CommonLit Secondary Classrooms 6 Short Stories About Love to Get Your Heart Beating

Love is a complex emotion, but it can be found everywhere, especially in this list of short stories about love that will pull at your heartstrings!

Our capacity to love is what makes us human. Love can be found in our relationships with partners, family, and friends. It fuels our passions, our goals, and our values. With these 6 short stories about love from CommonLit’s free digital literacy program, your middle school students will explore what love means to them and how to express it.

The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde (6th Grade)

In this short fable, a selfish giant, who does not want to share his garden, learns how to love after he helps a lonely, little boy climb a tree. Through the special bond he builds with the boy, the giant happily welcomes children, who remind him of his friend, into his flowering backyard.

Love has the power to bring the best out in people. Bolster your students’ reading comprehension skills by using Discussion Question 5: “In the context of this story, how are we changed by love?” as a starting point for students to share love’s ability to help people grow.

Screenshot of a short story about the power of love called “The Selfish Giant"

Mother and Daughter” by Gary Soto (6th Grade)

In this short story about love, Yollie needs a new dress to catch the eye of her crush during her eighth grade dance. Although her mother does not have enough money to buy her one, she finds ways to express her love by supporting her daughter the best she can.

Love can be found in many kinds of relationships, especially within a family. Help your students explore the ways that love can be shown to others by incorporating more Gary Soto stories in your lessons. Use CommonLit’s Gary Soto Unit to answer: “How does love affect us?”

Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes (7th Grade)

In this short story, a boy named Roger attempts to steal Mrs. Jones’s pocketbook. Instead of being met with anger or violence, the boy is welcomed into Mrs. Jones’s home for a hot meal, money, and meaningful conversation. The kindness Mrs. Jones shows to Roger is a testament to her loving heart.

Empathy is the cornerstone for human connection. It is the way people express their love! Prepare your students for reading assessments by reviewing Assessment Question 5: “How does Mrs. Jones’s response to Roger’s actions contribute to the development of the theme?” to examine the role of empathy.

A screenshot of an assessment question about a short story about love.

What Love Isn’t” by Yrsa Daley-Ward (7th Grade)

In this honest poem about love, the speaker explains how love is hard and overwhelming, but also fruitful and beautifully consuming. The speaker does not shy away from stating how love is complicated and how it does not fit the media’s portrayals.

Many people’s conceptions of love are based on how it is shown on TV, in movies, and in books. In these cases, love can often be romanticized or dramatized. Use Discussion Question 1: “How is love often portrayed in the media? Is this an accurate representation of love? Why or why not?” to examine the role of the media in defining love.

The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry (8th Grade)

In this tender text, Jim and Della sacrifice their most prized possessions to get one another the best Christmas present. Although finances strain their plans for the holiday, their selfless gestures symbolize that physical items cannot compare to the true meaning of loving each other.

Giving is a way to express love. Explore this literature theme by using one of the paired texts like “Excerpt from ‘A Christmas Carol’: The Second of the Three Spirits.” Then, ask students to discuss the lessons of each text and how they contribute to their understanding of love.

How I Found True Love in an Arranged Marriage” by Surabhi Surendra (8th Grade)

In this personal essay, Surabhi Surendra explains the beautiful journey of finding love within an arranged marriage. Through open communication about shared goals and values, she discusses how her fears diminished when she realized how her now husband was the one for her.

Arranged marriage is one of the avenues through which people discover love today. Use Discussion Question 2: “How is an arranged marriage different from or similar to other ways people find and experience love today?”  

Screenshot of a short story about love called “How I Found True Love in an Arranged Marriage.”

Next Steps

Looking for a short story about love or more texts to explore love? Check out our resources in our digital library or our stories under the Theme of Love.

Interested in utilizing all of CommonLit’s features to supplement your ELA curriculum? Sign up for one of our upcoming webinars to learn about our free digital literacy program!