Wednesday, November 10, 2021

"My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson

"...he sometimes shoots up taller like a bouncing rubber ball..."

Click to see Vol. I, Issue 2 of the newsletter in which this article first appeared.

Listen to the audio of this article!

This article is designed for younger readers, with activities more suitable for children.

Mr. Stevenson wrote this poem in 1885. Because it's old, some of the words might be difficult for some young readers. So I have re-written parts of it, to make it easier.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like a bouncing rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't an idea of how children ought to play,
And he only makes a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd be shamed to hang on Mommy like that shadow hangs on me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like a real sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.


Some words to talk about:

  • buttercup: a type of flower
  • coward: someone who is afraid
  • dew: water found outside in the morning, before the sun comes and dries it
  • shamed: embarrassed, feeling shy


Choose the best answer. Answers in the comments below.

1. True or false: The speaker thinks his shadow is useful.

2. What does the speaker's shadow do when the speaker jumps into bed?
A. Jumps before he does.
B. Jumps with him.
C. Jumps after he does.

3. What is unusual about the way the speaker's shadow grows?
A. The shadow always grows bigger, like a regular child.
B. The shadow sometimes grows bigger, and sometimes grows smaller.
C. The shadow always grows smaller.

4. How does the shadow embarrass the speaker?
A. The shadow throws a rubber ball.
B. The shadow grows smaller.
C. The shadow hangs onto him like it's afraid.

5. True or false: It's possible for your shadow to stay in bed while you go outside to look at flowers.


Look at the picture and try to make the "shadow animals."

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