The Story that Changed Me (Through the Shelf Thursday #3)

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (1948)

When I was in elementary and middle school I did not read or write that much.  I HATED writing and only read what I was forced.

But, I do remember reading The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.  I can’t remember exactly what grade I was in (must have been in the fifth or sixth grade), but I will never forget sitting at my desk, and finishing it as part of our class assignment.  The story itself is short and was inserted into our textbook.

It changed me.

It changed how I felt about reading and the power of the written word.  I remember finishing the story and for the first time in my life being moved.  The author had emotionally invested me into the story enough that I cared about the characters and the outcome.

She made me respect what was happening in the world she created.

What was the lottery?

Why could the children participate?  When I read the story for the first time I remember thinking, “Wait a minute, why can these kids play?  My parents play ‘the lottery’ and I can’t, that’s no fair!”

Everyone seemed so keen on doing it, yet there was a calmness about it. Everyone wanted to know who was going to win, but it didn’t seem like anybody was very excited to win. Hmmm!?


The imagery, the foreshadowing, the mood, the climax, and then back to regular life like nothing ever happened.  At a young age I was left speechless, wondering if it was all true?

Simple story that you can either enjoy for story, or you can discuss for the underlying themes (which are MANY).  In both categories, it’s in a league of its own.

Do you remember the first story that really affected you?


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