NEW Short Stories on CommonLit for Middle School Students

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

Exciting reading passages have been added to CommonLit’s library for grades 5–8 from famous authors like Sandra Cisneros, Neil Gaiman, 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 — including five new Elementary and Middle school texts that were published in December.

Today, we are able to share eight new stories with you. If you are looking for new lessons to assign through CommonLit, here are some select passages from newly added texts in our library.

Luckiest Time of All” by Lucille Clifton (Grade 5)

Lucille Clifton was an African American poet, writer, and the Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1979 to 1985. In “The Luckiest Time of All,” a young girl named Tee listens to her great-grandmother tell a story about her youth.

This story within a story is a great way of introducing students to different types of narrative structure and point of view. Students can use the annotation tool to take notes and respond to the annotation task, which aligns to the short-response assessment question.

The Jacket” by Gary Soto (Grade 6)

Gary Soto is an American poet, novelist, and memoirist. His writing often reflects on his experiences growing up. In this passage, he talks about a jacket he received when he was in fifth grade.

If you’ve seen our previous blog post, you know that we here at CommonLit are big fans of Mr. Soto’s work. You can find many of his other stories, poems, and essays in our library. Simply type in “Gary Soto” in the search bar and click the search button.

Aha Moment” by Julia Alvarez (Grade 7)

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican American poet, novelist, and essayist. She is the author of the bestselling books How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies. In “Aha Moment,” Alvarez describes a frightening experience on an airplane and the importance of kindness in instances of fear.

If you are interested in assigning more passages by Julia Alvarez, you can find them in the CommonLit library or by clicking the Paired Texts tab: “Names/Nombres” and “Daughter of Invention”

The Ravine” by Graham Salisbury (Grade 7)

A ravine with a waterfall.
Untitled” by Seth Cottle is licensed under CC0.

Graham Salisbury is an American author. This short story takes place in Hawaii, where the author lived growing up. In “The Ravine,” a young man faces peer pressure to jump from a tall cliff into a ravine.

For students who may require some extra support, we recommend utilizing Guided Reading Mode. It’s an excellent tool for tracking student comprehension by dividing up the passage and asking questions about what they read in each section. For more information, check out this blog post.

"My Friend Lucy Who Smells Like Corn” by Sandra Cisneros (Grade 7)

Sandra Cisneros is an American writer and key figure in Chicana literature. Cisneros is the author of the bestselling novel The House on Mango Street. In this short story, the narrator talks about her friend Lucy.

Did you know that CommonLit offers book pairings? These are lists of supplemental texts that can be incorporated into the reading of a novel, with helpful instructions on when and how to pair the passage with the larger reading. Check out our pairing for The House on Mango Street.

Volar” by Judith Ortiz Cofer (Grade 7)

A woman with long hair jumping in front of a body of water.
Untitled” by Mohamed Nohassi is licensed under CC0.

Judith Ortiz Cofer was an American author of poetry, short stories, and young-adult fiction. In the passage “Volar,” Cofer discusses a childhood fantasy: the power of flight. This passage is short, a little bittersweet, and perfect for close-reading!

Ask students to consider what the ability to fly means for different people in the passage. What does it mean for the narrator and for her mother? To prompt classroom discussion, check out our Discussion Questions; you might also ask them to think about their favorite superheroes, what superpower they would choose, and why.

Click-Clack the Rattlebag” by Neil Gaiman (Grade 8)

Neil Gaiman is an English author whose work has received much acclaim, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker Awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. Many of his writings have been adapted into movies and television series.

“Click-Clack the Rattlebag” is a scary short story about a type of vampiric monster that is sure to give the reader goosebumps. This is a great passage for practicing the analysis of mood.

The Wife’s Story” by Ursula K. Le Guin (Grade 8)

A pack of wolves.
Wolf Pack on Rock Formation” by Thomas Bonometti is licensed under CC0.

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American novelist known for her works of speculative fiction. She received much acclaim, including multiple Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards, and was named a Living Legend by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2000.

In “The Wife’s Story,” the narrator — the unnamed wife alluded to in the title — recalls how she fell in love with her husband and the revelation of his transformation. This short story puts a spin on the classic werewolf story, featuring a twist ending that encourages a second read.

Next Steps

Providing access to high-quality literature makes up a large part of our mission. CommonLit is adding new content to the library all of the time!

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