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7 Scary Short Stories to Read on Halloween in Secondary ELA

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

A crowd of dirty zombie hands grasp upward into the night. Bold text says, "7 Scary Stories for Secondary ELA."

On Halloween, a suspenseful scary story is all it takes to captivate your middle and high students and get them invested in their reading. Here are seven spine-chilling scary short stories your secondary ELA students will love to read on Halloween.

Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

In “Lamb to the Slaughter,” poor Mary loses her husband after he is attacked at home. Will police ever find out who committed the crime? Will they ever find the murder weapon? All poor Mary can do is cook the murder weapon. I mean dinner. This story is perfect to discuss character motivation and irony.

This image shows pages of the short story unit for "The Most Dangerous Game." The pages include the story text with guided reading questions, writing prompts, a quiz, and a foreshadowing chart.

The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

In “The Most Dangerous Game,” students will be shocked when they realize what General Zaroff is hunting. He couldn't possibly hunt a guest, could he? This story works well for teaching mood, imagery, and descriptive language. Click here for a free story unit for “The Most Dangerous Game.”

The Landlady by Roald Dahl

In “The Landlady,” young Billy leaves home for work and stays at a nice boarding house. What could possibly go wrong while staying with a sweet old woman who loves taxidermy? Students love the twist in this story, and it’s a great story to use when discussing foreshadowing.

This image shows pages from the short story unit for "The Cask of Amontillado." It shows the story text with guided reading questions, a vocabulary page, an irony chart, and a creative task.

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” Montresor vows to get revenge, and poor Fortunato has no idea what's coming for him. Secondary students love revenge stories, and the end is always shocking. This short story is full of verbal and situational irony, and you can also use it to discuss unreliable narrators.

The image shows pages from the short story unit for "The Pedestrian." It shows story questions, a figurative language analysis page, a quiz, and a creative writing task.

The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury

In “The Pedestrian,” Leonard goes for an evening stroll, and students can’t believe what happens to him. I mean, what's wrong with going for a walk? This post apocalyptic story has beautiful imagery and descriptive language, and it lends itself well to discussions on mood.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Before reading “The Lottery,” students always see a lottery as a prize. They never see the twist coming. Skimming through the story after their first read, students will see foreshadowing throughout the entire story and wonder why they didn't catch on.

Pages from a "Three Skeleton Key" story unit are laid out on a desk. There's a foreshadowing chart, vocabulary page, suspense chart, and story questions. Some answers are filled in with red pen.

Three Skeleton Key by Georges-Gustave Toudouze

In the short story "Three Skeleton Key," three men take jobs working in a lighthouse on a small island with a bad reputation. Unexpected visitors turn their work into a nightmare. This is a great short story to teach suspense.

As you embark on Halloween reading with your middle and high school students, I hope these scary stories not only evoke shivers but also ignite a passion for reading and literary analysis. Happy Halloween, and may your classroom be filled with the thrill of spooky tales and unexpected twists!

Short Story Units

The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

The Landlady by Roald Dahl

Three Skeleton Key by Georges-Gustave Toudouze

Scary Story Bundle (3 Story Bundle)

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