Paul Bunyan, the Biggest Baby in the Northeast
Reading Comprehension Activity

Paul Bunyan is a tall tale that originated through oral stories of North American loggers. His enormous size and strength allowed him to accomplish extraordinary feats. This story tells of his early years. Students will read the story and answer questions on Paul’s size and abilities.

Topic(s): Folklore, Myths & Legends. Skill(s): Summary, Character Traits. Genre(s): Prose

Click for the passage & questions on one printable PDF.


In a small cabin in the northeast wilderness, a huge baby boy was born. His parents named him Paul Bunyan.

“He’s a mighty big baby. The biggest I’ve ever seen in the state of Maine,” said Mama Bunyan. “What will we keep him in?”

Papa Bunyan looked around the cabin then scratched his head. “There’s nothing big enough in here. I’ll look in the barn.”

Before Papa Bunyan got to the barn, he saw two large water boxes that the cows used to drink from. “Hmm. If I put these two boxes together, it should hold baby Bunyan.” He sawed off the end of each water box and dragged them into the house.

“Look Mama. I think this will work.” Papa Bunyan nailed the two water boxes together. “Perfect. A cradle big enough for Paul.”

“But how will you get Paul into the cradle? He’s too big to carry,” said Mama Bunyan.

Papa Bunyan scratched his head. “I know!” Off he ran to the barn. He came back in a flash, pushing a wheelbarrow.

“Mama, you’ll need to help me get Paul into the wheelbarrow. Then we’ll have to roll him into the cradle.”

Mama and Papa Bunyan used all their strength to carefully get Paul into the wheelbarrow. Then they gently rolled him into the large cradle.

“It worked!” cried Mama.

Papa wiped sweat from the back of his neck. “Yes it did. Now we have to get milk to feed him.”

In the barn, Papa milked all ten of their cows. He filled five large buckets and went back to the cabin.

“Here you go, Mama. This should keep him satisfied through the night.”

Mama Bunyan gave Paul a bucket of milk every two hours. Early the next morning, Papa Bunyan had to milk the cows again. Pretty soon, the cows couldn’t keep up with Paul’s big appetite.

“I’ll have to ask the neighbors for help,” said Papa Bunyan. Off he went to all the neighbors in the area.

Soon, everyone heard of the huge baby, Paul Bunyan. Folks from all over came to see him.

As the months passed, Paul grew bigger and bigger and needed more and more food. The family had to get more cows. And they had to buy lots of chickens and plant lots of potatoes to keep Paul fed.

Then the months turned into years. Paul was 7 years old and taller and broader than the largest man in the northeast. And stronger, too.

As a child, Paul was so big and strong he helped his father cut down trees. Paul cut them down quicker and easier than a crew of men.

Soon, the entire northeast knew of the child lumberjack, Paul Bunyan.

“When you get older,” Papa would tell Paul, “you’ll be known from here to the northwest for your size and your amazing feats.”

Comprehension Questions

Get the passage & questions on one printable PDF.

Interactive Banner 2

Enter description text here.