Pre Test Reading Selection

"Gee, Grandma, is this the little park you told Grandpa about?" Jack asked, obviously disappointed.

"It's so small, Grandma, an' there's only one seesaw an' four little swings," added five-year-old Linda, equally disappointed. "An' everything's sort of dusty and old."

"Darlings, this is only an old, tiny park in an old part of the city. See?" She directed their attention about them, waving her hands in the direction of the ancient tenements, old stores, and narrow, winding streets. "I told you about it on the drive down, remember?"

Miriam gazed about her nostalgically, fully aware that her emotions were coloring what she saw. Feelings of warmth and longing grew within her.

"Next week they're going to start tearing it all down," she went on, almost in a whisper. "They'll be erecting tall buildings everywhere. There'll be a skyscraper where this park is now."

"Gosh, Grandma, that's going to be some job," marveled Jack. Then he turned his eyes on his grandmother and said, "I remember now—you told us once—about the time you lived here when you were a little girl." A questioning intensity was in his high, clear voice, "Did you come here today to remember or something?"

Yes, she thought, I did come here to remember

Miriam was humming a light, bouncy tune from "The Mikado."

She became aware that she was disturbing a man seated alone on a bench facing hers. It upset and angered her because she felt he was actually seated far enough away not to be disturbed by her barely audible humming. But he had been—his dark scowl and poorly restrained mutterings attested to that.

Miriam stopped and forced herself to sit on, glumly, for another ten minutes. I'm not going to let that unkempt, surly character drive me away from my bench, my park!

After what seemed an hour instead often minutes, Miriam stalked past the man, her manner openly scornful and defiant. He never raised his dark head from the soft covered, dull-looking book he was reading.

The next Sunday, Miriam found her bench was again invaded. This time the man approached her. "S-sorry, Miss, I w-wouldn't blame you if you think I'm some kind of nut," the fellow muttered, repeatedly smoothing his unruly black hair, "but I want to apologize for the way I acted last week. Please excuse me. I'll go now."

To Miriam's surprise, she heard herself murmer, "You don't have to. Not on my account." She noted with amazement how handsome he really was once he stopped scowling and looking grim.

"Are you from around here?" "Yes. I live with my parents, two brothers and " "I think I ought to introduce myself."

The following hour's conversation started in a slow, probing manner, with both speaking in low, soft voices. Within a half-hour they happily discovered how compatible they were as they discussed—as extensively as they could in such a short time—books, art, music and musicians. Miriam was delighted to learn that they both loved animals and trees and all the other toys of infatuation.

The following three months were joyous ones. Miriam and Bob met almost every Sunday. Soon they were meeting Wednesday or Friday night for dinner in some Italian, French, or Chinese restaurant. In between were the Automat, Schrafft's, and Jewish delicatessens.

They would follow dinner with a good movie, or the theatre if at all possible. Sometimes though, they simply walked up Fifth Avenue, talking, laughing and holding hands, stopping occasionally for a cup of coffee or a drink. Repeatedly they told one another, they knew they were meant for each other.

Then one warm Sunday afternoon at their little park Bob began, "Miriam, try to understand what I'm going to say. I've never mentioned that I'm committed to a cause. You must realize there's nothing I can do about the commitment. I made it months ago, long before I ever met you."

"You see, I belong to the Communist Party and—well—I'm already close to being a traitor in their opinion, and that definitely is verboten in the Party. It wasn't by accident, or birth, that the great Stalin took that word as his party name. It means 'steel'."

Miriam shuttered and stammered out, "Didn't you tell me how glad and grateful you were to meet me—that you'll never leave me?"

After a while he said deliberately, "You must listen calmly, Miriam. I'm going to keep my promise. It's a promise about Spain and their Civil War. Hate it or not, I've got to go and help." He sighed and smiled in bitter resignation. "I've got to. There's just no changing with the Party. Only their goals matter."

After that Sunday, Miriam sat alone in her little park; sat there as one frozen, except for her heart and spirit which were always forlorn and in pain. Bob had left. His grim commitment was irrevocable. The pretty little park was not very pretty.

On a Sunday almost a year later, she had the first and last bit of news about her beloved. A friend of his furtively entered the park, whispered to her that Bob would not be returning from Spain, then fled out of sight, as if pursued.

"Grandma, aren't we going home soon?" Miriam heard Jack ask, as from a great distance. With a start she opened her eyes and saw the children running to her.

"Grandpa will start worrying about us," Linda chimed in.

Miriam arose with a soft sigh and murmured, "I've remembered, dear. Goodbye."

Then she held out her arms to her grandchildren and kissed them. "I'm sorry I lost track of time, darlings," she told them. She took each child's hand and for a fleeting second hesitated, looked back and then walked slowly out of the little park. "Yes—of course we're going home. We wouldn't want Grandpa, even for a moment, to think we don't appreciate and love him dearly."

Helping Your Child Learn To Read

Helping Your Child Learn To Read

When parents help their children learn to read, they help open the door to a new world. As a parent, you can begin an endless learning chain: You read to your children, they develop a love of stories and poems, they want to read on their own, they practice reading, and finally they read for their own information or pleasure. They become readers, and their world is forever expanded and enriched.

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