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.

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 are constantly hard at work, and sadly, there is no secret technique that will unlock more brainpower.

Still, the world is filled with incredible humans who seem to have mental powers far beyond those of ordinary people. They are known as prodigies. Take, for example, Shakuntala Devi. Born in 1929 in Bengaluru, India, Shakuntala was a math prodigy. She had an incredible ability to do mental math. She once multiplied two thirteen-digit numbers in her head, arriving at a correct answer in only 28 seconds.

Ray Gillon is a different type of prodigy. His special talent is languages. He can speak eighteen languages perfectly and is learning another ten. He is known as a polyglot: someone with an incredible ability to learn new languages. One famous polyglot, Giuseppe Caspar Mezzofanti of Italy, was said to be able to speak at least thirty languages.

Scientists are anxious to study the brains of those who have special talents and abilities. But so far, we still know very little about what causes certain people to become prodigies. Brain scans show that in many ways, their brains are different from those of ordinary people. But the cause of these differences is still unknown. Are prodigies born different, or do they become prodigies during their childhood? It will take much more research to learn the answers to these fascinating questions.

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