The Best Poems and Short Stories for Middle School


Engaging Poems


While some are required, students lose interest after reading novel after novel. Take a break from the lengthier pieces of literature and tap into your students’ interests with some of these engaging short stories and poems for middle school students.

Being that poems and short stories are “short”, these are great transitions from one text to another. Secondly, choose poems and short stories that relates to a theme you are teaching. Poems and short stories are excellent for ancillary material for a unit or to create a unit that is differentiated.

Here is a list of poems and short stories that will engage your middle school students!


Suggested Poems and Short Stories

“Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou (poem)

Ms. Angelou says she wrote this poem, “for all children who whistle in the dark and who refuse to admit that they’re frightened out of their wits.” The poem is a great way for teaching students about making inferences and point of view. 

“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros (short story)

This short story goes into detail explaining why, when you’re 11 years old you’re also 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 year old, too! Inferencing, theme, point of view and figurative language can all be taught through this short story. 

“Harlem: Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes (poem)

What you do in regard to dreams you have, is much more important than what you think about in terms of your dreams, is what we are reminded of by this poem. This poem is also a great way to teach middle school students about figurative language, inferencing and theme.

“A Rose That Grew from Concrete” by Tupac Shakur (poem)

 While this poem is short in length, man is it deep and complex. Students will enjoy learning about metaphors and personification through this poem. 

“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl (short story)

While Mary Maloney is mostly a victim (of circumstances) in this short story, she also is her husband’s murderer! This story is a great way to teach students about irony. Also, if you are looking for an assessment after reading this great short story, be sure to check out my 30 question assessment product, HERE!

Short Story

These are just a few of my favorite short stories and poems that I do with my middle school students. Be sure to email me with some more you think I should look into at


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