Sandra Farag, MLS, Manager, Collection Development Youth Materials
Short story collections are amazing little nuggets of literature. They are bite-sized reading for those who don’t have time to read a full-length novel. They are great for reluctant readers who feel that finishing a novel is an insurmountable task. Short story collections can give the reader who can’t get enough of their favorite series a more in-depth look, while offering those who haven’t immersed themselves into a series an introductory peek into what some of their peers are reading. Teens who may want to try out a new genre can dip their toes into the pool of short stories. For those avid readers, short story collections can sometimes give them all their favorite authors in one book! No matter the reader, there is a short story collection available.
I am thrilled to say that the past few years have seen an increase in the number of short story collections being published for teens. Stories that feature diverse and multicultural characters, stories that celebrate the #ownvoices movement, stories that focus on the LGBTQIA+ experience, and stories that emphasize female empowerment are just a few of the plethora of titles that are available for your teens. With so many choices, you may be wondering where to begin. Let’s explore some of the recent titles published.
#Ownvoices isn’t just a buzzword. It is a fierce movement that is knocking down walls and crashing through ceilings. Marginalized authors are now being heard, and it is one of the ways teens who were once invisible can now see themselves represented in a piece of literature. Some #ownvoices short story collections are Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens by Marieke Nijkamp, which features 13 realistic, fantasy, and science fiction stories where disabled teens are the protagonists. Another is Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi Zoboi (Hardcover and Paperback ), which provides an unflinching look at the African American experience. For a change of pace, check out A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh (Hardcover and Paperback ), which showcases 15 authors and their retellings of myths and legends from several Asian countries.
Teen activism and empowerment is another strong theme within YA literature. Teens looking for inspiration can try Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance by Bethany Morrow, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe, or The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls by Jessica Spotswood (Hardcover) and (Paperback). For your teens interested in the LGBTQIA+ experience, hand them All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell. All Out goes as far back as the 1300s and all the way through present day, providing teens with fictional stories featuring various LGBTQIA+ characters. Each title offers a unique perspective of being true to oneself and standing up for what is right, even if it isn’t easy.
Now we know that not every teen is not ready to fight for a cause or deep-dive into some of these weighty topics. For those teens, there is some great genre fiction that may interest them. For your romance lovers, check out Three Sides of a Heart: Stories about Love Triangles by Natalie C. Parker (Hardcover ) and (Paperback ), Meet Cute by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Hardcover) and (Paperback ) and Color Outside the Lines: Stories about Love, edited by Sangu Mandanna, which are multi-genre short stories with diverse characters.
For something a little darker, there is Life is Short and then You Die: Mystery Writers of America Presents First Encounters with Murder by Kelley Armstrong (Hardcover) and (Paperback), and His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allan Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined by Dahlia Adler. Everyone loves a character that has a bit of a bad side, and we all know that villains always seem to be enjoying themselves the most. For a bit of extra fun, you can give your teens Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy by Amerie (Hardcover) and (Paperback ).
For your most enthusiastic readers who can’t get enough of their favorite authors, steer them toward these titles that are companions to the author’s previous novels: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi, Night Flights: A Mortal Engines Collection by Phillip Reeve, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo (Hardcover and Paperback) Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare (Hardcover) and (Paperback ), and 19 Love Songs by David Levithan. Each of these titles gives the reader another glimpse into the worlds they know and love.
These titles are just the tip of the iceberg of all the great new short story collections available to teens. For some additional suggestions, make sure you check out the Teen Short Story Collections ipage list. The next time you have a teen wondering what to read next, or worse, a teen that doesn’t want to read at all, try giving them one of these titles, and see if you can make a reader out of them yet!