Passages

A Pirate’s Life for Me

Most babies’ first words are something like “Dada” or “Mama” or “ball.”  Mine was “Ahoy!” But that was considered normal when you’re born and raised on a pirate ship. My father was the first mate on the fearsome sailing ship known as the Salty Dog. He was the trusted friend…

Gibraltar

Published in 1869, Mark Twain’s book The Innocents Abroad tells of his trip through Europe and the Mideast in 1867. In this passage, Twain has arrived in Gibraltar, gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. He is taking a tour of Rock of Gibraltar and has already heard the story of the…

Stickeen

Naturalist John Muir went to Alaska in 1879 to explore the area. He was joined by Rev. Young who had a small black dog named Stickeen. Stickeen was a quiet, independent, and intelligent dog. Early one morning Muir went to explore a nearby glacier. Stickeen followed him, and together they…

Pansy Takes a Trip

Anika pulled her wheeled suitcase behind her as she followed her parents through the airport. She looked all around her in the huge building that seemed to be filled with thousands of people. It was going to be her first time on an airplane. She was very excited, and maybe…

Hallowe’en in America

The Book of Hallowe’en was published in 1919 and described Halloween customs around the world. This passage is about how the holiday was celebrated then. —————————————————- While the original customs of Hallowe’en are being forgotten more and more across the ocean, Americans have fostered them, and are making this an…

Mary Chesnut: The Firing on Ft. Sumter

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut (1823-1886) was a prominent woman from South Carolina. Her husband, James Chesnut, was a U.S. Senator before the Civil War. Well-educated, intelligent, and well-connected, Mary understood, as the Civil War began, she had a front row seat to a historic moment in history. She began recording…

Madison Dreams Big

Madison stared through the window and watched a puffy white cloud pass over the woods across from the school. A solitary bird glided, wings stretched, across the sky and seemed to pierce the cloud. It must be wonderful to be a bird, she thought. Just fly across the sky without…

Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones: A World of Difference

Have you ever been watching when a tv weatherperson points to a large, white spiral of storm clouds spinning over the Earth on their video screen? If so, then you’ve gotten a small look at what the most powerful storm in the world looks like: a tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones start as…

Sarah Plants a Seed

At breakfast, Sarah saw that her mother was wearing overalls. That meant that she was planning to work in the garden. “What are you planting today?” asked Sarah. “Today I will plant radishes and carrots,” answered Sarah’s mother. “Would you like to help?” Sarah was happy. She wanted to learn more…

Sword Fight

This passage from Act III, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the sword fight between Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, and Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin. As the scene opens, Mercutio is in the a public square with Benvolio and some servants when Tybalt and his friends arrive. An argument starts,…