roald dahl short stories

If you’re looking for a list of scary Roald Dahl short stories that you can read with your middle school students, I’ve curated a list just for you. This Roald Dahl compilation is a great way to introduce your students to the horror genre, and you can use these short stories to teach suspense, foreshadowing, irony, and much more. And what better time to read them than in October or close to Halloween? These short stories are creepy, suspenseful, and downright chilling… and your students will love them!

roald dahl short stories lamb to the slaughter

#1) Lamb to the Slaughter

Lamb to the Slaughter is a gruesome but darkly funny short story by Roald Dahl. The story revolves around Mary Maloney, a pregnant woman who bludgeons her husband to death with a frozen leg of lamb. As the police investigate the murder, Mary calmly prepares dinner for them, using the very weapon she used to kill her husband. The story’s twists and turns will keep your students on edge until the very end, and its twisted humor will have them laughing in spite of themselves. The story also raises important questions about justice and morality, making it a solid choice for an engaging class discussion. Lamb to the Slaughter will keep your students spooked and engaged from start to finish!

#2) Skin

Skin is one of Roald Dahl’s lesser-known short stories, but make no mistake; it isn’t any less chilling. The story follows an old tattooist who asks a very young but very skilled artist to paint his wife on his back, then tattoo it. Upon completion, the artist, who is quite proud of his work, finishes the tattoo with his signature. Many years pass, and the wealthy tattooist becomes a poor old man. As he strolls through town one day, he passes a gallery featuring vaguely familiar work. He realizes it is the work of the same artist who tattooed his back all those years ago. The story takes a morbid twist when the tattooist proudly displays his back tattoo in the gallery, and the gallery owner offers him a large sum of money to purchase the tattoo…

Skin will have your students on the edge of their seats until the very end! Once they’ve finished the story, prepare for an excited and animated discussion about what they think happened to the old tattooist.

roald dahl short stories skin
roald dahl short stories the hitchhiker

#3) The Hitchhiker

Roald Dahl’s short story The Hitchhiker is not to be confused with Lucille Fletcher’s hitchhiker. Roald Dahl’s version is a short story that tells the tale of a man who picks up a sly hitchhiker while driving his brand-new car through London. The hitchhiker goads the driver into proving how fast his car will go, and, unsurprisingly, the two get pulled over by a policeman. Once the two get back on the road to London, the driver begins to question the trade of the hitchhiker. Rather than telling the driver outright, the hitchhiker starts to show the driver his trade… by displaying all of the items he has masterfully stolen from him without his noticing. The story will keep your students’ attention as they try to unravel the mystery of the hitchhiker. It’s an entertaining plot that offers endless opportunities to analyze characters.

#4) The Landlady

You know I saved the best for last, right? “The Landlady” is a short story by Roald Dahl that tells the story of a young man named Billy Weaver who arrives in Bath, England, looking for a place to stay. He finds a room for rent at a boarding house run by an elderly woman who seems nice enough at first. But as Billy begins to suspect that something is not quite right about his landlady, he starts to fear for his safety. The story is suspenseful and chilling, and it provides an important lesson about being careful of who you trust.

“The Landlady” is the best example of Dahl’s darker writing style and is guaranteed to stick with your students long after they finish reading. If you want to see how I make the most of this short story in my classroom, head over to this article.

roald dahl short stories the landlady

I hope you carve out time to enjoy at least one of these Roald Dahl short stories with your students. They will enjoy seeing a different (and darker) side of the author of some of their favorite childhood stories, like Matilda and The BFG. I’d love to hear how it goes! Leave a comment below or find me on IG/FB and let me know.

Happy Teaching!

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