Welcome to Common Core Texts, a project by Michael DeJoseph. Here you'll find high-quality reading passages for grades 3 to 12 in ELA, Social Studies, History, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and many other topics.

A Rose for Ellen
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

My grandmother’s name is Ellen Rosemary Dagostino, but I didn’t find that out until I was nearly an adult. To us, she was just “Nana.” We never imagined that Nana had a life or a history of her own. In our minds, she existed only to bake cookies and cover us with kisses.

When Nana turned eighty years old, she announced that it was time for her to move out of the big old house on Canal Street and into the retirement community across town. All the grandkids pitched in to help Nana pack up her belongings. It was a daunting task because the house was filled with decades of clutter.

One Saturday afternoon, I was helping Nana sort through the contents of a dresser when I came across an envelope. I opened it to find the remains of a red rose, dried and pressed flat. “Nana, what’s this?” I asked.

“That was from your grandfather,” she replied with a far-off look in her eyes. “There should be a note.”

Sure enough, a yellowed piece of paper fluttered out of the envelope and onto the floor. I picked it up and read it.

“To Ellen, with everlasting devotion. May our love continue to grow, just like this rose.”

“Who is Ellen?” I asked, confused by the unfamiliar name.

“Sweetheart,” Nana replied, “Ellen is me.”

In an instant, I saw Nana not as a grandmother, but as a young woman, filled with dreams of the future. The years melted away from her as though the room had come under a magic spell.

“Nana! You were in love!” I exclaimed.

“Of course I was, sweetheart. And I still am,” my grandmother replied.


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