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What I Learned from a Worm! by Rodney Gottula

Page #s are listed on the left. Feel free to let your students use their imagination to illustrate the story as they envision it. Then, please share their creativity on social media #learnedfromaworm

1 One day, as I played with my friends in the sand,

Joey showed up with a worm in his hand.

2 "Let's have some fun--just you and me.

Let's show the worm to Anna-Marie!"

3 Now, Anna was sitting alone by the slide.

While the other kids played, Anna would hide.

4 "Hey, there, Anna," said Joey and I.

"Come over here. We've got a surprise!"

5 Anna stood up with hope in her eyes.

Glanced at us both and asked, "What's the surprise?"

6 Out shot my hand with a creepy night-crawler,

And, Anna-Marie? She started to holler.

7 "It's only a worm," I teased with a grin,

As I dangled the worm in front of her chin.

8 She screamed out in fright and started to flee.

Worm firm in hand, I chased Anna-Marie.

9 She ran to the teacher, jumping about.

She told teacher what happened. I got TIME OUT.

10 And when TIME OUT was over, teacher appeared.

I got scolded for preying on other kids' fears.

11 Teacher told Mom, and my mom told my dad.

Dad asked if I'd done it, and I said I had.

12 "Son, I know, you know better than that.

Did you think it was funny to watch her react?"

13 He paused before me, and said as he knelt,

"I want you to stop and just think how she felt."

14 "Do you like to be scared? Do you like to be teased?

Did you think it was funny? Do you think she was pleased?"

15 "No," I whispered as I stared at the floor.

Dad tipped up my chin. He asked me once more:

16 "Did Anna-Marie think your prank was a game?"

"No," I replied, with a teardrop of shame.

17 "Well, then, son," instructed my Pop.

"When someone says, 'STOP,' I want you to stop."

18 His loving advice made sense to me,

I wanted to fix things with Anna-Marie.

19 So, the next day at school, while playing outside,

I saw Anna-Marie alone by the slide.

20 I gently approached from a few feet away,

"I'm sorry I showed you that worm, yesterday."

21 Anna-Marie looked me straight in my eyes.

"I thought that you really did have a surprise."

22 "I'm sorry," I whispered. She said, "It's okay."

She smiled and asked me, "Would you like to play?"

23 "Sure," I replied. Then we played and we played.

And I felt joy in my heart throughout the whole day.

24 And--most of the time--since that day way back then,

Anna Marie and I have been friends.

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