World Religion
Crystal's Way

Crystal's Way
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.79

     challenging words:    acne, all-American, altar, applause, auditorium, copout, freshman, inaction, meditate, over-eager, podium, overweight, flushed, entire, sacred, fundraiser
     content words:    Ching Ming, Tao Te Ching

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Crystal's Way
By Colleen Messina

1     Crystal tossed her sleek, black hair back over her shoulders and looked into the hallway mirror. Her almond-shaped eyes looked confident, but Crystal was scared. She had to make a speech. She was running for class president!
2     Crystal stopped at a little altar in the hallway. Even though her grandmother had been dead for several years, Crystal prayed to her each time she passed the small altar. Each year at the Festival of Ching Ming, they honored her. Crystal thought of her grandmother's wrinkled face. She missed her grandmother's peaceful view of life.
3     Grandma was a Taoist, as was Crystal's family. Crystal liked to meditate. She often visited the temple with her family. One thing always confused her in Taoism, and that was the idea of wu wei, or "action through inaction." Doing nothing seemed like a copout! She was going to do something with her life. If anyone crossed her, she wasn't going to take it!
4     Crystal grabbed her backpack and walked to school. She shuffled through the swirling orange leaves on the sidewalk. Fall in Maine was pretty, but someday she wanted to visit China and see the misty mountains of her grandmother's homeland. She wanted to walk through the thick bamboo forests and see pandas peeking out at her from dark places. As she walked to school, she thought about her speech. She wanted to be class president so much!
5     Crystal lived through math, Spanish, and history class. At 11:00, the entire high school packed the dusty auditorium to hear speeches! Crystal and Bob, the other candidate, sat on folding chairs on stage. The principal introduced Bob. What happened next shocked everyone.
6     Bob stood behind the podium, handsome and tall. He looked all-American, and everyone looked up to Bob. Then, he talked about his goals as class president. He began to attack Crystal. The audience squirmed uncomfortably when he spoke about her lack of computer skills and her shyness. He even said that her Chinese heritage would make her a bad class president.
7     Crystal's face burned. The principal looked shocked. He stood up and whispered something in Bob's ear with a stern frown. Then he announced that it was Crystal's turn.
8     Crystal didn't know what to do. Tears stung her eyes, and her face flushed. An image of her grandmother came to her mind. She could see her in her scarlet kimono, turning the pages of the Tao Te Ching, her sacred book. Her grandma read to the family at night. Even though Crystal had found some of the ideas confusing, suddenly she thought of two words: wu wei.
9     Crystal smiled. Of course! She must somehow not respond to Bob's words. Wu wei meant do nothing. Crystal realized that doing nothing about Bob's comments might be the best thing at the moment! She thought about her grandma. Grandma would just stand up and give the speech. Crystal stood up and took a deep breath.

Paragraphs 10 to 16:
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