19 Captivating Spanish Short Stories from Beginner to Advanced
Short stories are a great way to make reading in Spanish approachable and interesting.
Spanish short stories make it easier to read a wider variety of material, keeping you from getting bogged down in something that doesn’t interest you.
This also lets you cover more topics, genres and vocabulary in a shorter time.
If you’re looking to explore some Spanish literature without committing to a full Spanish-language novel, we can help you find a good short story!
- 19 Short Stories to Practice Spanish
- 1. “En el aeropuerto”
- 2. “Tairon el super tramposo” by Hans Wilhelm
- 3. “Mi casa”
- 4. “Ricitos de oro” by Robert Southey
- 5. “Me siento alegre” by Andrae Ovalle
- 6. “La Ratita Presumida”
- 7. “Al final del callejón” by Jesús Cano Urbano
- 8. “Continuidad de los parques” by Julio Cortázar
- 9. “María Dos Prazeres” by Gabriel García Márquez
- 10. “Míster Taylor” by Augusto Monterroso
- 11. “Cuentos de Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende
- 12. “Doce cuentos peregrinos” by Gabriel García Márquez
- 13. “El almohadón de plumas” by Horacio Quiroga
- 14. “El cuento envenenado” by Rosario Ferré
- 15. “El Ojo Silva” by Roberto Bolaño
- 16. “La biblioteca de Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges
- 17. “Lección de cocina” by Rosario Castellanos
- 18. “El ahogado más hermoso del mundo” by Gabriel García Márquez
- 19. “La Muñeca Menor” by Rosario Ferré
- Why Learn with Spanish Language Short Stories?
- Tips for Learners
- Tips for Educators
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19 Short Stories to Practice Spanish
1. “En el aeropuerto”
The actual content of this story may not be suitable for younger students (since it does happen to mention drug-sniffing dogs and explosives) but the language is certainly simple enough for most beginner Spanish students.
The story is in the present tense and is written clearly. It’s also accompanied by an English translation and clearly-spoken Spanish audio with a rather natural-sounding accent.
Check out all the other short stories for absolute beginners available on the Learn Practical Spanish Online website.
2. “Tairon el super tramposo” by Hans Wilhelm
This fun little tale is perfect for younger Spanish students as there are large illustrations perfectly matching the written text.
Tairon, a large and dominating dinosaur, cheats at all of the games that the other dinosaurs had planned for their fun weekend away—but the other dinosaurs decide to play a clever trick on Tairon. In the end, he learns a valuable lesson.
The story uses some simple past tense constructions so it’s a good pick for reinforcing this grammar topic. It’s also a good basis to start a class discussion about what everyone did last weekend.
You’ll find a few more charming, illustrated short stories for beginners like this one available on the Children’s Library website. Although the Spanish selection isn’t massive, the stories are very high quality and perfect for younger students.
3. “Mi casa”
This simple story is an ideal beginner story to teach adjectives related to houses and family life. The narrator describes their new home in a bustling urban center, along with all the reasons why they’re happy about living there.
You could base a whole class session around this one short story—students usually love chatting about their homes and families, so conversations will abound.
Since the story is hosted on Lingua, you’ll find it comes with a short comprehension quiz at the end, a downloadable PDF and even recordings of the story in a variety of Spanish accents. Check out this site for more fun stories for all Spanish skill levels!
4. “Ricitos de oro” by Robert Southey
This is simply the classic fairytale, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” You probably already know it by heart, which makes it a very easy-to-understand short story.
This Spanish translation on the Cuentos infantiles website is a shortened version that follows the same, well-trodden storyline, and includes cute cartoon images for extra context.
As in the classic story, there are lots of adjectives and comparatives to describe the differences between the bears, beds and bowls of porridge—too hot, too cold, just right, you know the drill here.
You’ll find 300 more fun Spanish stories on Cuentos infantiles, many of which are based on classic English stories. The stories are suitable for all ages, but the site also offers a recommended age range for each one.
5. “Me siento alegre” by Andrae Ovalle
This interactive and positive short story is perfect for learners who are working on mastering basic Spanish nouns and descriptive adjectives.
It’s told from the perspectives of young children recounting the people, places and things that make them feel happy.
Thanks to being available on Unite for Literacy, the story comes with a clear, well-enunciated audio narration that you can play in both Spanish and English.
I recommend perusing this site for more great classroom content—just don’t forget to switch the language to Spanish when you’re running a search here (they offer stories in lots of different languages).
6. “La Ratita Presumida”
This story has been floating around for centuries. Starting off orally, it was put to paper in “Lágrimas” by Fernán Caballero in 1839.
There are quite a few different versions of this story, but it usually involves a soon-to-be-wed mouse, her many suitors and a cat. While this tale may sound a little dark, it’s widely used as a children’s book because of its moral and educational value.
If it’s your first time reading a short story in Spanish, this is a great one to start with. Having just a few hundred words in length, it’s short, simple and easy to get through.
7. “Al final del callejón” by Jesús Cano Urbano
“Al final del callejón” is a story found on E-stories, a website with user-provided short stories which cover an immense range of genres, topics and language levels.
This story is short and sweet, and depicts a creepy, mysterious scenario. Andrés chases a ball down an alley and stumbles across a strange secret. Nothing too complex, but definitely intriguing.
8. “Continuidad de los parques” by Julio Cortázar
Julio Cortázar is an Argentine author known for his short stories and his novels alike, he’s often considered “a writer’s writer”—Carlos Fuentes called him “the Simón Bolívar of the novel.”
“Continuidad de los parques” (“Continuity of Parks”) is not too difficult a read. First of all, it’s very short—less than two full pages in print. It’s also a lot of fun, containing a plot twist that gets you questioning the nature of literature itself.
9. “María Dos Prazeres” by Gabriel García Márquez
“María Dos Prazeres” was originally published in 1992 as part of a collection of stories titled “Doce Cuentos Peregrinos” (Twelve Pilgrim Stories).
It was written by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, who is the same author of one of the most widespread books in Spanish and in English, “Cien Años de Soledad” (One Hundred Years of Solitude).
The story is about an elderly woman who had a vision of her death and begins carefully preparing for it. Then she finds that there was an error in the vision she had.
While the stories in “Doce Cuentos Peregrinos” are fairly short, they do contain quite a few words that may be confusing, so be sure to keep your trusty dictionary and translator handy for this one.
10. “Míster Taylor” by Augusto Monterroso
Augusto Monterroso, a Honduran writer and member of what would eventually be called the Latin American “Boom” generation, was renowned primarily for his humorous and often ironic short stories.
The story is titled “Míster Taylor” because the main character in this story is an American—a Bostonian, to be exact.
After arriving in the Amazon in the 1940s, this man enters the strange business of exporting shrunken heads. The villagers, who originally sign on to his business plan, have no idea what they’re in for.
A parable of sorts about the exploitation of Latin America by North American business interests, this short story is sure to give you a new perspective on the (often legitimate) grievances coming from the region even to this day.
Full of dark humor and not-so-subtle irony, “Míster Taylor” is a highly recommended read.
11. “Cuentos de Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende
This collection of short stories is focused on Eva Luna, a character from one of Isabel Allende’s previous novels.
Eva was orphaned after a series of dramatic and unfortunate events, and bounced from brothel rooms to jail cells, city streets and outbreaks of guerrilla warfare. Now, this colorful character weaves tales of intrigue, love, death, revenge and black humor to entertain her lover.
The tales are gritty, and may be thematically challenging for students. But this is a great read for advanced learners who are comfortable with facing the oft-uncomfortable realities and injustices of life in Latin America.
For these popular tales, there are versions that are perfect for Spanish students still looking for a leg up while reading. For example, this version contains both Spanish and English versions together, as well as a reading guide.
12. “Doce cuentos peregrinos” by Gabriel García Márquez
The constant discussion of “foreignness” and feeling like “the other” makes this collection a fantastic read for learners and future travelers. Each story is about six to 10 text-heavy pages, not too long and not too short for advanced learners.
That being said, the length and difficulty level make these stories best suited for at-home assignments. The language is all about leading readers through a clear, straightforward narrative, so there is little romantic, poetic or lofty language to tackle.
13. “El almohadón de plumas” by Horacio Quiroga
Though he also wrote plays and poetry, Uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga is far and away most famous for his short stories. In fact, he is often considered the father of modern Spanish-language short story writing.
Known for his dark style, Quiroga is sometimes called “the Edgar Allan Poe of Latin America.“
The story is about a young girl who gets married to a cold older man and her subsequent slide into a mysterious illness. We don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s pretty horrific.
Though the language, specifically the somewhat ornate vocabulary, can be a bit difficult, fans of horror simply can’t miss this one.
14. “El cuento envenenado” by Rosario Ferré
The daughter of Puerto Rico’s third elected governor, Ferré’s career might have been helped by her family’s status and wealth but it certainly doesn’t rely upon it.
“El cuento envenenado” (“The Poisoned Story”) is quite complicated, but at the same time a lot of fun. The story plays with the very building blocks of literature, exploring the potential of different narrators in this tale about a young girl named Rosaura (or was it Rosa?).
For a playfully masterful tale that also explores serious topics like the evolving nature of social class by one of the Caribbean’s greatest living female writers, you can’t do much better than “El cuento envenenado.”
15. “El Ojo Silva” by Roberto Bolaño
Mostly unrecognized until the final years of his tragically short life, Bolaño has posthumously grown into a giant of Latin American literature, often called the most important Spanish-language writer since Gabriel García Márquez.
“El Ojo Silva” (“Silva the Eye”) follows a homosexual Chilean expatriate photographer who, though he tries his very best to avoid it, eventually encounters life’s “inescapable” violence while on assignment in India.
The story captures many of the defining characteristics of Bolaño’s work—particularly the brief moments of humor and light injected into an otherwise hopelessly pessimistic depiction of the world.
Expect to be shaken up a bit by this one, but also to emerge on the other side with a new-found appreciation for literature as a vehicle to escape from even the harshest of realities.
16. “La biblioteca de Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges was an Argentine writer best known for his short stories. Much of his work is philosophical in nature, though he also contributed to the fantasy genre. He’s considered a predecessor to the “magical realism” movement that later swept Latin America.
“La biblioteca de Babel” (“The Library of Babel”), originally published in the 1941 collection “El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan” (“The Garden of Forking Paths”) is the story of a self-contained universe that takes the form of a library.
If it sounds a bit heady, that’s because it is—but if you enjoy stories that get you thinking, you can’t do much better than this.
17. “Lección de cocina” by Rosario Castellanos
Despite her young, untimely death, Mexican writer Rosario Castellanos was arguably the most influential writer to emerge from the “Generation of 1950.”
Far ahead of her time, especially regarding themes of cultural and gender-based oppression, her work has contributed to and inspired much feminist theory.
“Lección de cocina” (“Cooking Lesson”) is perhaps an ironic title, considering the fact that our narrator isn’t much of a cook at all. She is a liberal, educated woman unfamiliar with her environment, and the story follows her thought process as she attempts to prepare her first meal for her new husband.
“Lección de cocina” is not only a masterfully written short story, but also a powerful denouncement of limiting gender roles.
18. “El ahogado más hermoso del mundo” by Gabriel García Márquez
“El ahogado más hermoso del mundo” (“The Most Handsome Drowned Man in the World”) is a fine example of the magical realism genre, in which fantastic elements are inserted into otherwise realistic environments.
The story deals with the events following the arrival of a beautiful drowned body on the shores of a small fishing village.
Like many great works of literature, “El ahogado más hermoso del mundo” opens itself to a variety of interpretations and analyses.
The most important thing for the Spanish learner, however, is that it distills the incomparable style of Gabriel García Marquéz into short story form.
19. “La Muñeca Menor” by Rosario Ferré
“La Muñeca Menor” is a unique short story about a woman, who after bathing in a river, receives a bite from a river bug that damages her leg severely, leaving her disabled.
As a wealthy widow and the aunt of three nieces, the doctor she had kept for years begins to take advantage of the sickly woman. While she could have been cured, the doctor keeps her as a patient through the years for his own monetary gain.
While it’s only a few pages in length, “La Muñeca Menor” has been frequently used in literature classes and many critical essays have been written about the short story.
Classified in the genre of magical realism, this story is not only surprising and entertaining, but also symbolic and aims to teach a lesson.
Because of this, it’s a bit higher-level than the others on the list, but because the story became so widespread, there are many translations and additional resources available to help.
Why Learn with Spanish Language Short Stories?
Why are short stories the best option for those who struggle to read in Spanish? Here are three solid reasons:
They require less time than a full novel
Short stories are a great way to introduce yourself to Spanish-language literature without making such an intense commitment. This is especially important to consider if you’re past a beginner reading level but not quite advanced yet.
Since short stories are so approachable, you could easily focus on one story per week to build up your reading skills. Or before committing to a full novel, you can explore these short stories to find an author who interests you.
You learn about other cultures and time periods
Reading a contemporary novel from Argentina can give you a great window into modern Argentinian Spanish, but what if you want to explore how Spanish is spoken in Chile too? Or what if you’d like to compare a modern dialect to one that was spoken a century ago?
Though it would be great to read full novels to explore how Spanish is (and was!) spoken in many different parts of the world, this is simply impossible for most of us. Short stories are often a more realistic option.
You’ll also diversify your Spanish by learning about different cultures associated with the language, and by seeing differing styles of writing and perspectives.
When you interact with a culture’s most treasured stories, you will learn more about their historical impact and how/why they came to hold such importance.
They’re a fun way to practice a challenging skill
If you want to practice your Spanish listening skills, all you really have to do is pop on some music or a podcast, kick back and relax. Not so with reading.
You can’t zone out while you read, and therefore many language learners find it an especially taxing activity. Short stories allow those of us with shorter attention spans to enjoy reading as well.
Tips for Learners
Read with your highlighter
Whether you’re reading a physical book or from some sort of screen, don’t hesitate to mark any words that you don’t know. This is imperative to expanding your Spanish-language vocabulary. It also brings us to our next tip:
Read with your dictionary
This isn’t to say that you should immediately consult your dictionary every time you’re unsure about a word. Sometimes you can often figure out what a word means from context.
But if a lack of comprehension leads to you losing the plot, you’ve got no choice but to open up your dictionary and start figuring things out.
Online dictionaries like SpanishDict come in quite handy when reading Spanish literature, especially when they explain what the word means in different contexts (or dialects).
Review what you learn
Once you’ve read your story, it’s time to solidify the new vocabulary you’ve picked up. Look at the words you’ve marked as unfamiliar and add them to your study routine.
No matter how you prefer to learn new Spanish vocabulary, make sure to study these new words so you don’t forget them.
Check back on your story
Once you’ve truly learned your new vocabulary, it’s time to go back and reread your short story. It’s a great feeling to return to a story to realize that reading it has become an easier and clearer experience.
These four tips should be enough for now to get you on your way to effectively reading Spanish short stories.
Tips for Educators
We all know that reading is critical for Spanish students to develop comprehension and writing skills.
Not only that, but by exposing students’ brains to Spanish language written for native Spanish speakers, they’ll start to familiarize themselves better with the sounds, rhythms and rules of the language.
They’ll start to look at and listen to Spanish sentences and know intuitively whether those sentences are correct or not.
Choosing the best short stories for your students
Here’s the breakdown for each type of student:
- Beginners and younger students fare better when short stories are accompanied by images, video and audio.
This helps build greater context while they read along—or perhaps can provide clarification after they’ve attempted to understand the text on its own.
- Intermediate Spanish students can handle text and text alone, but they’ll need texts that don’t dive into complex and artistic language.
Rather, you’ll want to select texts that highlight key linguistic concepts. For instance, you could choose a brief mystery story rife with indecision and vague assumptions to help teach the subjunctive.
- Advanced students need more cultural and artistic value to boost their language.
Since they’ve gotten down most of the nuts and bolts of the language, it can be highly beneficial for them to see how authors play with language to indirectly suggest ideas, create rich environments and capture emotion.
This will introduce them to more advanced vocabulary and grammar, which can mostly be inferred from context at this stage of learning, and expose them to the true depth of the Spanish language.
Making the most of short stories
Many students have only gotten to read Spanish on homework instructions and in their textbooks. Staring down the barrel of a full-on, 100% Spanish novel can leave students quaking in their books—regardless of their skill level.
We know students will greatly benefit from reading Spanish literature, but it can be difficult to get started.
Use short stories as in-class activities
Due to their length, short stories can be easily digested by students during class time.
Stories can be read together as a class, individually or in groups. Any way you go, you’ll have ample time to finish a quick read-through and get into activities and class discussion afterward.
As their skills improve, you can have students do a timed comprehension activity. Write up a worksheet or packet to accompany the short story, and have them complete this after they’ve read through the short story.
This promotes smooth, natural reading comprehension, as students can’t stop to look up unknown words or get distracted for even a moment.
Pair short stories with video and audio
Play accompanying video and audio in-class when available, while reading the story. You could also record yourself reading the story out loud, or you could record your students reading and play it back to them.
You can also use a program like FluentU as another helpful multimedia resource. FluentU has hundreds of authentic Spanish videos that you can easily integrate into your lesson plans.
These include some readings of Spanish short stories, animated children’s stories and even tips on how to start your own story.
FluentU has features to support students, like the option to click on a word in the video subtitles to view information such as its contextual meaning and other videos where it appears.
You can read a story in class, then assign homework to either watch that same story in video form, or watch several videos that use vocabulary from the story.
You can also use FluentU‘s exercises to make sure your students get practice with their new vocabulary words.
Use short stories as homework assignments
A short story is far less intimidating to tackle solo than a larger reading project. And students don’t need to fully comprehend previous chapters or remember information for future chapters.
For a more in-depth assignment, request that students complete a written assignment like an essay on a selected story element, a character profile, an opinion piece or a quick summary.
Break down stories into elements
Did you ever make a Five Story Elements Glove in school? Students trace the outline of their hand and then fill in the details of the five elements in each finger.
While you could choose your own elements to discuss, traditionally you’ll talk about: problem, events, solution, setting and characters. A summary of the story’s main ideas will go in the palm of the hand.
Use for group activities
Form small groups of students and assign each group its own short story. Have them create small scripts based on their stories, which they can either record themselves performing at home or act out in front of the class.
Short stories are such an excellent tool for Spanish students, and your students will only reach fluency faster by taking this shortcut.
Plus, I think you’ll love using short stories just as much as your Spanish students will enjoy reading them!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)