The Egg – a short story for English reading comprehension

This is a short story that you can use in your English class for reading. It is about a boy who finds an egg and takes it home. Then something strange happens.

This is a complete lesson that includes the story itself, a list of reading comprehension questions and discussion questions. The reading level is around intermediate or higher.

I would like to know what you think of this short story and if it was useful in your class. Let me know in the comments below!

 


 

The Egg

 

He found it in the small copse of trees on the edge of town.

A small blue egg that he put in his pocket and took it home. Now it belonged to him. There were signs around the area reminding people to respect nature, to be aware of the laws and local by-laws.

One of them said that the taking of birds eggs was considered theft and carried with it a hefty fine. Maybe even a prison sentence.

But Jake was only ten years old. He was old enough to know that he was doing something illegal. But young enough that he could say he didn’t know. And his mother would protect him no matter what.

He could practically hear her voice now: He is just a child. He didn’t know anything about such laws. What are you going to do? Send him to court?

And he would walk away from it all like it never happened and the next day at school he would be hailed as the local hero. The boy who stood up to the local authorities, the kid who shrugged his shoulders at the police.

Jake took the egg from his pocket. It was heavy. And bigger than any other egg he had seen before. It was the colour he liked best of all — a really light shade of blue. And it had these cool greyish lines across it. The shell felt thick. Like he could smash the egg against the door and it would just bounce back.

He placed it on the floor of his room.

The next day he would take it to school. Wrap it up in some paper and use an old box to protect it.

All the other kids would surely want to have a look. Maybe he could charge money for a peek? Yes, that would be a great idea. He could charge the other kids a little each time. Collect enough money and he could buy something cool with it. Some of those new sports shoes with the flashing lights on. Or a new game. Spider-thon. Or Round House.

Well, whatever he would do with the money, the point was he would be very popular in school tomorrow.

“Jake, what are you doing?”

His mother’s shrill voice calling him for dinner.

He yelled back. One word. That was all she deserved. Why can’t she leave him alone for more than five minutes? That was not too much to ask. He was not like his sister. She couldn’t do anything on her own. Always needed mum to take care of something or other.

“Jake!”

He yelled back again. “I said I’m coming.”

One more minute with the egg. He looked at it and he thought he saw it move. Not the shell but something inside. A fluid movement like a fish was caught inside it. Hey, wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe the egg had a fish instead of a stupid bird. Birds were boring anyway. Fish were cool.

Jake tapped the side of the egg again. This time there was a definite movement. A shadow that moved, a body shape against the inside of the egg.

Jake held his breath. He stared back at the egg waiting for another movement. He reached out, and it moved. The whole egg shifted. Just a fraction but it definitely moved.

Jake pulled his hand away. What was it? What was inside the egg? Birds don’t move like that. At least not the ones he had seen online. In science class, the teacher showed a video of ducks. It was boring apart from when one came out of his egg. But it was not like this. The egg in the video was much smaller. And white. This egg was much bigger and —

Wait, what colour was it?

The colour had changed. Jake reminded himself to take a breath and stared hard at the egg. The blue was gone now. It was all grey. But had a glowing light inside. Like the colour of gold.

“Jake, if you don’t come down here right now —”

Jake tried to reply to his mother downstairs but no sound came. His mouth was dry and he could not speak.

The egg moved again. A little circle before shifting over to its side.

Then a crack.

Jake heard it. His sister was watching her stupid kids show on TV, the volume at full blast. Stupid voices of cartoon pigs and sheep singing some stupid song but Jake heard the crack as clear as if there were no other sound at all.

Then a thin line appeared on the egg. Just a tiny little dark edge, no more than a few millimetres. But then another crack and another and the line appeared to grow, right across the egg from top to bottom.

Whatever was inside the egg, Jake would take it to school. He could probably charge extra now the bird was out of the egg. More money meant more games, more cool things to buy.

Another large crack and a claw appeared. There were sharp talons at the end of the claw. They looked sharp and dangerous. Then a wet flap of flesh slithered out of the hole. The skin was very thin, supported by three small bones across one side of it. It stretched out and flapped in the air.

Jake had never seen a wing like it. Birds had feathers, but this was all skin. On the wing endless rows of small beads of flesh. Just like a fish.

Then in one deft movement, the egg cracked open in half.

The thing inside it crawled out and shook itself into life. It opened its mouth and a small hiss came out.

Jake stared back at it and the creature, in turn, stared at Jake.

This was no bird. It had wings, but no bird looked like this. And it was bigger than a bird. It was bigger than the actual size of the egg itself.

It hissed at him again and stretched. It’s whole body the size of next door’s cat. The creature shook its head and then got on all four legs. Its tail whipped behind it and it spread its two wings out to their full span. Now bigger than next door’s cat.

Jake crawled back, back to the door.

The creature opened its mouth and a plume of fire came out. It looked back at Jake and hissed again.

“Mum,” called Jake. “Mum!”

 


 

Reading Comprehension Questions

 

Where did Jake find the egg?

Can you describe the appearance of the egg when he first found it?

What do the local laws say about stealing eggs?

What was the punishment?

Was Jake concerned about this? Why not?

Describe the egg when Jake got back to his room. How is it different?

What did Jake plan to do with the egg?

Why is his mother calling him?

What does Jake think about it?

What does Jake think is inside the egg?

Describe the movement that he saw inside the egg.

Had Jake seen a bird hatching from an egg before? Where?

How has the colour of the egg changed?

What sound can Jake hear from the egg?

When the egg cracks open, what does Jake see first?

When the creature comes out of the egg, what sound does it make?

Is the creature bigger or smaller than the egg?

Describe Jake’s feeling at the end of the story.

 


 

Vocabulary

 

Go through all the story and find any new or difficult words and phrases.

Look these words and phrases up in your dictionary and make a note of them in your vocabulary notebook.

Write down the meaning of all the words and phrases.

Now try to use these words and phrases in sentences of your own.


Discussion Questions

 

What came out of the egg?

How is it possible for a creature like this to exist in the modern world?

Do you think the creature could be dangerous? How should it be treated?

If you found a very large egg while out walking somewhere, what would you do with it?

What do you think of Jake’s behaviour? Do you think he is a good boy? Explain your thoughts.

Do you think Jake gets into trouble at school? Why/why not?

If Jake had taken the egg to school the next day, what do you think could happen?

The story ends suddenly. What do you think happens next? Try to think of several possible next steps.

If you were in Jake’s situation at the end of the story, what would you do next?

Is there a lesson that the story is trying to teach us? What is it?

What strange things have people found recently in the world? How does science explain them? Can science explain everything in this world?

What unknown phenomenon do you think science cannot explain?

Is there a myth or folktale of some unexplained creature in your country’s culture? Tell the class.


Did your students find this story interesting? Was the lesson useful to you?

Let me know in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “The Egg – a short story for English reading comprehension”

  1. Thanks for the story it is very intriguing and appropriate as a reading practice. Best of all it keeps the reader in suspense until the end! It also has a surprise ending or an unexpected creature that comes out of the egg. Nice lesson

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