Discover 5 short stories by Gary Soto in CommonLit’s free digital library.
Boost students’ reading comprehension and engagement with relatable coming-of-age stories from Baseball in April and Other Stories by Mexican-American author Gary Soto. This book contains 11 short stories in which the author captures significant themes in the everyday life of teengers. You can find 5 of these short stories in CommonLit’s free digital library.
Gary Soto’s stories about tough and vulnerable teenagers who overcome personal trials will resonate with your middle school students. Supplement your ELA curriculum with these 5 short stories about family and growing up, along with CommonLit’s reading assessments and discussion questions accessible through CommonLit’s free online reading program.
“The Marble Champ” by Gary Soto (5th Grade)
Lupe is a shy, straight-A student who has won multiple awards in academic competitions, but is not good at sports. Determined to excel in a sport, Lupe decides to become a competitive marbles player. After weeks of practice and hard work, Lupe wins the marbles championship.
Before students read the text, ask them to take notes on how Lupe reacts and responds to the challenges she faces. Then, have them use their notes to answer Assessment Question 5, “How do Lupe’s thoughts and actions contribute to the theme of the story?” Giving students the opportunity to read about what they've read is a great way to build reading comprehension skills.
“Growing Up” by Gary Soto (6th Grade)
Maria doesn’t want to go on her family vacation this year as she recalls being bored on their last trip. After she argues with her father about it, he reluctantly allows her to stay behind. Feeling guilty about the argument, Maria worries about her family the entire time and doesn’t enjoy being at home alone.
To help students practice for rigorous grade-level reading assessments, have them take notes throughout the story. They can use their notes to provide supporting evidence in their answer for Assessment Question 5, “How does Maria’s changing attitude emphasize the theme of the short story? Use details from the text to support your answer.”
“Mother and Daughter” by Gary Soto (6th Grade)
Mrs. Moreno cannot afford to buy her daughter, Yollie, a new dress for the school dance. She comes up with a plan to help Yollie dress her best, so that Yollie can feel confident and have fun at the dance with her friends.
Ask students Discussion Question 2, “In the context of the story, what makes a family? How does Mrs. Moreno show Yollie that she cares about her? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.” If you want students to work on their writing skills, have them write down their answers before starting the class discussion.
“Seventh Grade” by Gary Soto (6th Grade)
Victor is excited about the new school year because his crush, Teresa, is in several of his classes, including French. When his French teacher, Mr. Bueller, asks the class if anyone knows French, Victor raises his hand to impress Teresa. Victor fumbles when he tries to answer Mr. Buller’s questions in French, getting himself in a sticky situation.
Encourage students to make text-to-self connections by leading a classroom discussion with Discussion Question 1, “Have you ever lied or exaggerated to impress someone? What happened?”
“The No-Guitar Blues” by Gary Soto (6th Grade)
In this short story, Fausto wants a guitar, but his parents can’t afford to buy him one. When he finds an unattended, collared dog in his neighborhood, Fausto decides to fabricate a story to get a reward from its owners and use the money to buy a guitar. After he meets the dog’s owners and receives a reward, Fausto feels terrible about his white lie, and decides to set things right.
As students read, have them take notes on how Fausto feels about his plan to get a guitar. Then, they can use their notes to provide evidence in their answer for Assessment Question 8, “How does Fausto’s attitude about getting a guitar change throughout the story? Use details from the story in your answer.”
Looking for more great short stories by Gary Soto? Check out the CommonLit library!
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