I do SAT tutoring and closely followed the posts about reading comprehension (and the lack of skills given to build it in most HS English classes). I also have a 10 yo who mentioned that he didn't really know the words to our national anthem. I pulled up the lyrics to show him and, wow, there was a perfectly sized reading comprehension lesson for a 10 year old. It could be read for understanding, visualized, and then paraphrased and summarized. (As you might imagine, he was just delighted.)
While he may still not know the lyrics perfectly in order, it was a great reading comprehension lesson. It occurred to me that it would be an excellent lesson to have in my pocket as a sub as well.
And after all that, the point of the email! I'd love to see if others on KTM can come up with other similar length or up to a page or two in length selections that could be used as effectively for comprehension, paraphrase, and summary purposes (about age 8 on up). If the passage also hits on cultural/historical/scientific knowledge like this did, even better.
O say can you see by the dawn's early light,update 8/17/2012: Karen H points out that the Gettysburg address offers a terrific example of parallelism and other rhetorical techniques.
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Using speeches and other historical documents to teach reading comprehension and writing:
In the Event of Moon Disaster: parallelism, cohesion, the semicolon
Karen H recommends the Gettysburg Address for a lesson in parallelism
Jen on teaching the Star Spangled Banner to her 10-year old (and see Comment thread for more)
Glen on Daniel Boone's autobiography