I’ve long been intimidated by writing short stories, but in my first semester as an MFA student, I finally took the plunge and gave it a go. I was lucky enough to be in a short story-focused workshop at January residency, and it gave me an even greater appreciation for awesome short stories. In recent years, we’ve seen more and more fantastic and diverse YA short story anthologies published. Short story collections are able to feature a kaleidoscope of voices, styles, and perspectives. They can introduce you to new authors and genres. As you’ll see in my description of Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, they can even change your life. Here are some of my favorites for the 10 best YA short story anthologies around.
Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens – ed. Marieke Nijkamp
Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens (2018) is a YA short story anthology edited by Marieke Nijkamp (This Is Where It Ends) that highlights stories that feature differently abled teens. This collection is a much-needed addition to literature of disability. As a differently abled teen, I would have so much benefited from this long-overdue anthology, and I can’t recommend this one enough if you’re trying to better understand the disabled experience.
Contributing authors: William Alexander (Goblin Secrets), Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles), Heidi Heilig (The Girl from Everywhere), and more.
Fresh Ink – ed. Lamar Giles
Editor Lamar Giles (Fake ID) collects stories by 13 leading diverse YA writers in Fresh Ink (2019). This anthology was created in part with We Need Diverse Books, an initiative that started a movement to push for more diversity in children’s and young adult publishing. Fresh Ink’s short stories feature a bevy of marginalized and underrepresented voices to reflect today’s diverse teens.
Contributing authors: Nicola Yoon (The Sun Is Also a Star), Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper), Sara Farizan (Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel), and more.
A Tyranny of Petticoats – ed. Jessica Spotswood
Bucking the stereotype of the prim and proper young woman, Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked) selects short stories that feature kick-ass, fierce lady characters throughout history in A Tyranny of Petticoats (2016). The myriad of women authors present a bouquet of strong female protagonists in these sharp tales. Combines historical fiction and fantasy to imagine new worlds and subvert the past.
Contributing Authors: Marie Lu (Legend), Kekla Magoon (How It Went Down), Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles), and more.
My True Love Gave to Me – ed. Stephanie Perkins
You know a love-themed short story collection is going to be good when it’s edited by contemporary YA romance queen Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss). I always think of My True Love Gave to Me (2014) fondly during the holidays (I do love a good holiday romance). It’s easy to see why this festive collection of tales set a precedent for great YA short story anthologies, packed with contributions from all-star writers.
Contributing authors: Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl), Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Holly Black (The Cruel Prince), and more.
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys – ed. April Genevieve Tucholke
I have very fond memories of the horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys (2015), edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (Wink Poppy Midnight) because it helped lead me to where I am today. The first story is written by Nova Ren Suma (The Walls Around Us), and I loved it so much that I looked her up online. Lo and behold, I found a post on her blog about being recently named a faculty member in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts (where I’m now a student who’s completed her first semester). That was the first time I’d heard of Nova or VCFA, and obviously that one short story really opened doors for me. That’s one of the reasons why I love short story collections. They can introduce you to a new writer who ends up changing your life. So even though this terrifying-thrilling anthology was a bit too scary for me (I’m a wimp when it comes to horror), it ended up leading me to where I am today.
Contributing authors: Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood), Jay Kristoff (Nevernight), and more
Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft – ed. Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe
Another great collection edited by Jessica Spotswood (and Tess Sharpe, author of Far From You), this YA short story anthology focuses on the broad theme of women and witchcraft. In Toil & Trouble (2018), 15 authors reimagine what it means to be a witchy woman, reclaiming the stereotypes that ladies of the craft have faced over time (including persecution) and putting a feminist spin on the supernatural. When I was a teen, I was a budding witch and would read as much as I could about witchcraft. I know this anthology would go a long way to making me feel more comfortable about my pagan identity, and I’m so happy today’s teens have a collection like this.
Contributing Authors: Brandy Colbert (Little & Lion), Emery Lord (When We Collided), Robin Talley (Lies We Tell Ourselves), and more
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages – ed. Saundra Mitchell
Sometimes it seems like fiction straight-washes queer teens out of history. All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages (2018), edited by Saundra Mitchell (The Vespertine) puts LGBT teenagers back into history in 17 stories that reflect the queer spectrum. From a reimagining of Red Riding Hood in 19th century Mexico to a girl exploring her asexual identity across the backdrop of the disco-throbbing 1970s, All Out reflects the diversity of queer experiences throughout time.
Contributing authors: Mackenzi Lee (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue), Shaun David Hutchinson (We Are the Ants), Malinda Lo (Ash), and more.
Unnatural Creatures – ed. Neil Gaiman and Maria Dahvana Headley
Neil Gaiman might be my favorite writer working today, and I recently loved his book Art Matters (reviewed on this blog). His short story anthology Unnatural Creatures (2013) (co-edited with The Mere Wife‘s Maria Dahvana Headley) is a little different than the others in this article. Gaiman’s collection includes contemporary YA writers and fiction by classic authors, too. I was surprised when I read the opening story and realized it was by an author long dead. But it works here, the juxtaposition between new and old, and I like that Gaiman chose stories that were influential on him as a writer. The overarching theme throughout the 16 stories is supernatural creatures (like animals, monsters, spirits, and others). Unnatural Creatures is definitely a YA short story anthology you won’t want to miss.
Contributing Authors: Nnedi Okorafor (Akata Witch), Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle), Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), and more.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings – ed. Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
In A Thousand Beginnings and Endings (2018), editors Ellen Oh (Warrior) and Elsie Chapman (Hungry Hearts – see below) collect sixteen stories that reimagine myths, legends, and folklore from East and South Asia. Bestselling YA authors put a new spin on classic tales, infusing them with fresh perspectives and feminist and queer takes both realistic and fantastical. Both Oh and Chapman work closely with We Need Diverse Books.
Contributing Authors: Julie Kagawa (Iron Fey series), Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn), Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen),
Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love – ed. Caroline Tung Richmond and Elsie Chapman
This last YA short story anthology is forthcoming and will be out in June 2019, but I just had to include it because… well, it’s foodie fiction! Caroline Tung Richmond (The Only Thing to Fear) and Elsie Chapman (A Thousand Beginnings and Endings) collect 13 scrumptious short stories about teens and food in Hungry Hearts (2019). The diversity of voices in Hungry Hearts infuse the stories with different foodie and cooking experiences across cultures. Get ready to eat—This collection is sure to make you hungry and inspired to reach for your apron.
Contributing Authors: Sandhya Menon (When Dimple Met Rishi), Rin Chupeco (The Bone Witch), Adi Alsaid (Let’s Get Lost), and more.