NEW Short Stories on CommonLit for Elementary and Middle School Students

Three students sitting at a table, looking at one student's computer screen.

Exciting new short stories for grades 4-8 from famous authors like Gary Soto, Meg Medina, and more!

The CommonLit team is excited to announce that over the next few months we will be adding dozens of new stories to our library. Today, we are able to share six new stories with you just in time for winter break lesson-planning. If you are looking for new lessons to assign through CommonLit, here are some select passages from newly added texts in our library.

"Stray" by Cynthia Rylant (Grade 4)

A German shepherd dog.

Cynthia Rylant is an American author and librarian who has written more than 100 children’s books, and her stories often focus on themes of friendship, grief, and love. In “Stray,” a young girl brings home a puppy and tries to convince her parents to keep it.

You can find two other stories by Cynthia Rylant in our library: “Shells” and “Drying Out.”

"Marble Champ" by Gary Soto (Grade 5)

Gary Soto is an American poet, novelist, and memoirist. He often writes about coming of age. In “Marble Champ,” a determined young girl named Lupe sets out to overcome a challenge and prove herself in a marble championship.

You can find many other stories, poems, and essays by Gary Soto in our library. Simply type in “Gary Soto” in the search bar and click the search button.

"A Present for Mrs. Robertson" by Meg Medina (Grade 6)

A pile of wrapped gifts.

Meg Medina is a New York Times best-selling author. When she’s not writing, she works on community projects that support girls, Latinx youth, and literacy. In “A Present for Mrs. Robertson,” a young girl named Maria Elisa gives her teacher an unexpectedly perfect present.

The related media paired with this story features two heartwarming videos of teachers reuniting with graduated students. Share these videos with students and ask them to consider who has had a positive impact on their lives. In what ways can we express this gratitude?

"The Fan Club" by Rona Maynard (Grade 7)

A jar with colorful shells.

Rona Maynard is an author, magazine editor, and mental health advocate. When Maynard was just 14 years old, she submitted “The Fan Club” to a writing contest and won. It became her first published work. In “The Fan Club,” a girl named Laura is afraid of being bullied by her classmates, only to discover that another classmate is the target.

The story’s conclusion is sure to provoke reactions from students. Use the CommonLit discussion questions to facilitate a conversation with your class about the ending and Laura’s actions. Did she make the right choice?

"The Golden Kite, The Silver Wind" by Ray Bradbury (Grade 7)

Ray Bradbury was an American author and screenwriter, best known for his science fiction work. “The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind” tells the story of a king who struggles to learn what is best for his town.

This story is an allegory, and you can use it to introduce or reinforce the concept of allegory with students. As a reminder, all of the texts in CommonLit’s library are tagged with relevant genres, making the search for certain passages easier and more efficient!

If you are interested in assigning more stories by Ray Bradbury, we have recently added another of his stories: “The Pedestrian”

"Stories Saved My Life and That’s Why I Write for Young People" by James Bird (Grade 8)

A notebook, opened to a blank page, with a sharp pencil, pencil sharpener, and pencil shavings on top.

James Bird is a screenwriter, director, and author. As a Californian native of Ojibwe descent, Bird grew up feeling “different.” In this moving essay, Bird talks about the power of storytelling and the importance of diversity in perspectives.

Students can use the annotation tool to take notes from themselves and respond to the annotation task. If you would like students to focus their annotations on a specific skill or idea in the text, you can customize the annotation task to your class’s needs.

Next Steps

Looking for more great texts to share with your students? Check out our CommonLit library!

If you’re interested in learning all about CommonLit’s free digital literacy program, join one of our upcoming webinars!