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.

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 is, the cold came little by little. Year after year, the berries sprouted on the bush later and later. The bear slept longer and deeper in his cave. Finally, the ground was a permanent sheet of ice. Things began to change. Did you know we used to hunt animals as big as six full-grown men?”

“It’s not true, Granddad!” the children shouted.

“Of course it is. There used to be wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and crocodiles as long as a tree is tall! We called them megafauna: great beasts. But little by little, they disappeared. There simply wasn’t enough food for them to eat. So they starved, and your ancestors starved along with them. They were hard times, and they lasted almost as long as the memories of our people can recall. But one day, the great sheets of ice began to recede.”

Their grandfather stared into the fire, seeming to remember those days thousands of years ago. “But the great beasts never returned. In their place was the wild pig, the wolf, the ox, and others. But they were dangerous beasts then, not the fat, peaceful playthings you tend now! Don’t you laugh at me! Where do you think the pig and the cow came from? Do you think they wandered into the village one day and cried out, ‘Please eat me, humans! I’m so fat and tasty!'”

The children howled with laughter. “Your ancestors made the cow! We made the pig and the dog! They were fearsome animals until we tamed them. Of course, that took the work of many generations. At first, our people simply caught them in traps and cages. Instead of hunting them down and eating them right away, we let them live. We fed them our scraps until they were fat and ready to eat. But as your mothers are always reminding you, it pays to be kind. Do you know what we did with the sweetest and fattest and most peaceful of the bunch? We let them have babies. And the sweetest and fattest and most peaceful of those offspring we let breed too. For thousands of years, our people have worked to domesticate the wild beasts: to tame them. And look at them now: from fearsome monsters to gentle little lambs!”

“So you see, children, things haven’t always been so easy for us. So the next time you pet your dog or milk the cows, say thank you to our ancestors. Be glad that you’re not hunting a wooly mammoth for your next meal!”

Vocabulary:

Ice Age: a period of cold temperatures across the planet lasting thousands of years
Megafauna: large animals, many of which died out during the last Ice Age
Domestication: the process of taming an animal to keep it as a pet or on a farm
Recede: to go or move backward
Offspring: the child of a person or animal

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