Secondary Bring Humor to Your Class With These Entertaining Texts
These nine funny and satirical stories are sure to amuse your students!
Humor is a powerful literary tool that conveys important messages about life. Reading funny or satirical stories is a great way to make your students laugh and think critically at the same time!
Here is a great selection of texts from CommonLit that will amuse your students while also pushing them to engage in deep textual analysis.
“Dragon, Dragon” by John Gardner (6th Grade)
In this comical short story, three sons try to slay a dragon. The first two young men are overconfident and do not take their father’s advice seriously. They fail and are gobbled up by the dragon. The third son listens closely to his father and slays the dragon, saving the kingdom. Students can use this story to discuss how the author uses humor to convey an important message about hubris and wisdom.
“Southpaw” by Judith Viorst (6th Grade)
This unique short story follows the correspondence between two ex-friends during baseball season. Janet is furious that Richard refused to let her play on the baseball team because she is a girl. Throughout the season, their interactions become increasingly hostile and ridiculous. Eventually, Janet successfully negotiates positions for herself and other girls on the team. This text will make your students chuckle and also prompt them to reflect on gender equality.
“Seventh Grade” by Gary Soto (6th Grade)
This hilarious story perfectly captures the feeling of a first crush. Victor is starting seventh grade and is determined to get Teresa to notice him. He attempts to impress Teresa in French class by speaking fake French. Later, though, things get complicated when Teresa asks Victor to tutor her. This sweet text will resonate with middle school students who are navigating the sometimes awkward parts of growing up.
“The Night the Ghost Got In” by James Thurber (6th Grade)
In this amusing short story, a boy believes he hears a ghost walking around the house. The boy’s mother also hears footsteps, which she assumes are burglars. The misunderstanding spirals out of control and ends up involving the entire family, neighbors, and the police. This text provides a great opportunity for students to analyze how the author uses humor to convey an important life lesson.
“Us and Them” by David Sedaris (7th Grade)
In this essay, David is surprised to learn that his neighbors, the Tomkeys, do not have a TV in their house. Curious, David spies on his “unusual” neighbors, judging their strange ways. Over the course of the story, David’s feelings and actions become more exaggeratedly selfish and judgemental. This text will make your students laugh out loud but also reflect on how judging brings out the worst in people.
“The Three Century Woman” by Richard Peck (7th Grade)
In this lighthearted story, Megan’s Great-grandma has lived during three centuries, and a cast of reporters are dying to interview her. When the reporters seem disinterested about Great-grandma’s present life, she tells them wild, made-up stories about scary disasters in the past. Your seventh graders will completely relate when Great-grandma says that being a teenager was actually the scariest time of her life!
“They’re Made Out of Meat” by Terry Bisson (8th Grade)
In this wacky short story, two aliens abduct humans from Earth. The aliens are shocked that the humans are entirely made out of meat, which they consider a primitive life form. They decide that despite the humans’ accomplishments, “meat” is not worth their time and they will explore other parts of the universe for more sophisticated life instead. Have students dig into this story to analyze how the author uses humor to convey an important message about prejudice and assumptions.
“The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol (9th Grade)
In this short story, Major Kovaloff is known for chasing women and climbing the social ladder. Much to his surprise, he wakes up one morning to find that his nose has disappeared! The absence of his nose causes Kovaloff great distress, but when his nose returns, he goes back to his old ways. This classic short story provides students with a great opportunity to analyze how the author uses satire to critique vanity.
“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift (12th Grade)
In this well-known satire, Jonathan Swift proposes an outrageous solution designed to highlight the government and upper class’s lack of concern for people living in poverty. Swift suggests that impoverished Irish parents should sell their children to be eaten by wealthy English landowners. He goes on to detail the social and economic benefits of this unconventional transaction. This classic text provides students with a great opportunity to analyze how an author’s tone helps convey their message.
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