50 Short Reading Comprehension Passages

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Passages Worth Assigning
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Passages Worth Assigning


This pack includes 50 short reading comprehension passages in both PDF format and ready-to-assign, self-grading Google Forms quiz. Each passages is approximately 250 words, and includes five multiple choice comprehension questions and an answer key. 40 passages are written at a reading level of Grades 5-7, while 10 “challenge” passages are written at a slightly more advanced level, while still testing students on Grades 5-7 reading skills.

NOTE: This pack contains content from my reading comprehension ten-passage packs (Ten Fascinating STEM Passages, Ten Fascinating History Passages, Ten Conversation-Sparking Passages, and Ten First-Person Narratives).

Conversation-Sparking Passages:

A Virtual Field Trip (Fleisch-Kincaide RL 5)
In this passage, students are introduced to teacher Cayne Letizia, who takes his students on a virtual field trip to a refugee camp in South Sudan. Letizia uses virtual reality goggles to help his students experience the lives of the refugees.

Daily Bread (Fleisch-Kincaide RL 5)
In Daily Bread, students meet photographer Gregg Segal. He takes photographs of kids around the world, surrounded by the food they eat. Segal’s photos are colorful, fun, and often funny, but they also carry a message about healthy eating habits.

A High-Tech Scavenger Hunt (Fleisch-Kincaide RL 5)
In A High-Tech Scavenger Hunt, students learn about the new outdoor sport of geocaching. Geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt, in which players explore new places in search of hidden treasure using the map software on their smartphone.

A Sweet Miracle (Fleisch-Kincaide RL 5)
It’s known as “miracle fruit”: a fruit with incredible taste-changing properties. This fruit makes sour foods taste sweet for a short time after eating it. Could miracle fruit make diets a thing of the past?

Drone Builders (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Are your students crazy about drones? In Drone Builders, students will learn how engineering and test-flying drones can become a career.

The Human Camera (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
In this true account of an artistic genius, readers learn about Stephen Wiltshire. Wiltshire can draw entire cities from memory. Wiltshire is also a person with autism. Use The Human Camera as a way to kick-start a conversation about learning differences. 

Wakaliwood (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Isaac Nabwana is man who refuses to be held back by his circumstances. Despite being born into poverty in Uganda, he has become a world-famous YouTube filmmaker. Wakaliwood will inspire a conversation about privilege and motivation in your classroom.

Mobile Money (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
For the two billion people across the world who do not have access to banks, a new solution has appeared as a result of advances in technology. It is called “mobile money,” and it brings access to banking services to poor people. Spark a discussion about the privileges we take for granted with Mobile Money. 

Ransomware (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Ransomware: it will shut down your computer and threaten to delete your files unless you send money to an online address. Kickstart a conversation about online safety and the downsides of technology with Ransomware. 

A Unique Solution to Traffic (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
In Jakarta, Indonesia, a group of people have taken it upon themselves to deal with the city’s traffic problem. They are called Pak Ogah, and they work as unofficial traffic police in exchange for tips. But not everybody appreciates the Pak Ogah. What should a society do when people cannot find jobs?

First-Person Narratives:

Tough Love (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Our narrator is the son of a hard-working father with strict rules. As he grows older, the narrator learns to see his father in a different light. This passage is a great way to begin a conversation about perspective and point of view. 

Dining in the Dark (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Would you eat something you couldn’t see? Believe it or not, there are restaurants based on this very idea! Our narrator visits one such restaurant in Dining in the Dark.

Wuz Yer Name? (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
A shy third grader befriends a girl who is her opposite in every way. Explore character traits and contrasting personalities in Wuz Yer Name?

Struggling to Speak (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
We all teach students who face challenges in communicating. In Struggling to Speak, a person who stutters tells his story and explains how he would like to be treated by others. 

A Rose for Ellen (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
This is a simple story that will spark a profound conversation about point of view in your classroom. In A Rose for Ellen, a granddaughter discovers a gift that causes her to see her grandmother in an entirely new light.

The Sign Language Class (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
In The Sign Language Class, a student begins a new class taught by a teacher who does not speak. This passage can serve as a great introduction to a conversation about physical disabilities and learning differences. 

The Drive to Win (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
Are your students passionate athletes? Spark a debate about the difference between talent and drive using this reading passage, which contrasts two types of players from the point of view of a basketball coach.

A Little Piece of Home (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
Driving a truck for a living can be a lonely job. In this passage, a long-distance truck driver explains how he finds a piece of home in the comforting environment of the roadside diner. 

The Best Job in the World (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
The narrator is an ethnomusicologist who studies the music of Ecuador. Learn about her fascinating career in The Best Job in the World. Afterward, lead a discussion with your students about the pros and cons of the jobs they are familiar with. 

A Rewarding Job (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
We want to inspire our students to not only be future voters, but also future leaders! Explore the work of a person elected to be town councilor from her perspective in A Rewarding Job.

The Secret Ingredient (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Grandma is famous throughout the neighborhood for her delicious cooking. Our narrator suspects that a secret ingredient is the key to her wonderful meals. She watches Grandma carefully as she cooks in order to find out her secret. 

The Most Important Job (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Federico’s Laundromat is a family business, and everyone has to pitch in to keep it running. But the narrator of this reading passage doesn’t like his job at the laundromat – that is, until he learns a very important lesson. 

The Great White (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Our narrator is terrified to ride The Great White, her first rollercoaster. She tries to control her emotions as she waits in line, but the closer she gets to the front of the line, the more her fear grows… 

Imaginary Languages (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
The narrator of this reading passage has an odd hobby. She invents imaginary languages! But as we will learn, our narrator is not the only one with this strange hobby. 

Training Daisy (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Skyler and Kenny have worked hard to train their dog Daisy to be a service dog. Today is the day of her big service dog exam. Did she pass?

Moving Day (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
The narrator is excited to move to a new home. But as he explores his strange and unfamiliar new house, he learns that sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone! 

Summer in Managua (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
The narrator’s home is snowy Buffalo, New York, but her parents are from sunny Nicaragua. When she visits her family home for the summer, the narrator sees a different side of her parents. This passage is a great conversation starter for bilingual classes! 

Trash Patrol (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
The narrator and his sister have an odd summertime hobby. They go on “trash patrol,” collecting discarded electronics to dissect in their garage. 

My Odd Upbringing (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
The narrator of My Odd Upbringing comes from strange family. Not only did she grow up on a houseboat, but her father once made a solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean in a homemade ship. 

A Highly Unique Career (Flesch-Kincaid RL 8)
“My career is highly unique,” begins the narrator. “I use a specialized skill set that took me an entire lifetime to learn. I can earn thousands of dollars in a single day, and the tools of my trade can fit into a single briefcase.” What is he? Read on to find out!

History Passages:

Sojourner Truth (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
The story of Sojourner Truth is an inspiring example of what one determined person can accomplish in the face of adversity. Born a slave, Sojourner Truth was the first African American woman to ever win a court case against a white man. She went on to fight for the abolishment of slavery. 

America’s Polymath (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Benjamin Franklin was more than a Founding Father. He was America’s greatest polymath: a scientist, writer, inventor, politician, and musician. Learn more about this incredible figure in America’s Polymath. 

Silent Music (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Many people know that Ludwig von Beethoven lost his hearing. But few know about the brilliant, yet simple invention that helped him to “hear” his symphonies without the use of his ears. 

Kwame Nkrumah (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
If your curriculum’s civil rights unit only covers the United States, consider expanding your students’ horizons with the study of African civil rights leaders. One great starting point is the story of Ghanaian national hero Kwame Nkrumah. 

A Historical Myth (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Did Christopher Columbus’ crew really fear that they might sail off the edge of the earth? Dispel some popular myths about history with this fun reading comprehension passage.

The Game of Twenty Squares (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
One man’s dream of playing a lost board game from ancient Sumer comes true after decades of work. Learn how in The Game of Twenty Squares!

The Great Emu War (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
The Great Emu War may be the most embarrassing defeat ever suffered by the Australian Army. Find out how a flock of wild emus defeated a fearsome military force, complete with machine guns, in this interesting passage. 

A Book You Can Walk Through (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Borobudur is an ancient temple that teaches through the carvings on its walls. Learn why this wonder of the world was constructed in A Book You Can Walk Through. 

Street Eats (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Street food: it’s the cool new way to eat, but did you know that food carts have been around for thousands of years? Learn what the ancient Greeks, Romans, and others munched on when they were on the go in Street Eats. 

A Wrong Turn Leads to War (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
The most important events in history sometimes come down to coincidence. Learn how a wrong turn by a driver in Sarajevo in 1914 led to the most bloody war the world had ever seen in A Wrong Turn Leads to War.

STEM Passages:

A Solution for Better Sleep (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Are our electronic devices keeping us awake long after we switch them off for the evening? Find out the science behind blue light filters and sleep with A Solution for Better Sleep. 

A Bright Idea (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
In A Bright Idea, students learn about a neat handheld device that makes water safe to drink. This passage is a great supplement to science units on light and wavelength, or social studies units on natural resources and clean water access. 

Jadav’s Forest (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
In a small forest hut outside a tiny village in eastern India lives a man named Jadav Payeng. He raises cattle, and his only source of income is the milk they produce. But despite his humble life, Jadav is admired across the world. Find out why in Jadav’s Forest. 

The Science of 3D Movies (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
3D movies are a neat form of entertainment, but did you know that the technology behind them has existed for nearly a century? Learn how 3D movies bring images to life in this fascinating science passage. 

Measuring the Earth (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
How big is the Earth, and how do we know? Amazingly, the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes solved this puzzle over 2,000 years ago! Learn how in Measuring the Earth.

Mr. Trash Wheel (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
The city of Baltimore has a trash problem, but a clever solution is on the way! His name is Mr. Trash Wheel, and he brings smiles to the faces of Baltimore residents while cleaning up the harbor.

Manhattanhenge (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
On a special evening in July, the busy residents of New York City slow down to see an amazing sight. It’s Manhattanhenge: a day when the sun sets directly down the avenues of Manhattan. 

Origami Inspiration (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Origami is a fun pastime, but did you know that it has also inspired amazing innovations in engineering? Explore the relationship between art and STEM in Origami Inspiration.

Extraordinary People (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
We call them prodigies: amazing humans with talents that seem almost magical. Meet Shakuntala Devi, a woman who can do complex math problems in her head and Ray Gillon, a man who speaks eighteen languages, in Extraordinary People. 

Counting Calories (Flesch-Kincaid RL 6)
Most of us give at least a glance to the calorie count on the back of our food labels. But do you know how scientists determine the number of calories in food? The answer is simple: they burn it! Counting Calories is a great supplement to a science unit on energy, matter, and state changes, or a health class.

Total Pages
105 (including table of contents)
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 Semester
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