Once upon a time ... you were sitting at home on Friday night with no plans, an empty Netflix queue and a few bored and mischievous teenagers. Instead of trekking to the nearest Redbox for some drab entertainment, spending a small fortune on 30 minutes of miniature golf, or two hours in a crowded movie theater, why not take things to a more literary level?
After all, reading together as a family provides more benefits than killing time on a Friday night; according to the National Education Association, children who do more reading at home are better readers and even score better on standardized math tests.
But if your library isn’t exactly stocked with new material, don’t despair; interesting and wildly entertaining short stories that appeal to both you and your teenage kids are just a few clicks away. Check out some that are sure to become family favorites.
“Stay for the Pie”
There’s nothing like sitting around a fire pit or cozying up in the family room to read a subtly suspenseful thriller together. This smartly written, intriguing story is the perfect centerpiece for just an evening. You’ll meet Elsa Bjerkstad, who happens to receive a stranger in her small-town cafeteria the same night a murder is committed in the area. Elsa’s deliciously famous plum pie and the stranger’s dark secrets culminate in this snappy, clever and surprising narrative by Kelly Barnhill. The does story contains some references to drug use, so it may be unsuitable for younger teens. Read the full story here.
“My Father’s Robe”
Award-winning playwright Evan Guilford-Blake penned this touching story about time and family. Even if your family cannot relate to the pain of witnessing a family member struggling with health problems, you can sympathize with narrator Allen and his family as they take their mother to hospice care, knowing that this move signals the end of her mortal life. Allen’s memories of his mother and the simple relic of his father’s old robe will tug anyone’s heartstrings. Read the full story here.
“A Glass of Emeralds”
A chance meeting or seemingly insignificant event can often be the very thing that changes a life. In Edward McDermott’s “A Glass of Emeralds,” a sailor’s stormy night at sea is just such an occasion, as he happens upon a stranger adrift. But the stranger, who is mortally wounded, has a shocking tale to tell. Now the sailor has a decision to make — one that could lead him to wealth beyond his dreams, or straight into death. This story does contain one instance of profanity. Read the full story here.
“Right and Almost Right”
Any writer knows that creativity doesn’t flow without inspiration. That inspiration, as Conor Powers-Smith so deftly describes in this short story, can be both a blessing and a curse to the writer, who becomes its slave. Family members who are budding writers will be especially entranced by this beautifully written and captivating narrative. Read the full story here.
Captivity comes in many forms, as Dr. Conlon, a psychologist, and his patient, Roger, both realize through this smart, dialogue-heavy narrative by Eugene Schacht. As Roger recounts mysterious events of his past, Dr. Conlon struggles to make the pieces fit together, and in doing so learns a bit about himself and his own captivity to the past. Read the full story here.
To see more short stories or to submit an entry of your own, visit wisdomcriethwithout.com.