A Special Day

By Anne Sibley O'Brien
Illustrations by Anne Sibley O'Brien


  • using picture clues
  • reading a patterned sentence
  • sequencing events

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • repetitive, patterned sentence
  • strong picture-text match

High-frequency Words: it, is, a, for, on, I, there

Getting Ready to Read

Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:

  • Tell me what you would wear if you were going to a birthday party.
  • What might you do to get ready for a party for one of your grandparents or an older person?
  • Tell me about celebrations or other days that are special for you. What kinds of things do people do on special days?
  1. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “A Special Day.”
    • Ask them to predict what they would expect the girl to do for a “special day.”
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what they think the girl and her family are going to celebrate.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures.
    • Ask them to tell what they see happening in the story.
  2. Remind children of the strategies they know and can use with unfamiliar words:
    • Ask them, “What will you do if you come to a word you don’t know?”
    • Encourage children to look at the picture and say the beginning sound of the word.
  3. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains several high-frequency words as well as these familiar words: special, person, top, wear, hair, food(s), grandfather(’s).
    • Familiar clothing words are used: skirt, socks, shoes.
    • There is a patterned sentence.
    • The last sentence varies from the patterned sentence.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read and find out how the girl got ready for a special day.

  2. Have children read quietly, but out loud. Each child should be reading at his or her own pace. Children should not read in chorus. Listen to children as they read by leaning close or bending down beside each child.

  3. Look for these reading behaviors during children’s first reading:
    • Do they identify more words by sight?
    • Do they rely on the print and not just the pictures when reading?
    • Do they read with increased confidence?
    • Are they self-correcting to get meaning from the story?
    • Have they begun to cross-check by using language patterns and letter sounds?
    • Do they reread to check accuracy and meaning?
    • Are they using chunks of words rather than individual letters when sounding out?
    • Do they expect to get meaning from the text?
    • Do they make connections between the story and previous experiences?
    • Are they asking questions about the story?
  4. As children read, suggest reading strategies if they are struggling: “Try saying the beginning of the word. Try looking at the picture for help.” Encourage children to take a guess or read past the unknown word.

  5. Possible teaching points to address based on your observations:
    • Call attention to all the high-frequency words children have used.
    • Review how to find a known part in an unknown word.
    • Show children how to use analogies to move from the known to the unknown when encountering new words.
    • Work with suffixes and prefixes.
    • Review using grammar (syntax) to unlock words by considering the sentence structure or parts of speech in the sentence.
    • Explore the story grammar—characters, setting, problem, and so on.
    • Review how to determine what is important in a picture or sentence.
    • Model asking questions or making “I wonder . . .” statements to extend comprehension.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Call attention to the exclamation point on the last page.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children confirm their predictions about what the girl did for her “special day.”

  2. Ask children to retell how the girl got ready.

  3. Talk about the different meanings of the word “special.” Help children extend the meaning of the word through examples used in the book.

  4. Discuss the significance of each of the special things.

  5. Reflect on how the girl’s preparation for the day is similar to and different from that of children reading the story.

  6. Brainstorm ideas about what the girl’s family did at her grandfather’s party.

Second Reading

  1. Have children reread the book in a whisper voice or to a partner.

  2. This is a time for assessment. While they are reading, watch what children do and what they use from the teaching time. Alternatively, you might take a running record on one student as an assessment of the student’s reading behavior.

Cross-Curricular Activities

Art: Have children make birthday cards for the grandfather in the story and write special messages from the girl inside the cards.

Music: Have children sing “Happy Birthday” and then modify the song so it could be sung to the grandfather on his 60th birthday.

Science: Investigate the different kinds of fabrics and other materials that are used for party clothes as compared to school or play clothes.

Math: Have children draw pictures of themselves in party clothes. Use the pictures to create a graph that shows how many skirts, pants, shoes, sneakers, and so on, would be worn. Look at the completed graph and draw some conclusions.

Social Studies: Explore the ways people around the world celebrate birthdays. Talk about the similarities and differences.

Writing: Have children write stories about birthday parties they have attended.    


Guided Reading™: D        DRA: 4        Reading Recovery®: 6
12 pages, 90 words

The directions given for the introduction, first reading, and second reading of the English edition can be used with the Spanish edition of the book. To read the book successfully, children need the same kinds of support as their English-speaking classmates. Second language learners often benefit from acting out new words, seeing pictures, and talking about them using concrete examples.

The Spanish edition has a patterned sentence and many familiar words. There is a patterned sentences on pages 3–6. The second part of the patterned sentence changes on the following pages because of the way the story translates into Spanish.

The book language used may differ from children’s oral language. Comparing any differences will help children read and understand the story. Also help children understand that we often speak differently than we write, and that both ways of using language are important.

Phonics Supplement


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades K - 1

Reading Level:

Grades K - 1


Weather/Seasons/Clothing, Time/Days Of The Week, Holidays/Traditions, Families, Cultural Diversity, Asian/Asian American Interest, Realistic Fiction, Pride


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Add-On Pack, Bebop English Guided Reading Level D, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Reading Partners ER Lee & Low Kit , Bebop Asian American English Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Asian American Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Library, Bebop English Fiction

Want to know more about us or have specific questions regarding our Teacher's Guides?

Please write us!


Phonics Supplement

Terms of Use