The Storm

Annie and her mom feel alone in their new home. Then a storm changes everything.

By Roland Smith
Lexiles: 470L
Guided Reading Level: J
DRA Level: 16-18
Vocabulary: hurricane, damage, eye of the storm, batter

I’m writing a letter to my dad. He’s away in the Army.

I tell him that I am doing great in Florida. I say that I’m making friends at my new school. I say that Momma likes her new job. I say that we are happy. I end the letter by saying that I miss him and I’m proud of him.

Only the last sentence is true. I’ve made no friends at school. Momma has to work late most nights. We are lonely without him.

A New Home

We just moved here when dad had to leave. He didn’t even get to meet the neighbors. Momma and I haven’t met them either. Momma and I are shy. Daddy’s not.

He’s been gone for six weeks. He won’t be home for a year. I didn’t think life could get much worse. I was wrong. Hurricane Bret was coming.

Wind and Darkness

Momma gets home from work late again. The wind is gusty. I look out the window. The palm trees are swaying. A trash can is rolling down the street.

“Is this a hurricane?” I ask.

“Not yet,” Momma says. “Stay away from the window.”

She starts to cook dinner. Then the power goes out.

The house is dark. We find a flashlight. Momma tries her phone. It is out too.

“Oh, Annie, I guess we’re on our own,” she says.

“I wish Daddy were here.”

“So do I, honey.” she says.


The Eye of the Storm

The wind shakes the house. It is blustery. Somehow I fall asleep on the sofa.

I wake up early the next morning. It’s quiet. Momma is looking out the window.

“Is it over?” I ask.

“Looks like it,” she answers. We step out onto the front porch.

“How is your house? Any damage?” a man asks. “Is it harmed in any way?”

Momma and I jump.

“Who’s there?” I ask.

“Leo Garcia, your neighbor. I’ve been worried about you.”

“We’re fine,” Momma says, “now that the storm is over.”

“Over? The storm’s not over. Not even close,” says Mr. Garcia. “This is the eye of the storm. The winds will pick up again soon. You sure everything’s OK?

“We’re fine,” Momma says.


A Terrible Storm

Mr. Garcia was right. Hurricane Bret gets a lot worse. Momma and I curl up together on the sofa. The wind and rain batter the house. They beat against it.

Something loud slams into the roof. We are too afraid to go upstairs and look. A window breaks in the kitchen.

After the Storm

By afternoon, the storm is over. I put on my dad’s Army coat. Wearing it makes me feel strong. We go outside.

It looks like a giant lawn mower has run over our street. The trees are tipped over. Every window of our house is broken. Half of the roof is gone.

Momma starts to cry. I hug her. I start crying too.


The Neighbors Help

Soon, the neighbors come over. They carry brooms, rakes and trash cans. Mr. Garcia is leading them.

“I’m glad you’re both OK,” Mr. Garcia says.

Momma nods. She can’t seem to talk. I’m afraid that if I don’t say something, the neighbors will go away. I want them to stay.

“Why is everybody here?” I ask Mr. Garcia.

“We’re here to clean up!”

“Everybody?” I ask, looking at Momma. She is as surprised as I am.

“That’s how we do it here,” Mr. Garcia says. “Your house has the most damage, so that’s where we’ll start.”

“And we’ll do it together?” Momma asks. I see her start to smile.

“Please come inside,” she says. She looks at all of our neighbors. “And thank you.

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Activities (5)
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Slideshows (1)
Activities (5) Download All Quizzes and Activities

About the Story

Social-emotional Learning Focus


Step-by-Step Lesson Plan


Preview Vocabulary (5 minutes)
  • Play the online vocabulary slideshow. This issue’s featured words are hurricane, damage, eye of the storm, and batter.

Preview the article and set a purpose for reading (15 minutes)

  • Read the Think and Read prompt on page 25: “As you read, think about why neighbors are important. How can they help each other?"
  • Ask children what they think the answer to the question could be. Write their ideas on chart paper.

Preview the First Page (5-10 minutes)

  • Now tell students they are going to read a fictional story.
  • Open your magazines to “The Storm.” Preview the art on the opening pages.
  • Ask: What do you think is going on in this picture? (Answers will vary.)


  • Kids can read this story individually, in small groups, or as a whole class.
  • Check comprehension as you read the story with the Pause and Think questions. These help check basic comprehension as you go along.



Assessment: Quiz (10 minutes)
  • Pass out the quiz skills sheet (available in your Resources tab) to assess students’ reading comprehension.

ELA Focus: Vocabulary (15 minutes)

  • Use the Word Work activity (available in your Resources tab) to deepen students’ understanding of the story’s vocabulary words.

ELA Focus: Key details/Writing a summary (20 minutes)

  • Pass out our “Annie’s Letter” activity (available in your Resources tab). Kids will pretend to be Annie, writing a letter to her dad about what happened.
  • This will help teach key details and writing summaries.

Enrich the Learning: Paired Text Opportunities (time amount varies)

  • Making text-to-text connections builds knowledge and comprehension. Each issue of Storyworks 2 has many layers so that students can make connections between the texts. That really enriches the lesson!
  • Paired Text Words & Pictures: Hold On, It’s a Hurricane
  • Before students read “The Storm,” read the Words & Pictures feature. It will give kids basic background knowledge that will help them understand the article better.
  • It will also help preteach vocabulary words and concepts they will find in “The Storm.”
  • Use our Two Different Texts activity (available in your Resources tab) to give kids practice comparing the short nonfiction piece and the fictional story.