from Black Boy by Richard Wright
This excerpt from Wright’s Black Boy provides punctuation practice with hyphens and commas, as well as a chance to make students aware of an important biography.
One winter morning in the long-ago, four-year-old days of my life, I found myself standing before a fireplace, warming my hands over a mound of glowing coals, listening to the wind whistle past the house outside. All morning my mother had been scolding me, telling me to keep still, warning me that I must make no noise.
from Black Elk Speaks, as told through John G. Neihardt
My friend, I am going to tell you the story of my life, as you wish; and if it were only the story of my life I think I would not tell it; for what is one man that he should make much of his winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived and shall live that story, to be grass upon the hills.
from Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Sometimes, a dictation excerpt can be a way to promote a classic novel. This excerpt from Moby Dick is a bit gruesome, but in my experience, school children love grisly stories. This short passage offers the opportunity for vocabulary enrichment as well as cultural discussion.
The harpoon was darted; the stricken whale flew forward; with igniting velocity the line ran through the groove; ran foul. Ahab stooped to clear it; he did clear it; but the flying turn caught him round the neck, and voicelessly as Turkish mutes bowstring their victim, he was shot out of the boat, ere the crew knew he was gone, Next instant, the heavy eyesplice in the rope’s final end flew out of the stark-empty tub, knocked down an oarsman, and smiting the sea, disappeared in its depths.