Swimming Lessons
Reading Comprehension Activity

This passage is about a girl who is embarrassed about learning something new. Students will answer questions about details, character, plot, comparing and contrasting, and cause and effect.

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Devi looked through the observation window at the kids below, all waiting in line to get into the pool. She turned to her mother with an anguished scowl on her face. “Mom, they’re all little kids! This is ridiculous!”

 “I know, Devi,” replied her mother, “but you’re a beginner, too, and you have to start somewhere!”

Devi had never been to a swimming lesson in her life. Between schoolwork and helping on her grandfather’s farm, she hadn’t had time for lessons. The closest Devi had been to a swimming pool was the inflatable alligator pool her mother bought her when she was five. Now that Devi was older, her mother had found a new job in the city, and Devi faced a new challenge-school field trips to the local pool.

The first day that Devi went with her class to the pool, she had no idea what she was in for. What could be so difficult about swimming? Devi confidently slipped into the water and held onto the side of the pool, expecting to be able to touch the bottom with her feet. But when Devi let go of the side of the pool, she slipped under the water-the whole pool was one big deep end! Devi flung her arm toward the side of the pool and grabbed the cement ledge, gasping for air and hiccupping. “I really can’t swim, and I can’t even improvise! Everyone’s going to laugh at me!” she thought to herself in a panic. 

On the next field trip to the pool, Devi sat on the side on a bench, paralyzed with fear. She huddled with a towel over her shoulders, too embarrassed to try again. When she came home, her mother noticed right away that Devi was upset. “Honey, I made a call to the local pool, and you start lessons this weekend, so you’ll learn how to swim just like everyone else,” she assured Devi. 

Devi felt doubtful that lessons would help, but she had to overcome her fear. Still, when the time came to take her first lesson, Devi was even more embarrassed than before, because the younger kids all jumped into the pool like fish leaping into the ocean. Devi felt a knot forming in the pit of her stomach and thought, “I’m 13, and I’m more scared of the water than they are-this is hopeless!”

Devi slowly walked to the side of the pool and sat down with her legs dangling in the water. The instructor came over to where she sat and said, “Hi, Devi! I’m Angela, your swimming instructor. I’ll bet you feel a little strange here with all these young kids, right?” Devi nodded her head silently, flushing with embarrassment. “You know what, Devi?” Angela said reassuringly. “I didn’t learn to swim until I was 20 years old, and now I’m a teacher!” 

Devi was astonished. “Wow! Didn’t you feel stupid, learning next to all the kids?”

 “Of course I did,” Angela said with a grin. “But I really wanted to swim, and I’ll bet you do, too. Soon enough, you’ll be swimming across the pool like a champion!” 

Just then, a little girl floating next to Devi patted her on the knee and said, “Don’t worry, Devi! I’ll help you!” Devi couldn’t help but smile, realizing that she might never be a fearless swimmer, but she would sure have fun trying.

Comprehension Questions

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