Grades 4-6 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 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 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 ...
  • Are You Smarter than a Caveman? A Prehistory Debate
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Person 1: I plan to argue that the so-called “caveman” has an unfair reputation as an unintelligent animal. This reputation is disproven by the evidence. As I will show, these ancestors of early humans are misunderstood. First of all, “caveman” is a mixed-up term. It’s simply a stereotype. “Caveman” unfairly mixes together groups of humans and their ancestors. In fact, ...
  • Cuneiform: The First System of Writing
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    I believe that writing is the most important invention in history. It is the most important for two reasons. First, it helped governments and businesses become more effective. Second, it helped ideas to spread. Writing was invented by the Sumerians. They invented it around 5,000 years ago. They used writing to make their government work better. One example is Hammurabi’s ...
  • 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 ...
  • How Our People Tamed the Animals
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    “You must keep in mind that the Ice Age didn’t happen overnight. You kids today seem to think that one day we all woke up with our feet turned to icicles!” The children gathered around their grandfather tittered with laughter. They had heard the tale a hundred times, but they never tired of it. Granddad continued his story. “The truth ...
  • 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 ...
  • Lucy: Forty Years Later
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    By Marcus A.R. Bolt The Sunday Times 27 November, 2014 Forty years ago to the day, anthropologist Donald Johnson was digging. He dug at a quiet place in northern Ethiopia. This corner of eastern Africa was quite remote. It was not a very popular spot for people like Johnson to work. That is because the soil there was 3.2 million ...
  • 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 ...
  • Mesopotamia: Humanity’s Greatest Invention
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    I believe that writing is the most important invention in history. It is the most important for two reasons. First, it helped governments and businesses become more effective. Second, it helped ideas to spread. Writing was invented by the Sumerians. They invented it around 5,000 years ago. They used writing to make their government work better. One example is Hammurabi’s ...
  • Mesopotamia: The Code of Hammurabi
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    In 1901, a large stone was found by archaeologists in the Middle East. It was covered in cuneiform. Cuneiform was an ancient writing system. When the archaeologists translated the writing, they learned that it was a set of laws. The archaeologists had found Hammurabi’s Code. Their discovery was one of the most important finds in human history. Hammurabi was an ...
  • Mesopotamia: The Rise of River Valley Civilizations
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    For early humans, fresh water could be hard to find. Because water was scarce, rivers became very important. For thousands of years, hunter-gatherers around the world stayed close to rivers. They followed them as their tribes moved from place to place. Along the banks of a river, they could find plants and animals to eat. Over time, humans began to ...
  • Mesopotamia: Visit The Ziggurat!
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Have you visited amazing, unforgettable Ur? It’s the religious, cultural, and business hub of Sumer. You just haven’t seen all that the “Land Between Two Rivers” has to offer if you haven’t visited this city. If you visited Ur around 2029 BC, you might have noticed a lot of construction going on. King Ur-Nammu, who now walks with the gods ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • Prehistoric Art: Gazing into the Minds of Early Humans
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    We can learn a lot about how early humans lived. We do this by studying artifacts. But is it possible, thousands of years later, to peer into their hearts and minds? What did they think? What did they care about? How did they see themselves? How did they see the world? We may have answers to these intriguing questions. The ...
  • 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 ...
  • Sumer: The First Civilization
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    The first civilization appeared around 5,500 years ago. It rose up along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Today that land is the country of Iraq. At that time, it was called Mesopotamia. What was special about that land between two rivers? It had rich soil that was good for farming. The people who lived along these two rivers were called ...
  • The First Humans
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    There are many ways to study the peoples of the past. We can look at the cities they left behind. We can read the texts they wrote. But studying the earliest humans can be harder. This is because the first humans did not leave behind great cities or complex texts. So how can we learn about our earliest ancestors? The ...
  • 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 Neolithic Revolution
    A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts
    Around 10,000 BC, humans went through an important change. It was the most important change in human history. By its end, wandering hunter-gatherers would stop wandering and instead form permanent settlements. This change is called the Neolithic Revolution. The Neolithic Revolution was a change in how humans survived. In the Paleolithic Era, humans were nomads. They moved from place to ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...