Short Stories for Reading


Существует множество коротких рассказов, с которыми мы тысячу раз сталкивались, читали детям в виде аудирования или задавали для чтения и помним их сами почти наизусть. А книжку или распечатку утеряли. Да и не очень они нам интересны: избиты, зачитаны. Но для детей не избиты. Поэтому посвятим одну рубрику на блоге коротким рассказам для учащихся.  Если вы помните  сборник или авторов рассказов, которые помещены в этой статье — напишите, пожалуйста, чтобы можно было сослаться на источник.


There was a time when drinking tea was almost unknown in European countries; many people had never even heard of tea. This anecdote is about an old woman and her son, who lived before tea-drinking became popular in England.

He was a sea captain, and every time he returned from a far-away country, he brought his mother a gift. He tried to bring something unusual, that she could show to her friends.

Once the young man came back from India with a box of tea for his mother. She didn’t know anything about tea, but she was proud of her son, and she invited all her friends to come and try what he had brought her. When her son came into the room, he saw cakes and fruit and jam on the table, and a big plate full of brown tea-leaves. His mother and her friends were sitting round the table, eating the leaves with butter and salt. Though they all smiled, it was clear that they didn’t enjoy eating the leaves.

«Where is the tea, Mother?» the captain asked.

His mother showed him the plate in the middle of the table.
«We are having tea for lunch», she said.

«No, no, those are only the tea-leaves», said the cap­tain. «Where is the water?»
«The water!» his mother said. «I threw the water away, of course!»


An Englishman who was in France wanted to go back to England by sea. But he had very little money. He had so little money that he could pay only for the ticket. As he knew that the trip would last only two days, he decided not to eat during these days.

As he took a ticket and got on the ship the next morning he tried not to hear the bell for breakfast. When dinner time came, he was very hungry; but he didn’t go to the dining-room. In the evening he was still more hungry, but when the waiter came to invite him to have supper, the Englishman said that he was ill.

The next day the Englishman was half-dead and couldn’t stand the hunger any longer.

«I shall go and eat even if they kick me out into the sea», said he to himself.

So he went to the ship dining-room and had his dinner.

In the evening he had supper but was very much afraid of his future because he didn’t pay for the meals.
At last he addressed the waiter and said: «Bring me the bill, please».

«What bill?» asked the waiter.

«For the supper and dinner I had in your dining-room».

«Don’t trouble, Sir. You paid for your meals when you bought the ticket».


One day a well-known singer was invited to the house of a rich lady to sing to her guests at a dinner-party. But instead of inviting the singer to dine with her guests, the lady ordered dinner for him in the servants’ room. The singer said nothing. He dined well and after dinner said to the servants: «Now, my good friends, I am going to sing to you».

The servants were very much surprised but said they were awfully glad to have a chance to hear the great singer. He sang a good many beautiful songs and the servants enjoyed listening to him.

Later the lady sent one of her servants to bring the singer up to the drawing-room, where all her guests were waiting for him.

«But I cannot sing twice in one evening, Madam», said the singer to the lady when she met him at the door leading into the drawing-room.

«What do you mean?» asked the lady.

«I mean I have already sung for about an hour to your servants, Madam», answered the singer, «it was a pity you were not there, for I always sing to the people with whom I dine». And with these words he left the house.


It was a week-end in summer and all the down trains were overcrowded. An old man was walking along the platform, looking for a vacant seat. Suddenly he saw one in a non-smoker. The old man got in. A small bag was lying on the seat and a well-dressed gentleman was sitting beside it.

«Is this seat vacant?» asked the old man. «No, it is occupied by a man who has gone to buy a newspaper. He will soon come».

«Well», said the old man, «I’ll sit here until your man comes back». Ten minutes passed.

«There is only one minute left before the train starts. Your man will miss the train if he doesn’t hurry», said the old man.
The train started.

«Your man has missed the train», said the old man, «but let him not lose his bag».

With these words he took the bag and was about to throw it out of the window.

The well-dressed gentleman jumped up and cried out: «Don’t! It’s my bag».


A nervous man, who lived in one of suburbs of a big town in England, was walking home from the railway station. The road was dark and lonely. Suddenly he heard footsteps approaching him from behind and thought he was being followed. He walked quickly. The footsteps continued to follow. The man started running. The footsteps still followed him. The man jumped over a wall and, running into an old cemetery, threw himself on the grass near one of the graves.

«If he comes here», he thought, «there will be no doubt he wants to rob me».

The man behind was following. He also got over the wall and came up to the grave. The nervous man stood up and asked:

«What do you want? Why are you following me?»

«I say», answered the other man, «do you always go home like this?
Or are you having some special sort of jumping, exercises tonight?
I am going to Mr. Ro­bertson’s and the man I at the railway station told me to follow you, as you lived next door. Excuse my asking you, but will you have some more gymnastics or will you go straight home?»


Three men were spending their holiday in New York. They were living in a hotel which had forty-five floors and their room was on the last floor.

Returning to the hotel late one night, they were told by the lift man: «I am very sorry, but the lifts in our hotel aren’t running. They stop working at twelve o’clock. You must walk up to your room».

«We are still young», one of the men said. «I suppose we, can climb up to the forty-fifth floor». So the men took off their coats and put them in the coat-room. As they were walking past the tenth floor one of the men said: «I am becoming a little tired. I have an idea how to make the climb easier. I shall tell happy or funny stories the next five floors: then Bill will sing songs the next fifteen floors, and Tom will tell sad stories the last fifteen floors».

They continued climbing, and soon all of them were feeling very tired. But they did not want to show to each other that they were tired, so the first man told happy stories, and jokes and the second sang happy songs. When they arrived at the thirtieth floor, the first man said: «Now, Tom, you can begin telling sad stories».

«Yes», Tom said, «I must tell you a very sad story. The key to our room is lying in my coat pocket, in the coat-room!»


One day, some Americans were having dinner at a hotel in London. When the fish was put on the table, a young man said: «Let’s examine the fish carefully. Perhaps we’ll find a diamond in it». Everybody began to laugh, but an old man said quietly: «Yes, I’m sure we have all heard such stories. Let me tell you what happened to me once».

«When I was a young man», he began, «I worked for a big company in New York: and I was sent to England to do some work there. I was in love with a beautiful girl, and before I left for England, we decided that we would be married when I returned home.»

I stayed in England for two months. I sent letters or postcards to the girl almost every day, but after the first two weeks I didn’t receive any answers. But I didn’t think anything was the matter, and before I left for home, I bought a beautiful diamond ring for her.

On the ship one morning, a telegram was brought to me. It was from a friend in New York, who told me that the girl had changed her mind and was going to be married to another man. I was so angry that I threw the diamond ring into the sea. My friend came to the port to meet me, and he invited me to dinner. When we were sitting down at the table and I was eating fish, I suddenly felt something hard in my mouth. What do you think it was?

«The diamond!» all the Americans cried.
«No», the old man answered. «It was a fish bone».


There was a king who thought that he could paint very well. His pictures were bad, but the people to whom he showed them were afraid of the king. They all said that they liked his pictures very much.

One day the king showed his pictures to a great painter who lived in his country and asked:

«I want to know what you think of my pictures. Do you like them? Am I a good painter or not?»

The painter looked at the king’s pictures and said:

«My king, I think that your pictures are bad, and that you will never be a good painter.»

The king got very angry and sent the painter to prison.

After two years the king wanted to see the painter again.
«I was angry with you», he said, «because you did not like my pictures. Now forget all about it. You are a free man again and I am your friend.»

For many hours the king talked with the painter, and even asked him to dine. After dinner the king showed his pictures to the painter and asked: «Well, how do you like them now?»

The painter did not answer anything. He turned to the soldier who was standing near him and said:

«Take me back to prison.»


There is probably no one among book-lovers who has not heard of Sherlock Holmes, the skilful and clever detective in the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sherlock Holmes’s method of analysing the most difficult problems was to notice the smallest facts, even if they seemed unimportant. His method never failed; the criminal always had to give up, and to become the prisoner of the great detective.

Conan Doyle once arrived in Paris, after spending a month in the south of France. There was a long row of cabs outside the gate of the railway station. Conan Doyle got into the first cab and ordered the driver to take him to a good hotel. The driver was silent all the way to the hotel, but when Conan Doyle paid him, he said, «Thank you, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle».

«How do you know who I am?» Conan Doyle asked in the greatest surprise.

«I have never seen you before», the man answered, «so I can’t pretend that I recognized you. But I read in the newspapers that you were expected in Paris after your vacation in the south of France. The train you arrived on came from the south of France.
I could tell from your clothes, especially your hat, and also from the strange way you pronounce French words that you were English. These facts helped me to guess that you were probably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle».

«Fine work! Wonderful!» Conan Doyle cried. «You analysed the facts quite correctly. It’s a pity you aren’t a detective!»

«Of course», the driver added, «your name is on both your travelling bags. I can’t pretend that that fact didn’t help».


Robert Burns (1759—1796) is Scotland’s national poet and January 25 — the day of his birth — is always cele­brated in his country and all over the world, with great excitment. The celebrations are going on in every big city and in a small village pub, in every remote cottage with workers and farmers dressed in kilts or in ordinary working clothes.

The love for Burns is indeed a unique phenomenon. Most nations consider political or military men as their national heroes. But Scotland, though she honours the memory of her two great national liberators, William Wallace and Robert Bruce, has adopted a poet as her true hero. Why is it so? I think because Burns’ poetry was very much consonant to people’s aspirations. It was closely connected with the national struggle of the Scot­tish people for their liberation from English oppression. Burns considered his literary work as his patriotic duty.

Burns wrote many poems in English, but his best verses are written in the dialect of his own country, Ay-shire. His best poems are The Jolly Beggars, Halloween, The Cotter’s Saturday Night, Holy Willie’s Prayer, To a Mouse, The Two Dogs and others.

Burns travelled a lot about Scotland collecting popular folk songs. Many of his own lyrical poems were put to music. All in all he contributed 2000 songs to the Scots Musical Museum. So Robert Burns is considered to be the creator of the Scottish song. His songs are memorable for extraordinary truthfulness passion and lovely melody. They reflect the people’s soul and national character. The Poet’s song Oh, My Love is Like a Red Red Rose is one of the most loved lyrical songs. Many of songs he devoted to his wife, the woman who had been the great love of all his life and the in spirator of his numerous verses.

Burns’ songs are the soul of music and it is not sur­prising that Beethoven, Schuman, Mendelssohn and others compose music to the poet’s verses. Russian composers have also set many of Burns’ verses to music. The best known cycle to Burns’ songs have been successfully writ­ten by Dmitri Shostakovich, Nikolai Myaskovsky, Juri Levitin, Mark Milman, Victor Oransky and a number of other composers. All songs are based on Marshak’s trans­lations which are considered to be the best translations of Burns’ poetry into Russian


If people carefully observe nature it can tell them many interesting and useful things.

Do you know that thanks to observing nature you can forecast weather? «How?» you may ask.

By watching birds and animals, insects and flowers.    It is known that   some  insects become more  troublesome before a change in the weather.  Flies and mosquitoes, for example, begin to hum and bite before the rain. Big blue-black beetles fly only on evenings before nice weather.

You should know that the smell of flowers in the gar­dens and in the parks is very strong before it rains. Flowers have much sweet nectar before rain and the nectar is good food for insects. So if you see insects flying over flowers in large numbers you should know that it may rain soon.

Birds and animals also help to forecast weather. Birds fly lower than usual before it rains. If you happen to see a bird hiding its head under its wing, it means that soon it will become colder.

Even your cat can tell you what the weather will be like. The cat washing behind the ears is telling you about the coming rain. Look at the sky and it will tell you about the weather. A red evening sky tells of good weather the next day, to say nothing about a little yellow or green sky. A grey sunrise gives promise of a good day too. If you want to fore­cast weather, you must know something about winds too.

The South wind brings wet weather,
The North wind is wet and cold together,
The West wind always brings us rain,
The East wind blows it back again.
Study nature, observe it and you’ll understand that it needs your love and protection.


Every day in one of the streets of Vienna you could see a blind man playing the violin. His dog sat near him with a cap in his mouth. People, who were passing them, dropped coins into the cap.

One day, when the weather was very cold, the man was playing for a long time, but nobody wanted to give him anything. The poor man thought that he would have to go to bed without supper. He was so tired and so weak that he stopped playing.

At that moment a young man came uр to him and asked him why he stopped playing. The blind man said he had played for two hours but nobodyr had given him anything. «Give me your violin. I shall help you», said the man. And with these words he began to play. He played so well that people began to gather and soon there was a big crowd. Everybody was eager to listen to the fine music and to thank the young man for the pleasure.

Soon the cap was full of money.
«I don’t know how to thank you», said the blind man. «Who are you?»

«I am Paganini», was the answer.


A rich American went to Paris and bought a very strange picture painted by a fashionable modern artist. The American thought the picture was very fine because he had paid a lot of money for it. But when he came to his hotel and wanted to hang the picture up on the wall, he could not tell which was the top and which the bottom of the picture. The American turned the picture this way and that, but still could not decide which was the top and which was the bottom.

So he thought of a plan. He hung the painting in the dining-room and invited the artist to dinner. When the artist came, the American said nothing to him about the picture.

When the artist began to eat his soup, he looked at the picture many times. When he began to eat his fish, he put on his glasses and looked at the picture again. Before he began to eat his fruit, he got up and walked over to the picture to look at it more closely. At last when they began to drink their coffee, he understood that the picture was upside down.

«Why, my friend», he said, «my picture is hung upside down».
«Oh, is it?» said the American. «Why didn’t you tell me so at once?»
«Well, you see, I was not sure myself at first», said the artist.


Murillo was a great painter in Spain. He painted beau­tiful pictures and he had many students.

Once he came to his studio and found a very beautiful picture there. He asked his students who had painted that picture but nobody answered. Then he asked his slave Sebastian if he had seen somebody in the studio the night before. The slave did not answer. When the night came and everybody went away Sebastian began to paint. He did not think of the time. Suddenly he heard a noise behind him. When he turned round he saw Murillo and his students watch him quietly.

«Sebastian», cried Murillo, «you are a very good painter. How did you learn to paint?»

«You gave lessons to your students, and I heard them», answered the slave. Murillo understood that the slave was a very gifted painter, so he gave him freedom and be­gan to work with his «slave» who was not a slave any longer.


There was a time when the people of Greece were not united but instead there were several states each of which had its own ruler.

Some of the people in the southern part of the country were called Spartans and they were famous for their simple habits and their bravery.

The name of their land was Laconia, so they were sometimes called Lacons.

One of the strange rules which the Spartans had was that they should speak briefly and never use more words than were needed.

A short answer is often called laconic that is such an answer as a Lacon would give.

There was in the Northern part of Greece a land called Macedonia. This land was at one time ruled by a king named Philip. Philip of Macedonia wanted to become master of all Greece. So he raised a great army and made war upon the other states, until nearly all of them were forced to call him their king. Then he sent a letter to the Spartans in Laconia and said: «If I go down into your country, I will level your great city to the ground.»

In a few days an answer was brought back to him. When he opened the letter he found only one word written there.

That word was «If».


The young man was going to marry a beautiful girl.

One day the girl said to him that the next day she would celebrate her birthday and invited him to her birthday party. The young man was eager to make her a present, so he went to a gift shop. There he saw many beautiful things. Of all the things he particularly liked the vases. But they were very expensive, and as he had very little money he had to leave the shop without buying anything.

Walking to the door he suddenly heard a noise: one of the vases fell on the floor and broke two pieces. A brilliant idea came to his mind. He came up to the counter and asked the salesman to wrap up the broken vase he wanted to buy.

The salesman got a little surprised but did what the young man had asked him to do.

The young man took the parcel and went straight to the girl’s place. By the time he entered the room the guests had already gathered. Everybody was enjoying the party.

Some of the people were dancing, others were talking, joking and laughing. Saying «Many happy returns of the day», the young man told the girl that he had bought a small present for her. With these words he began to unwrap the parcel.

Suddenly he got pale and said. «I am afraid, I have broken it. There were so many people in the bus…» But when he unwrapped the parcel, he saw that the salesman had wrapped up each piece of the vase separately.


Once a man went to a shop and bought a pair of trousers. When he came home, he put the trousers on. Then he saw that they were too long for him.

So he went to his wife and said:

«Please make my trousers shorter, they are too long for me, I cannot put them on.»

But the wife said: «I have no time now. I must wash the plates. It is late now, I shall do it tomorrow.»

The man went to his daughter and asked her:

«Can you make my trousers shorter? I cannot put them on.»

«No, I cannot,» said the daughter. «I must do my les­sons now. I shall do it tomorrow».
The man went to his sister, but she could not help him. She said: «I must make my dress now. I shall do it tomorrow».
So the man went to bed and left his new trousers on a chair near his bed.

His wife washed all the plates, came into the room, took the trousers, made them shorter and put them back on the chair. When his daughter did her lessons, she came into his room, took the trousers and made them shorter. Late in the evening his sister came too and made the trousers shorter.

The man got up at 7 o’clock in the morning. His wife told him, «I have made your trousers shorter; you can put them on». But when the man put them on, he saw that they were too short for him and he could not wear them.


Somebody once asked Mark Twain whether he could remember the first money he ever earned. «I remember quite well», the famous writer answered.
«It happened at school. Schoolboys in those days had very little respect for their teachers and even less for their desks. The boys used pens and pencils and even knives to draw stars and faces, or to write their names on their desks.
At last, the school principal said: «The next time anybody does such a thing, he will have to pay five dollars, or he will receive a beating in front of the whole school».

«Soon after that, I had to go to my father and ask him to give me five dollars. I was honest enough to explain that I could agree to receive a beating instead, but he said: «No, I can’t allow you to connect our name with such things. So I’ll pay the five dollars. But you must suffer for what you have done. I’ll give you the beating here, at home».

«So he beat me, and then gave me the five dollars to take to school. But I decided that the beating didn’t hurt so much, and another beating at school wouldn’t be worse.
So I told them to give me a beating in front of the whole school, and I kept the five dollars. And that was the first money I ever earned».


One of Mark Twain’s hobbies was fishing. He went fishing whenever he had a chance, even in the closed season, when fishing was not allowed anywhere in lakes and rivers. Like all fishermen, he sometimes invented stories about the number of fish he caught.

One hot day during the closed season, Mark Twain was fishing as usual, under a low bridge. A man who was walking across the bridge happened to notice Mark Twain and began to watch him. At last he asked: «Have you. caught many fish?»

«Not yet», Mark Twain answered. «I have only just begun. But yesterday I caught thirty great big fish here».
«You were very lucky», the man said. «Do you know who I am?»

«No», Mark Twain said. «I don’t think I ever happened to meet you before».

«I’m the fishing inspector in this place. Do you know that this is the closed season?»

Mark Twain thought quickly. He understood how foolish he had been. «Do you know who I am?» he asked aloud.

«No, of course not», answered the inspector.» «I am the biggest liar on the Mississippi», Mark Twain told him.


Robin Hood was a legendary hero who was well known and loved by the poor people of England. He lived in a forest far from the towns, and when the poor were oppressed by the rich, he helped them by giving them food and shelter. The sheriffs tried to arrest him but they did not succeed in doing so.

Once the sheriff of N. decided to organize a shooting contest in order to catch him because he knew Robin Hood to be a very good shot and was sure that he would take part in the contest by all means. The prize was a golden arrow.

On learning about the forthcoming contest Robin Hood gathered his men and discussed whether they should take part in it. Finally it was decided that although the risk of participating in the contest was great, they should all go, Robin Hood among them.

The day of the contest was fine and clear. The town was decorated with flags, and field for the contest was full of people. The sheriff looked for Robin Hood and his men everywhere. He knew that they were always dressed in green. To his disappointment, however, he could not find anybody who looked like them. The contest was won by a fellow dressed in red, who had come from a village with a whole company of young men.

After receiving the prize the fellow left the town, and nobody ever thought that it was Robin Hood. While leaving the town Robin Hood shot an arrow through the sheriff’s open window. There was a paper attached to it with the following words: «Robin Hood thanks the sheriff for the Golden Arrow.»

Источник: Spoken English. Интенсивный курс английской разговорной речи
Год выпуска: 1991 Автор: Ханникова Л. Н.

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