simple reads

This is for more advanced students.  These things are from Voice of America Learning English and The Smithsonian.  The words in these stories will not be very difficult.   These are basic but not easy things to read.

You can find some history, American culture, and literature here.

Times in plain english

The Times in Plain English is a free online newspaper that features stories based on articles from the New York Times and other top American newspapers. 'Plain' here means 'easy to understand', and the stories are freshly written to reflect the original article as opposed to being an edited version. You can find articles in categories such as Health and Education, Money and Work, Immigration, and Law. The archives go back to February 2011, so there's a wealth of reading material here. A couple of additional features that should be of interest to learners are Translate This Page, and Hear This Page, where you click on highlighted text to hear it read aloud (text-to-speech not real voices, obviously).

A very useful site for learners who find it difficult to read 'real' newspapers and would like something a bit more accessible. The About Us page on the site says that the content "may be reproduced and distributed by all", which is good news for teachers worried about copyright issues (some are!).

Wed, Nov 29, 2017, Continue reading at the source
The Weinstein Company planned to release its new film The Current War in the United States this week. But the opening has been delayed until next year. Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein heads the company, and he is accused of sexually harassing and assaulting several women in Hollywood. The film stars Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch. He plays light bulb inventor Thomas Edison who clashes with industrialist George Westinghouse in the early 20th century. Edison prefers direct electrical current while Westinghouse, played by Michael Shannon, wants to use the more dangerous alternating current. Originally, the two men wanted to work together, but Edison received a lot of investment money from the world's richest man, J.P. Morgan, and decided to work alone. Westinghouse and Edison became enemies, fighting over the future of electricity. Benedict Cumberbatch says that he played the role of Edison because it was a great challenge. “That's kind of an exciting chapter of history no matter who you're playing in it and I just thought it's a challenge to play such a titanic figure in American culture and I like a challenge.” Michael Shannon says he tried to play Westinghouse as a complex character and not let him become a great egoist. “For every success they had, they had a failure and it wasn't always easy.” In addition to Edison and Westinghouse, the film features the life of Nicola Tesla, a former assistant to Edison who goes on to work for Westinghouse. Actor Nicolas Hoult plays Tesla. Hoult says that Tesla believed that everyone had a right to use electrical power and it would change the world dramatically. As a character, he adds, Tesla is interesting to play because he was often poor, but was always well dressed. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has received some criticism for his use of special effects and odd camera angles. He [...]
Sat, Nov 25, 2017, Continue reading at the source
We present the short story "Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen," by O. Henry. The story was originally adapted and recorded by the U.S. Department of State. There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all Americans go back to the old home and eat a big dinner. Bless the day. The President gives it to us every year. Sometimes he talks about the people who had the first Thanksgiving. They were the Puritans. They were some people who landed on our Atlantic shore. We don't really remember much about them. But those people ate a large bird called turkey on the first Thanksgiving Day. So we have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, if we have enough money to buy turkey. That is a tradition. Yes. Thanksgiving Day is the one day of the year that is purely American. And now here is the story to prove to you that we have old traditions in this new country. They are growing older more quickly than traditions in old countries. That is because we are so young and full of life. We do everything quickly. Stuffy Pete sat down on a seat in the New York City park named Union Square. It was the third seat to the right as you enter Union Square from the east. Every Thanksgiving for nine years he had sat down there at one in the afternoon. Every time, things had happened to him. They were wonderful things. They made his heart feel full of joy—and they filled another part of him, too. They filled the part below his heart. On those other Thanksgiving Days he had been hungry. (It is a strange thing. There are rich people who wish to help the poor. But many of them seem to think that the poor are hungry only on Thanksgiving Day.) But today Pete [...]
Fri, Nov 24, 2017, Continue reading at the source
An exhibit in London is offering music lovers a chance to see over 200 items once owned by the recording artist known as Prince. The show is called “My Name is Prince.” It follows his long career in the music industry. Among the personal possessions are special made-to-order guitars, notepads of handwritten song lyrics and some of the clothing Prince wore in his music videos and films. The musician died of an accidental drug overdose of powerful painkilling drugs in 2016. He was only 57 years old. But organizers said he had played a part in making preparations for the exhibition. Angie Marchese is director of archives at Paisley Park, Prince's home and production house in the American state of Minnesota. She said, “Prince started planning back in the early 2000s to open Paisley Park up for tours – literally writing the first script.” Marchese added that organizers hoped to give visitors a chance to see more of the musician's private side. “Who he was as the friend, the bandmate, the brother. We hope to kind of tell a little bit of that story as well,” she said. Among the items on display is the purple suit that Prince wore on the cover of his 1984 album “Purple Rain.” His famous “cloud” guitar and a large collection of high-heeled shoes are also part of the show. The exhibit can be seen at The O2 Arena in South-East London. In 2007, he performed 21 times in the arena. A total of about 450,000 people attended those performances. The exhibition has the approval of Prince's surviving relatives. His sister, Tyka Nelson, had an emotional experience on her first visit. “I didn't make it 10-15 steps before I started crying and had to go back out,” she said. “It was hard.” Prince sold over 100 million records during a 40-year career. He won seven Grammy [...]
Fri, Nov 24, 2017, Continue reading at the source
We present the short story “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry. This story was adapted for VOA Learning English by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Lawan Davis. Here is Shep O'Neal with the story. It looked like a good thing. But wait till I tell you. We were down south, in Alabama – Bill Driscoll and myself – when this kidnapping idea struck us. There was a town down there, as flat as a pancake, and called Summit. Bill and I had about $600. We needed just $2,000 more for an illegal land deal in Illinois. We chose for our victim -- the only child of an influential citizen named Ebenezer Dorset. He was a boy of 10, with red hair. Bill and I thought that Ebenezer would pay a ransom of $2,000 to get his boy back. But wait till I tell you. About 2 miles from Summit was a little mountain, covered with cedar trees. There was an opening on the back of the mountain. We stored our supplies in that cave. One night, we drove a horse and carriage past old Dorset's house. The boy was in the street, throwing rocks at a cat on the opposite fence. “Hey little boy!” says Bill. “Would you like to have a bag of candy and a nice ride?” The boy hits Bill directly in the eye with a piece of rock. That boy put up a fight like a wild animal. But, at last, we got him down in the bottom of the carriage and drove away. We took him up to the cave. The boy had two large bird feathers stuck in his hair. He points a stick at me and says: “Ha! Paleface, do you dare to enter the camp of Red Chief, the terror of the plains?” “He's all right now,” says Bill, [...]
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, Continue reading at the source