Chinatown Adventure

By Laura E. Williams
Illustrations by Laura E. Williams


  • connecting personal experiences with a story
  • reading with expression
  • reading two lines of text with return sweep
  • reading contractions

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • strong photo-text match
  • adequate space around text

Essential Components of Reading Instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, comprehension strategies

High-frequency Words: so, to, my, and, I, a, the, is, of, see, many, these, this, of, for, some, then, we, now, go, what, will, he

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • Do you know what a Chinatown is? What might you see in Chinatown?
    • Tell me about visiting a new place where you saw interesting things.
    • What might a child and her or his mom do on a day in the city?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Tell children many cities have an area called Chinatown where Chinese people, Chinese restaurants, and stores selling products and foods relating to Chinese culture and traditions congregate. If any children have visited a Chinatown, encourage them to share their experiences with the class.
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Chinatown Adventure.”
    • Ask them to predict what might happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what the girl in the story might do and see in Chinatown.
    • 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 the girl in the book is doing.
  3. 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 say the beginning sound of an unknown word and read on, returning to the word after completing the sentence.
    • Suggest that children also remember what they know about Chinatown or visiting a city. Then encourage them to choose a word that makes sense in the sentence.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains numerous high-frequency words and many other familiar words.
    • The photographs give high support to the text.
    • The story details a busy day that could take place in many settings.
    • There are two lines of text on some pages, requiring a return sweep.
    • Some sentences are repeated with one or two words changed.
    • Common contractions are used on several pages: I’m, we’re, I’ll, it’s.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about what the girl and her mother do when they go on their Chinatown adventure.

  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:
    • Have they begun to cross-check, using a variety of strategies, and to self correct?
    • Do they rely less on pictures and more on print when reading?
    • Do they have a growing sight vocabulary?
    • Do they use beginning, middle, and ending sounds to read unknown words?
    • Are they monitoring meaning and rereading when they lose meaning?
    • Do they easily move from one line of text to the next when making a return sweep?
    • Have they started to use punctuation to gain meaning and as a key to reading with expression?
    • Do they make more accurate predictions?
    • Can they connect the text to past experiences?
  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:
    • 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.
    • Call attention to the contractions and the use of an apostrophe to take the place of the missing letters.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Discuss the exclamation points and question mark as keys to reading with a particular kind of expression or inflection.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit CHINATOWN ADVENTURE to find all the things the girl considered buying.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children compare their predictions with what actually happened in the story.

  2. Focus children’s attention on the word “Maybe” on pages 6–9. Discuss what this word implies and how the girl is trying to make up her mind. Let children practice reading each “maybe” sentence with appropriate expression. Then brainstorm some reasons why each item might be a good or poor choice.

  3. Reflect on how the girl felt at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

  4. Connect the story with children’s experiences of shopping trips they have taken with their families or caretakers.

  5. Brainstorm things children would like to do and see if they visited Chinatown.

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 child as an assessment of the child’s reading behavior.

Cross-Curricular Activities

Art: Call children’s attention to all the red items in the photographs. Tell them that the color red is a symbol of good luck and good fortune in Chinese culture. Let children create their own “good luck” pictures using red crayons, markers, pencils, or paint. (They may use other colors for details and backgrounds.) Help children label their pictures and display the pictures on a wall or bulletin board.

Music: Play a recording of some traditional Chinese music and ask children to listen carefully. Then let them move to the music and create their own dances. If you can locate a video of traditional Chinese dancing, arrange for children to watch it. Talk about the ways Chinese dancing is the same as and different from other kinds of dancing with which children are familiar.

Science: Many inventions are credited to the people of China. Introduce rockets and fireworks as two examples.
Ask children how they think a rocket works. Discuss jet propulsion. Blow up a balloon and ask children what will happen if you let the end go. Talk about how the force of the air pushes the balloon, and that this is similar to the way rockets are pushed into the sky. Then encourage children to brainstorm a list of things that are moved by the force of air, such as windmills, pinwheels, sailboats, kites, and so on.

Math: Have children name items they see in the stores pictured in the book. List these items on chart paper and then ask children how much they think each item costs. Record the price next to each item. Then give children play money and let them pretend to buy the listed items. Do simple addition and subtraction examples to illustrate how much more money might be needed or how much change might be received in each transaction.

Social Studies: Point out China on a map or globe and tell children that China is one of the largest countries in the world. Generate a list of questions children have about China and the people who live there, and help children find the answers by reading reference books and checking Internet sites. and are just two sites that contain information to share with children.

Writing: Read children some of the poems in MY CHINATOWN by Kam Mak, in which a young boy describes his life in New York City’s Chinatown. Help children write their own poems about their neighborhood.

Aventura en el barrio chino

Guided Reading™: F        DRA: 10        Intervention: 9
16 pages, 116 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 many familiar words. The phrase “Tal vez” could be explored as suggested above for the word “Maybe.” Exclamation points and question marks are used on several pages at both the beginning and end of the sentences. The marks appear “upside down” at the beginning of each sentence and “right side up” at the end. There are also many opportunities for children to read with expression to enhance comprehension.

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.


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 1 - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Colors, Photographic Illustrations, Nonfiction, Weather/Seasons/Clothing, Counting Money/Everyday Math, Food, Families, Cultural Diversity, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Asian/Asian American Interest, Adoption, Informational Text


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, English Informational Text Grades PreK-2, Bebop English Guided Reading Level F, Bebop Nonfiction Grades PreK-2, Bebop Asian American English Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Asian American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 12, Multicultural Collection 14, Multicultural Collection 15, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Chinese and Lunar New Year, Bebop English Nonfiction

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