Walter feels compelled to protect his neighbor, Loren Hall, from prospectors who want to claim Loren Hall’s home. After newcomers arrive with a plan to take a part of Loren Hall’s property, Walter acts fast to protect the creek.

Pair this short story with “Malala Yousafzai’s Address to the United Nation, July 2013.” Have students compare how Malala and Walt were impacted by their different circumstances and environments. How did the time and place they lived in inspire both Malala and Walt to be courageous?

Monkeyman” by Walter Dean Myers (8th Grade)

In this short story about courage, the narrator dreams of leaving behind his dangerous neighborhood that is riddled with gang violence. When a new gang called the Tigros attacks a girl, the narrator's friend defends her.

As students read, have them take note of what the story is saying about courage. They can use their notes to answer Assessment Question 5, “What theme about courage does Walter Dean Meyers express in ‘Monkeyman’? This question will help students understand the main idea of the story.”

CommonLit Reading Lesson "Monkeyman" by Walter Dean Myers

Next Steps

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