Go Go Gumbo

By Adjoa J. Burrowes
Illustrations by Adjoa J. Burrowes


  • reading and following directions
  • using picture clues
  • reading a patterned sentence
  • sequencing events
  • recognizing action words (verbs) and adjectives

Supportive Text Features:

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

High-frequency Words: we, in, the, all, up, and, as, can, be, it

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • Tell me what someone might put into a stew or soup.
    • What might a cook make out of leftovers?
    • What could a grandfather and his granddaughter put into a delicious stew?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Go Go Gumbo.”
    • Ask them to look at the picture and talk about what the title might mean.
    • Have children predict what they would expect to see happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what they think the girl and her grandfather will put in their gumbo.
    • 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.
  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.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains several high-frequency words as well as many familiar words.
    • Familiar food words are used: onion, meat, chicken, beef, tomato, fish.
    • There is a picture on each text page to help children figure out the food word.
    • The first sentence is repeated on each page, with one word change.
    • The second sentence on each page is different and contains a verb or adjective(s) to expand on the first sentence; many of these sentences begin with the contraction “It’s.”

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read and find out how the girl and her grandfather made their gumbo.

  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 happened in the story.

  2. Have children tell the recipe for the gumbo. Discuss each ingredient and vote on whether or not children would like to include it.

  3. Reflect on how the tastes of the different foods will blend.

  4. Draw some conclusions about the taste of this gumbo. Will it be hot, spicy, sweet, and so on?

  5. Talk about how the girl and her grandfather feel about each other.

  6. Find some evidence in the book that supports the idea that the two characters are fond of one another.
    Second Reading**

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

  8. 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: Give each child a piece of construction paper cut into the shape of a pot. Have children cut pictures of food out of magazines and paste them on their pots to make gumbo collages. Encourage creative but realistic combinations for the gumbo mix.

Music: Use the tune of “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” to innovate a song that has a verse for each ingredient. For example, “We’ll be chopping up the onion for gumbo. We’ll be chopping up the onion for gumbo. We’ll be chopping up the onion, we’ll be chopping up the onion, we’ll be chopping up the onion. Go, go, gumbo!”

Science: Predict which gumbo ingredients will sink when added to the pot and which will float. If possible, gather some of the ingredients and use a pot of water to test children’s predictions. Make a chart to show which items float and which sink. Cut each solid ingredient in half and then smaller pieces. Ask children to try and explain what influences whether something sinks or floats.

Math: Cut up some vegetables and label the pieces one half, one quarter, and so on. Show children how all the pieces are exactly the same size when we use fractions.

Social Studies: Compare the soup- or stew-like dishes that are eaten by different families. What ingredients are common to many families and which ingredients are specific to individual families? Have children interview the “cook” in their families about how soup or stew or gumbo is made.

Writing: Help children write their own recipe for a silly soup or “gumbo.”


Guided Reading™: E        DRA: 8        Reading Recovery®: 8
12 pages, 42 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 first sentence is repeated on each page, with one word change. The second sentence on each page is different. The foods and concept should be familiar to most children. Exclamation points are used on page 12 at both the beginning and end of the last sentence. The marks appear upside down at the beginning of the sentence and right side up at the end.

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.

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About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 1 - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Nonfiction, Food, Families, Cultural Diversity, African/African American Interest, How To, Realistic Fiction


Emergent Dual Language, Emergent English, Bebop How-to Grades PreK-2, Bebop English Guided Reading Level E, Bebop Nonfiction Grades PreK-2, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, African American Collection English 6PK, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, At Home Learning Collection for Grades PreK-2, Adjoa Burrowes Collection, Bebop English Nonfiction

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