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Jacob Riis

Jacob Riis
Print Jacob Riis Reading Comprehension with Sixth Grade Work

Print Jacob Riis Reading Comprehension

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.35

     challenging words:    disease-ridden, over-crowded, unsuspected, photojournalists, journalism, administration, slum, tenement, refused, writing, picker, windowsill, government, power, debris, alley
     content words:    United States, Jacob Riis, New York Tribune, New York Evening Sun, Mulberry Bend, Theodore Roosevelt, President Roosevelt
Jacob Riis

By Sharon Fabian
1     The neighborhoods were called slums - they were over-crowded, dirty, dangerous, and disease-ridden neighborhoods of poor people who had moved to the city looking for a better job and a better life. Many of the slum residents were immigrants new to the United States. They found work in the cities, but they also found unexpected new problems. In the city, garbage piled up, germs spread quickly, fires broke out, and criminals preyed on innocent people. Who would take care of these problems? People who lived outside of the slums didn't seem interested. The government didn't seem interested, either. Maybe they didn't even know that the problems existed. Jacob Riis decided to help. He made sure that people who could do something about them did know about the problems. Jacob Riis made helping the poor his life's work.
2     Jacob Riis had been born in Denmark, but he moved to the United States in 1870, at the age of 21. In 1877, he became a reporter for the New York Tribune and then for the New York Evening Sun. He reported on how people lived in an area known as Mulberry Bend. Mulberry Bend was one of the neighborhoods called a slum - maybe one of the worst. Jacob Riis published reports and photographs to show the rest of the United States how the people of Mulberry Bend lived. One of his photographs showed two tenement buildings, the crowded apartments where the immigrants lived. The two building were so close together that almost no light could shine in the windows. The stone alley between the two buildings was covered with water, even though it hadn't been raining. Garbage cans and piles of debris crowded the alley. People leaned out their windows for a breath of air. Other people stood in the alley, talking or doing business. Another picture showed a woman holding a baby. She sat in a crowded room filled with bags and tubs. She looked dirty and tired; the woman was identified as a rag picker. Another picture showed a room with three beds. The room was crowded with residents, and even though it seemed to be daytime - everyone was awake - they were all in bed. There was nowhere else to sit. It must have been cold in the room, because everyone was wrapped in ragged blankets. Jacob Riis' articles told more about the people who lived in Mulberry Bend. They told about the many children who had no family and grew up living on the street. They told about the newspaper boys who had no other support but the few cents they made selling newspapers each day. They told about the women working in the factories, whose pay was even less than the small salary that was paid to the men.

Paragraphs 3 to 4:
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