Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reader Recommendations: The Sniper

Are you studying short stories any time soon? Do you just like to read short stories? Let me recommend a great short story that students love. This story is great because it features great descriptions, great vocabulary words and dramatic irony.

The story is The Sniper by Liam O'Flaherty. The story was first published in 1923. My students are usually surprised to find out that they like such an "old" story. What do they like so much? It's a war story. It's a gritty, sad, surprising war story. It takes place during the Irish Civil War and follows a young IRA sniper as he waits up on a rooftop.

When we first begin the story, the students are their normal jittery selves. By the time an old woman is informing an Irish Free Stater tank on the location of our IRA sniper, the students are silent. If another student so much as coughs, the rest shoot him a glare to tell him not to interrupt Mrs. B's Story Time. By the end? At the end, they usually gasp. Some just sit still with their hands over their mouths. At one will mutter "That was a good story" while the majority of the students shake their heads in agreement.

Another great part of this story is the fact that students can make a ton of connections. It can be connected to the American Civil War, any war with guerrilla warfare, the current war in the middle east, gangs in America and any place where people must live in fear because of the choices of others.

Very few students dislike reading the story. There are students who say they don't like the story, but it's the end that they don't like. The end? The end can kind of get you the first time you read it.

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