The Elephant Ride
Reading Comprehension Activity

Nancy is excited to go to the circus for the first time. There’s a lot to see, but the most memorable part of her trip involves the biggest animal of all. Students will read the story and answer follow-up questions about character, plot, and setting.

Topic(s): Realistic Fiction. Skill(s): Summary, Story Elements. Genre(s): Prose

Click for the passage & questions on one printable PDF.


Nancy was excited. She could see bright red flags on top of a large tent just across the street. The circus was here!

She held her dad’s hand as they crossed the street. Nancy wanted to run, but that wouldn’t be safe. Instead, she jumped up and down once they reached the sidewalk in front of the tent.

“This is the big top,” said Dad. “Inside we can sit down to watch the show. There will be clowns and animals and magic tricks.”

Nancy smiled. It wasn’t time to go inside the big top yet, so she and Dad had time to walk around the rest of the circus. There was a balloon man and people selling snacks. They turned a corner together, and Nancy saw a big gray elephant.

The elephant was very tall. Even Dad had to look up to see the elephant’s face.

The elephant had a blanket on its back. On top of the blanket was a small seat with a handle.

“Would you like to ride the elephant, Nancy?” Dad asked.

Nancy jumped up and down again. “Oh, yes!” she cried.

Dad gave money to the man in charge of the elephants. Nancy climbed a special staircase so she could reach the top of the elephant’s back. The man helped her onto the special seat. “Hold on tight!” he said.

Slowly, the elephant began to walk in a large circle. Each step made Nancy’s seat rock back and forth. She held tightly to the handle.

She was so high up that she could look down on Dad’s head. She could also see the top of the elephant’s head. It was gray and had some wiry hairs.

Suddenly, the elephant flapped his ears. Nancy laughed. This was fun!

When the elephant got back to the special staircase, Nancy climbed back down to Dad.

“Did you like it?” he asked.

“Yes!” said Nancy. “Can I have an elephant for my birthday?”  

Comprehension Questions

Get the passage & questions on one printable PDF.

Interactive Banner 2

Enter description text here.