ELA Reading Comprehension Passages

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  • A Book You Can Walk Through
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    On the island of Java stands a wondrous structure. It is called Borobudur, a name which means “ancient mountain.” Borobudur is not actually a mountain, although it might look like one due to its size and shape. It is a temple made out of thousands of carved stone bricks. Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. It was built 1,200 ...
  • A Bright Idea
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Most of us don’t have to worry very much about the safety of our water. We turn on the faucet and, like magic, out flows clean pure water. But what if you find yourself far from the comforts of home? For example, you might be camping in the woods. Or you may be traveling in a country that lacks clean ...
  • A High-Tech Scavenger Hunt
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    As the entertainment technology in our homes becomes more advanced, there are fewer reasons than ever to leave the house and enjoy nature. In general, the games on our phones, computers, and televisions keep us glued to the couch. However, there is an exception to this rule. It is called geocaching, and it is a fun activity that mixes technology ...
  • A Highly Unique Career
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    My career is highly unique. I use a specialized skill set that took me an entire lifetime to learn. I can earn thousands of dollars in a single day, and the tools of my trade can fit into a single briefcase. Am I a lawyer? A surgeon? A banker? None of the above. There are thousands of lawyers, surgeons, and ...
  • A Historical Myth
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Some historical myths are hard to get rid of. For example, Vikings didn’t wear helmets with horns on them. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he just borrowed the idea. George Washington never cut down a cherry tree. One particularly false story has to do with Christopher Columbus, the explorer who sailed to the Americas in 1492. The story ...
  • A Little Piece of Home
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    As a long-distance truck driver, I spend days at a time away from home. It can be difficult to be away from familiar surroundings, and in order to stay sane, one has to find ways of bringing the comforts of home to the road. For example, I always take my pillow with me so that no matter where I lay ...
  • A Rewarding Job
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Some people enter politics out a desire for wealth or fame, but I like to think that my motivations were a bit less selfish. I genuinely wanted to help my community. It began with the fight over the library. Due to budget cuts, the town council had voted to close the library on Thursdays and Fridays in order to save ...
  • 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 ...
  • A Solution for Better Sleep
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    What is the last thing you see before falling asleep at night? A page of a book? The fuzzy nose of a teddy bear? Or is it the screen on an electronic device? New research suggests that viewing a screen just before falling asleep can be harmful. That is because electronic device screens emit blue light. This blue light interrupts ...
  • A Sweet Miracle
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    For those of us with a sweet tooth, healthy eating can be a challenge. Faced with the choice between a sugary slice of cake and a bitter plate of vegetables, it takes a lot of willpower to make the responsible choice. But dessert lovers, don’t despair! There is a solution…if you’re willing to travel, that is. In the tropical climate ...
  • A Unique Solution to Traffic
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Jakarta, Indonesia is a city on the rise. As people relocate to the capital in search of better-paying jobs, the city’s population is steadily increasing. With this increase in population comes an increase in traffic. Cars, buses, motorbikes, and bicycles: all compete for space on the roads of Jakarta. This causes frequent traffic jams. However, the local government has been ...
  • A Virtual Field Trip
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be someone else for a day? These days, images and videos from the around the globe are just a click away. But actually imagining what it is like to see the world through someone else’s eyes? That is another matter. For Cayne Letizia, that was where virtual reality entered the ...
  • A Wrong Turn Leads to War
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    One of the bloodiest wars in human history was caused, at least in part, by a wrong turn. In June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo. Archduke Ferdinand was the next in line to be the king of Austria-Hungary. But little did he know that he was to be the target of an assassination attempt by a man named ...
  • America’s Polymath
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Benjamin Franklin may have been America’s most famous polymath. Despite how it appears, the word “polymath” has little to do with math. Rather, it means someone who is skilled in many areas. Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father, scientist, writer, and inventor, fit that description perfectly. Franklin was born in 1706 in Boston. His father did not have enough money to send ...
  • Counting Calories
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    On the back of every packaged food item sold at your local grocery store is a label containing nutritional information. The very first number on this label tells customers the number of calories that the food contains. An important component of healthy eating is paying attention to this “calorie count.” Most people know that calories tell us how much of ...
  • Daily Bread
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Gregg Segal is a photographer who is interested in the cultures of the world. Some photographers simply aim to capture a lovely scene or a unique face. But Segal wants to use his photos to tell a story. Segal’s most successful project to date is called Daily Bread. Daily Bread is a series of forty-three photos that show children from ...
  • Dining in the Dark
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Our reservations were for 7:00pm. We arrived at the restaurant early, and I sat skeptically waiting for the experience to begin. Unlike my husband, I had never been to a restaurant like “Dining in the Dark” before, and I did not know quite what to expect. Our waiter arrived, and he instructed each of us to take him by the ...
  • Drone Builders
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Remote control flying vehicles, commonly called “drones,” are not a new invention. However, their popularity has exploded in recent years. This is mostly due to improvements in battery technology. Drones run on battery power. Today’s batteries are smaller, cheaper, and store more power than batteries of the past. This means that today’s drones are cheaper to buy and can fly ...
  • Extraordinary People
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    It’s often said that humans use only ten percent of their brainpower at any given time. This is meant to suggest that if we could only harness the true power of our brains, we could think ten times more quickly, brilliantly, or creatively. The truth, however, is that humans use much more than ten percent of our brains. Our brains ...
  • Imaginary Languages
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In the world of hobbies, I suppose mine is little strange. Some people play sports. Others make music, draw, or take photographs. I create imaginary languages. I’ve always been interested in words. Since the age of seven, I’ve kept a dictionary on the nightstand next to my bed. Other people read magazines, fantasy novels, or mysteries. Tonight I’ll be reading ...
  • Jadav’s Forest
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In a small forest hut outside a tiny village in eastern India lives a man named Jadav Payeng. Jadav has lived in this rural region of India for his entire life. He raises cattle, and his only source of income is the milk they produce. But despite his humble life, Jadav is admired across the world. When Jadav was 16, ...
  • Kwame Nkrumah
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In January of 1950, Kwame Nkrumah sat in a dark and dirty jail cell in Accra, Ghana. His cell was inside Fort James prison, a place where only one hundred years before, slaves were held before being sent to the Americas. It was a place filled with untold sorrow, where the walls seemed to echo with voices from its dark ...
  • Manhattanhenge
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    If you happen to be walking the streets of New York City on the evening of July 12th, 2018, get ready to see something special. The locals call it “Manhattanhenge.” The first thing you’ll notice will be the unusual number of people standing on the sidewalks gazing westward. In a city as bustling and busy as New York, it’s not ...
  • Measuring the Earth
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Circumference is the distance around a curved object like a tennis ball or an orange. Measuring the circumference of everyday objects is not difficult. To measure the circumference of a grapefruit, for example, you might wrap a measuring tape or piece of string around it. But what if you wanted to measure the circumference of the Earth? Would you have ...
  • Mister Trash Wheel
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    The city of Baltimore, Maryland has been working hard to clean up its harbor. In 2014, they found some much-needed help in the form of a unique vessel that the locals call Mr. Trash Wheel. Mr. Trash Wheel is a self-navigating boat that steers around the harbor and picks up trash. It runs on solar power and uses a conveyor ...
  • Mobile Money
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In the United States, 93% of adults have to a bank account. But in poorer countries, many people do not have access to banks. In fact, over two billion people across the globe do not have a bank account. Life without banks can be difficult. Instead of being paid with a check or a transfer of money directly to their ...
  • Moving Day
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Sometimes, you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. I learned that lesson many summers ago on a hot July afternoon. It was moving day, and my parents had spent the morning packing every item we owned into a large truck. My clothes, my soccer trophies, my old toys: every single item that I called my own was packed ...
  • My Odd Upbringing
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    To call my upbringing odd would be the understatement of the century. My family made oddballs look normal. I grew up on what you might call a houseboat. I suppose it technically was both house and boat, since we lived aboard the contraption and it floated (usually). But it looked more like a floating shack than a houseboat. My father ...
  • Origami Inspiration
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Origami is the ancient art of paper-folding. It begins with a single sheet of thin paper. By folding the paper, the origami artist turns the flat sheet into a three-dimensional sculpture. Popular origami figures include cranes, swans, butterflies, flowers, and stars. Recently, however, origami has become more than just a fun pastime. Scientists are now using this ancient art to ...
  • Ransomware
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    The Internet is a powerful tool, but like any powerful tool, it can be dangerous if used carelessly. The latest threat to sweep across the online world is called ransomware. Ransomware is a combination of two words: ransom, which refers to money given to a kidnapper, and software, which refers to a computer program. Ransomware is a computer virus that ...
  • Silent Music
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    It must have seemed like a cruel twist of fate to Ludwig von Beethoven when, at the age of 28, he began to go deaf. Beethoven was known as the greatest composer of his day. His beautiful symphonies had brought him money and fame. His creativity and skill were at their height. Then the ringing in his ears began. Over ...
  • Sojourner Truth
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    On an afternoon in 1828, an African American woman named Sojourner Truth walked out of a New York courtroom with her head held high. She had just won a court case that would reunite her with her son. Like all children of slaves, Truth’s son was considered to be the property of the slave owner. But with the laws in ...
  • Street Eats
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    When it comes to running a restaurant, the three most important factors are location, location, and location! That is what makes food carts such a neat idea. These mobile restaurants can sell food at the busiest corners in a city without paying the high cost of renting a permanent space. They set up early in the morning and sell their ...
  • Struggling to Speak
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    I have a disorder that most people misunderstand. I stutter, which means that I have trouble speaking. I get stuck on certain words, repeating them several times. Even though my problem is shared by around 70 million people worldwide, it is still widely misunderstood. People often think that because I stutter, I must be feeling nervous or anxious. The truth ...
  • Summer in Managua
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    My parents came to the United States in August of 1992, just months before I entered the world. They settled in Buffalo, New York, where a job awaited my father. My uncles had warned that the winters could be bracingly cold. Still, my parents were caught by surprise in September when the weather began to turn. By the time December ...
  • The Best Job in the World
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    I just might have the best job in the entire world. It’s certainly the job that best fits my passions and personality. I am an ethnomusicologist. It’s a fancy-sounding word with a simple meaning. Let’s break it down: “ethno” means “people,” “-ologist” means someone who studies something, and “music” – you already know what that means. In other words, I ...
  • The Drive to Win
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In my experience as a high school basketball coach, there are two kinds of players that create a winning team: players with talent and players with drive. While I’ll readily take either on my team, if I am able to choose, I’ll pick the player with drive every time. I can spot talented players from a mile away. They usually ...
  • The Game of Twenty Squares
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In 1926, a British archaeologist named Leonard Woolley made an interesting discovery. Woolley was digging among the ruins of the ancient city of Ur. He uncovered the edge of a small piece of wood. It was decorated with pieces of a beautiful blue stone called lapis lazuli, as well as shell and red limestone. At first, Woolley was unsure of ...
  • The Great Emu War
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In the history of military defeats, one of the most comically strange is the Australian Army’s defeat at the hands of a flock of emus in “The Great Emu War.” In 1932, a large number of emus began destroying the wheat fields of Western Australia. These heavy flightless birds consumed farmers’ crops and ruined their fencing. The situation became so ...
  • The Great White
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    The line for “The Great White” moved slowly. My friends chattered and laughed, but I was too nervous to talk. I didn’t want to admit to them that I had never ridden a rollercoaster before. I didn’t want to admit that I was terrified. “It’s OK to be scared,” I told myself, “as long as you don’t chicken out.” Still, ...
  • The Human Camera
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Could you draw a picture of the street you live on from memory? How many details would you remember? Most of us do not have the ability to remember the tiny details of things we have seen. However, there are people who have this skill. They have photographic memories, which means that their memories are as accurate as a photograph. ...
  • The Most Important Job
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In the days before home washing machines, people brought their clothes to the local laundromat to be cleaned. My parents had inherited Federico’s Family Laundromat from my grandfather, and it was a true family operation. My father worked the washing machines while my mother sat at the sewing machine, fixing rips and tears. My Aunt Gloria tended the cash register. ...
  • The Science of 3D Movies
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    The lights in the movie theater go down. A message appears on the screen that reminds you to put on your special glasses. Suddenly, the picture comes to life in three dimensions! Like magic, shapes and colors burst into the space between you and the screen. It is a wondrous experience. 3D movies may seem like cutting-edge technology, but you ...
  • The Secret Ingredient
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Grandma’s cooking was famous throughout the neighborhood. My mother always told me that she put a secret ingredient in every one of her dishes. That secret ingredient, I assumed, must be the reason why her food was so delicious. So naturally, when one summer morning Grandma invited me into the kitchen to help with the tomato sauce, I jumped at ...
  • The Sign Language Class
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    I entered the classroom and saw that the professor was already seated behind her desk at the front of the room. A message on the chalkboard read, “Welcome to Sign Language 101! Please take a handout and begin reading.” I followed its instructions as the rest of my classmates filed into the room. At the start of class, the professor ...
  • Tough Love
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    As a boy, I used to wait in the kitchen for my father to come home from work. When he came through the door, he would pick me up and kiss me on the top of my head. “How was work?” I’d always ask. I knew that a story was sure to follow. It seemed like something funny was always ...
  • Training Daisy
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    The day had finally arrived. Skyler and Kenny waited expectantly by the door. They whispered to each other so as not to miss the sound of the car pulling into the driveway. They did not have to wait for long. They heard the familiar “thump, thump” of their father’s station wagon as it turned off the street and into the ...
  • Trash Patrol
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In the summer months, my younger sister and I used to spend our mornings scavenging for electronics equipment. We would patrol the neighborhood on our bicycles, looking for items left by the side of the road for the trash man to pick up. Lamps, alarm clocks, radios, stereos, televisions: all went into the basket on the back of my bike. ...
  • Wakaliwood
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    You have probably heard of Hollywood, but have you heard of Wakaliwood? It is central Africa’s answer to the land of movie stars and blockbusters. In the poor neighborhood of Wakaliga, Uganda, a man named Isaac Nabwana makes movies with little more than creativity, ambition, and the help of his neighbors. That is why Nabwana’s neighborhood has earned the nickname ...
  • Wuz Yer Name?
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    It was the first day of third grade. I sat alone in the cafeteria, a painfully shy girl of eight years old, staring at my shoes and hoping that no one would try to talk to me. Suddenly, I looked up to see a girl in a purple dress stomping confidently toward me. She was pumping her fists as she ...