Social Studies Reading Comprehension Passages

Browse By Grade:

Browse By Subject:
ELA


  • 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 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 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 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 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 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...