Little helen

Words: 601-700

Skills: Character Traits Main / Central Idea Summary

Grades: 5th 6th 7th 8th

Topics: History

Genres: Biography / Autobiography

Lexile Range: 740L - 1050L

Lexile Measure: 1020L

CCSS: Reading: Informational Text

Themes:

Little Helen


by Helen Keller from The Story of My Life

Chapter II passage: Helen Keller was an extraordinary woman who overcame multiple challenges to become a well-known writer and lecturer. She was born able to see and hear, but as a toddler she became seriously ill. Although she recovered, she lost her hearing and sight. This passage is from her autobiography written in 1903 when she was in her early twenties. After reading the passage, students will answer questions on character traits and the central idea.

Reading Comprehension Passage

Little Helen

by Helen Keller from The Story of My Life
Helen Keller was born in 1880 in Alabama. She had normal hearing and seeing abilities when she was born. However, when she was just 19 months old, she became very sick. After she recovered she could no longer hear or see. In this passage from her autobiography, Helen remembers what it was like to be a small girl in a dark, silent world.

-----------------------------

 I cannot recall what happened during the first months after my illness. I only know that I sat in my mother's lap or clung to her dress as she went about her household duties. My hands felt every object and observed every motion, and in this way I learned to know many things. Soon I felt the need of some communication with others and began to make crude signs. A shake of the head meant "No" and a nod, "Yes," a pull meant "Come" and a push, "Go." Was it bread that I wanted? Then I would imitate the acts of cutting the slices and buttering them. If I wanted my mother to make ice-cream for dinner I made the sign for working the freezer and shivered, indicating cold. My mother, moreover, succeeded in making me understand a good deal. I always knew when she wished me to bring her something, and I would run upstairs or anywhere else she indicated. Indeed, I owe to her loving wisdom all that was bright and good in my long night.

I understood a good deal of what was going on about me. At five I learned to fold and put away the clean clothes when they were brought in from the laundry, and I distinguished my own from the rest. I knew by the way my mother and aunt dressed when they were going out, and I invariably begged to go with them. I was always sent for when there was company, and when the guests took their leave, I waved my hand to them, I think with a vague remembrance of the meaning of the gesture. One day some gentlemen called on my mother, and I felt the shutting of the front door and other sounds that indicated their arrival. On a sudden thought I ran upstairs before any one could stop me, to put on my idea of a company dress. Standing before the mirror, as I had seen others do, I anointed mine head with oil and covered my face thickly with powder. Then I pinned a veil over my head so that it covered my face and fell in folds down to my shoulders, and tied an enormous bustle round my small waist, so that it dangled behind, almost meeting the hem of my skirt. Thus attired I went down to help entertain the company.

I do not remember when I first realized that I was different from other people; but I knew it before my teacher came to me. I had noticed that my mother and my friends did not use signs as I did when they wanted anything done, but talked with their mouths. Sometimes I stood between two persons who were conversing and touched their lips. I could not understand, and was vexed. I moved my lips and gesticulated frantically without result. This made me so angry at times that I kicked and screamed until I was exhausted.

I think I knew when I was naughty, for I knew that it hurt Ella, my nurse, to kick her, and when my fit of temper was over I had a feeling akin to regret. But I cannot remember any instance in which this feeling prevented me from repeating the naughtiness when I failed to get what I wanted.

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. What is something that Helen learns to do that would be hard to do for someone who is blind and deaf?



2. How did Helen try to understand people who were talking?



3. How did Helen signal that she wanted ice cream?



4. Name two character traits you think Helen has based on this passage.