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Resources: awards, clubs. etc. > Short Stories for Children and Teenagers: Where Are They?

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message 1: by Leila (new)

Leila (leila_rasheed) I have a selfish reason in asking this - myself and a couple of other authors are thinking of starting a project based around children's short stories (still in planning stages so I won't say more for now), and I'm trying to research.

In Britain at least, the market for children's short stories has completely dried up. We have no short story magazines that I know of, and are publishing hardly any collections of original short stories for children, whether single or multiple author. I'm guessing that in the USA there are still some short story magazines, either in print or online, and presumably more collections being published, since the book market in the USA is bigger. But still, didn't there used to be more children's short stories around? I remember the Joan Aiken collections, which I loved so much (A Small Pinch of Weather, A Necklace of Raindrops, etc.)
Where have they all gone, and why? We keep being told that children have shorter attention spans these days - wouldn't short stories therefore be more in demand, not less?

message 2: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 13, 2010 06:42AM) (new)

Manybooks | 6899 comments Mod
I don't know much about short stories marketed particularly for children, but for teenage (and adult) readers who enjoy the work of L.M. Montgomery, I would like to recommend her short stories:

Chronicles of Avonlea

Further Chronicles of Avonlea

The Road to Yesterday

The Blythes Are Quoted (This is "The Road to Yesterday" expanded to include a narrative frame and poetry. The stories are also more expanded, this was the original and it only was first published last year, "The Road to Yesterday" was a shortened version which came out in 1974, I think)

The Doctor's Sweetheart

Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories

Akin to Anne: Tales of Other Orphans

Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea

Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side

After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed

Against the Odds: Tales of Achievement

At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales

Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence

I'm actually not trying to say that children will not like these short stories, but unlike the Anne of Green Gables series, some of the short stories in these books do feature rather heavy themes.

message 3: by Bill (new)

Bill (reedye) Great idea Leila. As far as I know there are no UK markets for children's or teen/ya short stories. You'd think there would be quite a few but I've never found any.

message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill (reedye) Mmm, I obviously read this completely differently to everybody else!

message 5: by Christine (new)

Christine | 36 comments From a librarian perspective, part of the reason they don't get read as much is because they are shelved in the non-fiction section of the library, assuming that fiction is separated (which it is in most schools and public libraries.) In my district many of the elementary school librarians change them to FIC and they then are more widely circulated.

message 6: by Bill (new)

Bill (reedye) We are a very, very small market. The adult fiction magazine market is in a constant stuggle for survival. I think it would be impossible for a children's fiction title to exist at all, sad as I think that is. One of our best publishers tried a comic which was pretty good but it didn't last a year. I don't think any of those Datlow/Windling or November titles, all of which I would call essential, are published here.

message 7: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 13, 2010 08:40AM) (new)

Manybooks | 6899 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "I too greatly enjoy L.M. Montgomery's short story collections, with the notable exception of her western stories, which I find appallingly racist. I'm afraid I still haven't gotten over the shock o..."

I have only ever read "Tannis of the Flats" once, and whenever I reread Further Chronicles of Avonlea, I always leave it out. Quite a few of Montgomery's Western stories are racist, but that one takes the cake.

message 8: by Leila (new)

Leila (leila_rasheed) Thanks for all these suggestions, and the really interesting comments.
I agree, Chandra, there doesn't seem any reason for children not to enjoy short stories. Now and then I hear people say 'oh, children don't like them because they can't lose themselves in a short story'. But that doesn't make any sense to me - short stories are complete in themselves, and you get a quicker burst of enjoyment, which seems to make up for not having the immersive experience of a longer novel.

I do think that the short stories for children that are still published tend to be aimed at younger children, at ages 7 - 9 rather than 9 - 13. And they tend (this may be a huge generalisation and if so I'd love to be put right!) to be more old-fashioned perhaps, compared to novels for the same age group. I'd love to work out a way of writing really contemporary short stories, that would appeal to readers of Alex Rider or Lemony Snicket.

Myths and fairy tales are still going strong in the UK (as are older novels based on them). But what seems to be missing is original, contemporary short stories for older children.
Cricket magazine - yes, I've heard of this but we can't get it in the UK (I mean, presumably one can subscribe, but it's not in the libraries). That's the kind of thing we just do not have over here, all the children's magazines seem to be product placement for Mattel or Disney or something.

And Bill - are you thinking of The DFC? That was such a pity, it should have done well. But there was this weird thing where you had to be a school or an institution to buy it? I tried to subscribe and I couldn't! Plus it coincided with the financial crisis - a mixture of bad planning and bad luck, I'd say.

Really good to read your responses - I am off to look up some of those collections now!

message 9: by Bill (new)

Bill (reedye) Leila wrote: "And Bill - are you thinking of The DFC? "

Yes Leila. I was actually expecting a little more from it than I got. Didn't know about those conditions though. I subscribed to it OK.
Are you looking for recommendations? I can add a few...

message 10: by Leila (new)

Leila (leila_rasheed) Yes, if anyone has any recommendations of contemporary collections or magazines of short stories for older children (or younger, or teens in fact), I'd love to have them. By contemporary, I mean preferably in the last 10 years if possible, if you happen to know the date of publication.
BunWat, I don't know. I recently saw this: which is three YA authors sharing their short stories with an audience. This is the kind of thing I'd think could work well (and has, for them - a collection of the stories is being published in conventional print).

message 11: by Leila (new)

Leila (leila_rasheed) This is already lots more than we have in the UK... Thanks! What are the Datlow/Winding and November anthologies?

message 12: by Leila (new)

Leila (leila_rasheed) Ah right, sorry, I'm doing a lot of running around today and clearly not concentrating! I see the links now.

message 13: by Bill (new)

Bill (reedye) I'll add a few younger ones. There was a whole series from Oxford of short shorts. If you search Amazon for Louise Cooper Short and Scary! they should all come up.
There's WOW! 366: Speedy Stories in just 366 Words from Scholastic.
Kids' Night In(Warchild Anthology)from HarperCollins.
Midnight Feast(Warchild Anthology)from HarperCollins.
Free?: Stories Celebrating Human Rights(Amnesty Anthology)from Walker.
War: Stories of Conflict, Edited by Michael Morpurgo from Macmillan.
Shining on (Teen Cancer Trust)from Piccadilly Press.
Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann (titled Wizards in the US)from Bloomsbury.
There's a few.
All the charity titles make you think there is a market don't they!
If you're planning a 'Merry Sisters' type site I would suggest that is a very good idea.

message 14: by Christine (last edited Sep 13, 2010 03:40PM) (new)

Christine | 36 comments Examples of Dewy classifications for short story collections:

808.8 STI Nightmare Hour Time for Terror by R.L. Stine Nightmare hour by R.L. Stine

398.25 SCH Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 25th Anniversary Edition Collected from American Folklore (Scary Stories) by Alvin Schwartz Scary stories to tell in the dark collected from American folklore by Alvin Schwartz

820 BEW Beware! R.L. Stine Picks His Favorite Scary Stories by R.L. Stine Beware! : R.L. Stine picks his favorite scary stories [compiled by R.L. Stine].

None of these are shelved under a separate section of Fiction. Although fiction can be classified under the 800's (literature), most libraries separate fiction from the larger collection under FIC for Fiction. 808 Rhetoric & collections of literature is the classification for most anthologies.398 Folklore would contain stories that are from folklore and 820 English & Old English literatures

Unless the librarian specifically pulls them and changes this, the supplier (such as Follett, Perma-bound) will catalog them separately.

message 15: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6163 comments Mod
Anthologies are different than short story collections. In my local library, too, anthologies are shelved in non-fiction, which means a child or teen has to actually realize that to find them. And most of the ones in that section are fairy-tales around the world kinda thing, which probably isn't really widely appealing.

Short story collections by a single author are easy enough to find by author - if the author has created such. I recall a collection by Avi and Vivian Vande Velde's Curses, Inc and The Rumpelstiltskin Problem.

I'd love to see more anthologies published and promoted somehow in the fiction section. I do suspect that modern children would like them if they were offered effectively.

message 16: by Christine (last edited Sep 13, 2010 04:55PM) (new)

Christine | 36 comments The R. L. Sine is his favorite stories by other authors.

I am in the process of reclassifying a few books because they are overlooked where they are. As a school librarian, I think its all about the kids. My focus is not to be a dewey decimal perfectionist, but to help students find books they will be excited to read. Once they know short stories exist, they do get checked out. In fact, I have students requesting more of the same.

message 17: by Christine (new)

Christine | 36 comments I love Vande Velde. I've got to check those out!

message 18: by Bill (last edited Sep 13, 2010 04:09PM) (new)

Bill (reedye) Christine wrote: "I love Vande Velde."

Me too Christine. There's a new book out next month. Hurray!
Cloaked in Red

I have no idea what your other post is about but I sure hope libraries don't run that way here! Do they use this system, UK librarians?
And is it as nightmarish in practice as it sounds Christine?

message 19: by Cheryl, Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 6163 comments Mod
Thank you Christine for helping 'your' children find the collections!

message 20: by Christine (last edited Sep 13, 2010 04:54PM) (new)

Christine | 36 comments It isn't necessarily nightmarish. I think for a large public library it probably is the best way to deal with it all. I work with kids who are between the ages of 11 and 14 in a relatively small school. I have more flexibility due to lower volumes of books and customers. I also have a great deal of autonomy which means ultimately I get to put the books where I think the kids will look for them, which for short stories, isn't in the non-fiction stack. Once you start moving things, though, you have to have a clear strategy for where you draw the line.

message 21: by Leila (new)

Leila (leila_rasheed) Thanks so much for these suggestions. yes, it is a kind of Merry sisters site, but for younger readers (9 - 13). And yes, charity collections are the notable exception! I guess because it is easier for authors to write short stories at short notice, and less work for them to do for free.
I have also see short stories shelved as non-fiction, but that was in university libraries. I don't know where public libraries shelve them in the UK - I shall ask my local!

message 22: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 192 comments Guys Read: Funny Business. Seems to be a collection of short stories. It looks promising.

message 23: by Leila (new)

Leila (leila_rasheed) Thanks! I'll look them up.

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