On one hand, I’m a little discouraged to find so many reading comprehension worksheets already available on the web, gratis. One site boasts 1000 passages, albeit for K-6th grades. And this is just one of many, many sites devoted to making the teacher’s job a little easier, which is not a bad thing, of course. But I wonder if the worksheets I create and post here are redundant
but no! Most of the resources available seem to be aimed at the lower grades. Thus far I have chosen rather difficult passages from classic literature and the level is advanced. (Perhaps, this will be my niche.) In classic works, you can readily find varied and complex syntax, which students need steady exposure to. In my experience, students seem to have as much trouble with syntax as vocabulary, figurative language, or anything else.
Today’s worksheet is based on the opening paragraph of Stephen Crane’s short novel The Blue Hotel –
A fine paragraph. Probably difficult for even a college student. The student may have to read the paragraph a couple of times to realize that it’s about the rather garish blue color of a hotel, a hotel in the boondies of Nebraska. The first sentence presents an image of a bird, “a kind of heron” whose legs are blue, the same blue color of the hotel. The next sentence
contains two synaesthetic metaphors. Sound imagery “screaming and howling” is used to describe how the hotel looks and similarly the appearance of the winter landscape is described as a “hush.” The worksheet doesn’t ask about this interesting use of figurative language, but teachers might point it out to students. Again, this kind of delving into a text shows students the possibilities of language and hopefully inspire them to produce some complex prose of their own.