The Reading Hour

By: Debbie Taborn


Winter’s Way

By Debbie Taborn

What a cold, cold day it was... Miranda looked out of her kitchen window at the blowing wind and bending branches. The white powdery snow was falling like sugar in her cereal bowl.

“I wish I could go out to play.”

Her mother was cooking warm corncakes on the stove and boiling water for tea. It smelled wonderful.

“Miranda get the syrup for the corncakes.”

“OK mommy,” Miranda said, looking back at the window as she went to the food cabinet.

Miranda thought, “If it were spring, I would be playing Tag. If it were summer, I would be splashing in the garden hose. If it were fall, I would be jumping in the leaves, but it’s too cold to have any fun in the winter.”

Her mom put the plates and cups on the table. Her mother had a very fancy tablecloth, she bought when she had visited Mexico.

Miranda and her mom sat at the table and began to eat their corncakes.

“So Miranda, did I ever tell you about your grandpa who lives far away?”

They talked and Miranda laughed at the funny stories about Grandpa Hector.

Soon the corncakes were gone. They drank their last cup of tea. Miranda did not want to stop talking and laughing... She sat and thought for a moment...

“Oh! Now I know what is the good part of winter! Spending time with YOU!”

“Ah Miranda. I guess you are right. That is winter’s way…bringing families together.”

They smiled quietly as they cleared the table and put away the dishes.

“Tomorrow I will make a warm stew.”

The Biggest Snowflake Ever

By Debbie Taborn

Aaron was excited to see the snow falling so fast. It was piling up very quickly. He knew that soon he would be outside, sliding, jumping leaping and diving in the snow.

When the snow stopped, Aaron put on his coat, hat, gloves and boots.

“Today I’m going to make the biggest snowball ever.”

He gathered a scoop of icy snow and cupped it in his hand. He rolled it around and around to make it very tight. Then he placed the small snowball on the ground and started to push it around in the snow. He walked and pushed and walked and pushed. In ten minutes the little scoop of snow was as big as a basketball.

Aaron kept going, he walked and he pushed the snowball. He pushed it up and down the hill. It was getting harder and harder to push. The snowball was getting bigger and bigger! Soon the snowball was as tall as Aaron. He kept pushing.

His friends Ellis and Jan came over to help. Together they rolled and rolled the snowball. Very quickly it was bigger than Aaron’s dad! The children stopped to rest. They were resting their backs on the snowball. They were no longer looking at the snowball behind them. They didn’t notice the snowball was starting to roll.

Suddenly they heard a sound. The snowball was rolling down the hill! They had to run to get out of the way. “Whoa!” they yelled… “Run, run, run!” they shouted out. The snowball was at their heels. They ran the fastest they had EVER run, but is was no use.

The snowball was rolling faster than they could run. It was going to roll right over them. They would be frozen in this giant snowball! Would anyone ever find them? Would they melt in the spring? Just as the snowball touched the back of Aaron’s boot…

“Aaron…wake up son, his dad called.

Aaron opened his eyes wide, and ran to the window. “It must have been a dream!” he thought.

Just as Aaron turned away from the window, he noticed the tiniest, whitest, fluffiest snowflake, floating past his window…and then another…and another.

A wide grin came across his face and he rushed to get dressed. “I think I’m going to need my gloves today.”

Chasing Chickens

By Debbie Taborn

Beatrice always visited her grandparents in the summer. Their farm was in the beautiful hills of Maryland. It would take two long hours to ride in the family car. Beatrice would read books, draw pictures, sing songs and eat snacks along the way.

This summer Beatrice was really excited about visiting her grandparents because she knew Grandpa had hatched some new baby chicks. She loved to chase the chickens back and forth, all day long. They ran all over the yard and fluttered and squawked.

As soon as her family pulled up to the farmhouse, Beatrice jumped out and ran to see her grandparents. She told them how happy she was to be there for two weeks.

As soon as she was turning to go out into the barnyard, it started to rain. How disappointed she was. She pulled out her drawing paper and crayons and started to draw. As she was drawing, she came up with a great idea.

“I know!” she thought. “The chickens can have a birthday party! I’ll make paper hats and special corn kernel cakes.”

Beatrice worked all morning. She used all the colors in her crayon box. She took lots of colored string from her grandmother’s sewing box to make the hats for each chickens’ head. She put butter, flour and sugar in a bowl. The she stirred in all the corn kernels she could find. Her Grandma Della cooked them in the oven.

When she finished, the rain had stopped. She made 4 paper hats and 4 corn kernel cakes. The corn cakes smelled wonderful. Beatrice ran out to the barnyard and started to chase the chickens for the party.

At first the chickens were running everywhere trying to get away from Beatrice. She kept chasing them, giggling as they ran. Suddenly the chickens smelled the corn kernel cakes. They turned around and started to chase Beatrice! They jumped and fluttered all around her.

“Yikes” she whispered and started to back away. The chickens ran to her faster and faster. They started to peck at the colored strings. They started to fly up towards the smell of the corn kernel cakes.

“Oh no,” Beatrice cried out as she fell backwards over a rock in the barnyard.

The chickens jumped on her head. They pecked at the corn cakes in her hands. They all started to squawk loudly. Beatrice rolled around on the ground over and over until she crawled away to the fence.

Finally, she got out. Poor Beatrice, her hair was a mess, with straw, corn cakes, feathers and pieces of paper.

The chickens were very happy. They ate ALL the corn kernel cakes without even a “Thank you” to Beatrice for the wonderful treat.

When her grandparents came outside to see what all the noise was about, they chuckled, “Well Beatrice, I guess your chicken chasing days are over.”

They all laughed together.


By Debbie Taborn

Marvin Harper was the most popular boy at Maxwell Elementary. He was a great ball player and marble shooter. All the children at Maxwell Elementary loved to play marbles. They played every day during recess. The winner of each game won an extra marble from the loser. The winner would add the new marble to their collection. Marvin had 14 marbles in his collection.

Marvin had been practicing all week. He was able to shoot his marble in a straight line or make it turn. He could make his marble go to the left or the right. He could make his marble “jump” over the other player’s marble. He was ready for a challenge.

The red and gold starlight marble belonged to Johnny Willows. It was the most valuable marble of all. Johnny was a quiet boy with few friends. Johnny had five younger brothers and sisters. His lunches were always the same, peanut butter. Sometimes his clothes had little holes in them. He loved playing marbles too. Johnny was really good. That’s how he won the red and gold starlight.

Marvin really wanted to win today. It was his last chance to win before summer. He asked Johnny to play a game with him. Johnny agreed.

Soon there was a crowd around Marvin and Johnny. Some cheered for Johnny but most cheered for Marvin.

Finally, Johnny took his last shot. Then it was Marvin’s turn. This was Marvin’s last chance to win the sparkling red and gold starlight…Marvin’s mouth was dry. His hands were moist. He pressed his lips together and let the marble go… It rolled and rolled for what seemed like a long time. CLINK! It hit and it won!!! The crowd of children cheered. Now Marvin had 14 marbles and the starlight marble made 15!

Johnny and Marvin shook hands. The bell rang. Recess was over.

Back in the classroom, Marvin noticed Johnny kept removing his glasses and wiping his eyes. Marvin thought about all the marbles he had in his bag. He thought about all the wonderful basketball trophies he had won. It seemed to Marvin like the only special thing Johnny ever had was that starlight marble.

The bell rang and the school year was over. Everyone ran out the door. Marvin ran up to Johnny and tapped him on the shoulder.

“You know what I was thinking Johnny? Let’s wait until next year and have The Best 2 out of 3 Play-Off! That way I can practice more all summer. What do you think?”

Johnny’s face brightened, “Well if that’s what you want”. Marvin handed the starlight marble back to Johnny. As Marvin handed the marble to him, Johnny grabbed his hand and shook it. “See you in September my friend.” They both walked away with a smile.

Questions to Think About

• Why do you think Marvin Harper gave the starlight marble back to Johnny Wilows?

• How do you think Johnny felt about Marvin after he gave him the marble back?

Ashambo’s Fire

By Debbie Taborn

Ashambo lived in a small village on the water’s edge. It was a very beautiful place with green trees, colorful shells and bright flowers. She loved everything about her home. She loved the smell of warm breads cooking. She loved the delicious meals her mother cooked. Ashambo could even cook, though she was only 10 years old.

This day Ashambo was preparing sweet cakes for this evening’s “Fire”. There was always a very large “celebration fire” whenever one of the village boys had performed an act of strength or courage.

Tonight her friend Omar was celebrating his big catch of 25 fish. It took strength and courage to stay out all day and keep fishing, into the night.

Ashambo asked her mother, “Why do only the boys have “Fires?” Her mother replied, “Boys do many things that take great courage and strength.

“I can do that too,” Ashambo whispered.

“But you are going to be a wonderful cook, and prepare great meals for our neighbors.”

“I think I can do both!” she grinned, looking into her mother’s eyes. Her mother smiled gently at her little daughter and went back to her cooking.

Later the next night… Ashambo tipped out of her house and into the sugar cane field. She picked up a heavy axe from the shed. She started to chop slowly, then faster and faster. One hour went by. Two, then three hours passed, until the sun was starting to rise in the morning sky. Ashambo wiped the sweat from her brow. She started to run home.

When she arrived home, she called, “Mom! Dad! Come see!”

Her parents ran to Ashambo’s side and followed her back to the sugar cane field. When they came to the edge of the field they stopped! They could not believe their eyes.

“Ashambo! What have you done? Did you clear the whole cane field and lay these beautiful stacks of cane?”

Ashambo smiled broadly, “Yes, and I still have time to cook breakfast!”

Her parents looked at each other and said, “That took much strength and courage”. They whispered to each other and nodded.

One week later, the people of Ashambo’s village knocked on her door. When she opened the door, everyone started to clap and smile and thank her for her work. One person was carrying a very, very large bundle of sticks.

Everyone shouted, “Tonight is your night Ashambo! Tonight will be

Ashambo’s Fire!

As the huge fire burned, everyone could see the bright light on Ashambo and her family. They were very proud and happy. Ashambo was a strong and courageous girl.
The Climb

By Debbie Taborn

It was a long, long way to the top, but sam was determined. He dug deep into the bark of the tree to get a good grip. When he felt steady, he pulled himself up with all his strength. He looked up again and lifted his other leg. Over and over again he would grip and pull, grip and pull.

Some people would think, "How can he do that?". Children on the sidewalk, playground and even in their backyards would watch.

Sometimes Sam would even move from one side of the tree to the other. Every now and then he would stop and catch his breath. Then he would keep going higher and higher, gripping and pulling, gripping and pulling.

Sam was really high up now. The people on the ground were beginning to look smaller and smaller. He was not afraid. He had done this many times before.

Every now and then a breeze would blow by. It really felt like that big oak tree was moving. His heart would beat a little faster when that happened. Then he would start again. Sam never quit, higher and higher, gripping and pulling, gripping and pulling.

Sam finally reached one of the highest branches in the tree. He decided to go out on that branch. It looked strong. He eased out. Sam was coming close to the end of the branch! Now little sprouts of baby branches were all around him!

Finally, he was where he wanted to be. He looked beneath him. Everything looked so small, the houses, the parks, the yards, even the people. Sam felt safe. He stopped, reached in his mouth, pulled out an acorn and started to nibble. He twitched his tail from side to side. What a great place to have lunch!

Questions to Think About

• What do you know about Sam at the end of the story that you didn't know in the beginning?

• What other animals do you know that climb trees?
The Boy and the Magic Pillow

By Debbie Taborn, 2012

“It’s time for bed Benjamin!”

“OK, mom.”

Benjamin really didn’t mind bedtime. Really, he liked to go to bed. He would tell his friends he had a “magic pillow”. He called it a magic pillow because when he closed his eyes, many pictures would come into his mind. Sometimes he would see himself as a cowboy, or an astronaut, or even a crocodile…

He laid his head on his pillow, closed his eyes and pictures started to come into his mind. He saw many many trees. Vines, bananas, coconuts and mangoes were hanging around him everywhere. He saw himself high in the air. He was high in a tree. He grabbed one of the vines and before he knew it, he was sailing across the tops of the trees. As Benjamin turned to look behind him he saw something long, brown and curled…IT WAS A TAIL!!! “I’m a monkey!”

He jumped on to a tree and scampered up. This was great fun. He could go anywhere by grabbing a vine. He felt like he could touch the sky. “Whee!” he yelled out. He reached out and grabbed a tasty banana and ate it quickly.

Finally Benjamin saw something shiny on the field nearby. He was curious. He left the treetops and hurried down to the floor of the jungle and all the way out into the field of high grass… He looked. It was only a shiny bug crawling home from work. Benjamin was heading back to the trees when suddenly…POUNCE!… In front of him was a huge LION!! The lion was frowning at him and licking his sharp teeth. Benjamin started to back up slowly, the lion started coming closer and closer. Bejamin turned and ran as fast as he could. The lion kept coming, running faster and faster. Benjamin started screaming, “ Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh”…

The lion was getting closer. If only Benjamin could get back to the trees…He ran faster than he had ever run before. Just as he was reaching for the branch of a tree, he felt the hot breath of the lion on his heel….

“Benjamin!” mom called, “It’s time to get up. Do you want your favorite cereal today?”

“Oh no mom….NO Banana Crunchies for me!”