The Reading Place

Illustrated by Anabelle (7), Isley (4) and Luke (31)
Written by Luke Ellington


A reading place is a special space for getting your read on.

Penelope Prim and her chicken, Big Red, had a reading place in the kitchen broom closet.  But it was a bit cramped in there.

And dark…

And the EVIL DUST BUNNIES were…evil.

Big Red fought valiantly to protect Penelope and her books, but there were just too many fuzzy foes.  The sneezing was fierce.  So Penelope and her chicken lost their reading place in the broom closet.  With no one else to turn to, they sought advice from Penelope’s big brother, Larry Hairy Longlegs.

He was locked in his room, as usual, working on another one of his projects.

Penelope tried knocking, first at her height and then way up high where her dad would knock.  Nothing.

She and Big Red knocked more…and pecked…and scratched…and hollered…and squawked…and collapsed on the floor.  Nothing.

But just as they were about to give up, a definite something slid out below the door.  A flyer.


STEM flyer

The girls were a bit perplexed.  But they had big problems…problems that needed solving.

“Thanks a million, Larry Harry Longlegs!” Penelope called.

Big Red left a present.

“Okay, Big Red, we need a new reading place and this STEM thingy is our answer.”  Penelope looked deep into her chicken’s eyes.  “I’ll just need a few minutes to learn what these words mean.”

She didn’t have to say more.  Big Red sharpened her beak on the floor and prepared for a final broom closet dust bunny battle.


While Penelope looked up those four words in her dictionary, all was chaos and feathers and dust.  Talons ripped through the air.  Evil glowing eyes glowed evilly.  It was ONE CHICKEN standing against an EVIL DUST BUNNY HOARD!  And it was EPIC.


The girls made it out just in time.

“Thanks, Big Red.  We did it!”

After much sneezing, Penelope explained to the chicken that Science is when you use what you know about the world to test ideas and learn more.  Technology is about finding new and better ways of doing a job.  Engineering is when you use what you know to help design and build something.  Math is all about the numbers and patterns that were used to make the world.

“You know, Big Red, I think ol’ Larry Hairy Longlegs might just be right!  We can use STEM to make our own reading place.  A better reading place!”

The two set to work outside.

They made notes in the sandbox about the Sun and passing clouds.  About people and chickens and grass.  Science!

They had a snack and talked about what kinds of tools a truly amazing reading place would have.  Technology!

They discovered the perfect ways to break cardboard boxes open and connect them into new shapes.  Engineering!


And they measured everything in the yard to find the perfect place to build.  Math!

The new and so-totally-improved reading place had everything.  Umbrella.  Sturdy cardboard construction.  Lights.  Nesting box (for laying eggs).  Shelves (for books).  More shelves.  Special shelves for Bible stories.  A cup holder.  And awesomeness.

And yet, for all the awesomeness, the new reading place looked a bit cold and uninviting.

Big Red, who just happened to be clutching some sidewalk chalk , gave Penelope an idea.  Thirty-five chalk sticks later, Penelope had turned the entire reading place into an eye-catching kaleidoscope of color.  Art!

She hung up the flyer.

STEAM flyer

Penelope and her chicken, Big Red, were just about to get their read on when they heard a knock at the door.  Then another…a bit lower.

“Okay, Larry Hairy Longlegs, but you’re lucky we reinforced the structure to account for your pubescent dimensions.  I knew you’d come.”

Penelope, her chicken, and her big brother all got their read on…right after testing the new Evil Dust Bunny Launcher 3000.

“Not too bad, Larry Hairy Longlegs.”

“Not too bad, Penelopoopoo.”

“Bok bok bok, bagok!”




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