Ruby's Whistle

By Renee Londner
Illustrations by Laurent Linn


  • connecting personal experiences with a story
  • reading and following conversation
  • reading contractions
  • reading words with initial consonant blends and digraphs
  • following a longer story

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • narrative sentence and text form
  • pictures support and extend the story

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

High-frequency Words: she, can, with, her, but, how, to, he, two, in, his, and, a, comes, out, her, an, on, the, there, are, many, each, other, that, who, you

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • Can you whistle? Show me how you whistle.
    • How did you learn to whistle?
    • How would you teach another person to whistle?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Ruby’s Whistle.”
    • Ask them to predict what might happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children whom they think Ruby will ask to teach her to whistle.
    • Have children suggest some words they might read in the story.
    • Give children the book and have them look at the pictures. Ask them what happens as they turn each page.
  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 think about what Ruby is doing as she tries to learn to whistle. 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 story is written in narrative form. Quotation marks indicate what the characters say.
    • The sentence patterns repeat at intervals.
    • Most pages have more than one line of text, requiring a return sweep.
    • The capital letter “O” is used as a word and to indicate a shape.
    • Two common contractions are used: can’t, doesn’t.
    • There are several words with initial consonant blends and digraphs: blow(s), places, shape, she, slide(s), smiles, still, swing(s), that, there, trees, whistle.
    • The pictures enhance the story, but most of it is told in the text.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about how Ruby learns to whistle.

  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 dialogue?
    • 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. Point out the use of an apostrophe in the possessive form of Ruby (Ruby’s) and the use of quotation marks, commas, and question marks in dialogue.
    • Work with words with initial consonant blends and digraphs.
    • Call attention to the sequence of events in the story.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit RUBY’S WHISTLE to find clues about how Ruby felt in different parts of the story.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children confirm their predictions about what happened in the story.

  2. Talk about why Ruby wanted to learn to whistle and how she felt before and after learning how to do it.

  3. Elicit children’s ideas about how the birds taught Ruby to whistle.

  4. Encourage children to make connections to their own experiences learning to whistle, or learning how to do something else new.

  5. Have children practice reading the dialogue, using a different voice and expression for each character.

  6. Brainstorm with children what might happen after the end of the story.

Second Reading

  1. Have children reread the book in a whisper voice, silently, 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: Brainstorm with children a contest they might hold that involves whistling, such as one where everyone competes whistling the same song, or for the longest whistle, the loudest whistle, group whistling, and so on. Let children draw posters advertising the contest. If feasible, hold the contest for your class, or let several classes participate. Children can also create first prize, second prize, and third prize ribbons for the winners.

Music: Read children the story of Snow White and review the song “Whistle While You Work.” Let children sing and whistle while they act out the parts of the seven dwarfs. (The complete song lyrics can be found at:

Science: Investigate things that make whistling sounds. Give children some common objects, such as a soda bottle, comb, or blade of grass, and show them how to make these objects into whistles. Then talk about what has to happen so that these objects function as whistles.
    Play a recording of bird calls for children. Let them try imitating some of the calls.

Math: Ask children to poll their family members to find out how many people can whistle and how many cannot. Show children how to make a simple bar graph comparing the total number who can whistle with the total number who cannot. Let each child make his or her own graph, or add up all the figures and make a class graph.

Social Studies: Brainstorm a list of people who use whistles in their work. Discuss why or how the whistle is used for each person’s occupation. For example, a traffic officer uses a whistle to alert people or cars to stop.

Writing: Have children write about a time a friend, sibling, parent, or other person helped them learn something new.

Guided Reading with El silbido de ruby

Guided Reading™: G        DRA: 12        Intervention: 11
24 pages, 140 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, although some of the verb conjugations may be unfamiliar. The use of the pictures and discussion will support children in their reading. Children may be unfamiliar with the way dialogue is indicated and how question marks are used in written Spanish. Dashes are used to indicate dialogue and question marks are used at both the beginning and end of a sentence. The marks appear “upside down” at the beginning of each 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.

Phonics Supplement


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 1 - 1

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Five Senses / Body Parts, Families, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Asian/Asian American Interest, Persistence/Grit, Realistic Fiction


Emergent English, Emergent Dual Language, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Add-On Pack, Bebop English Guided Reading Level F, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection 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 13, Multicultural Collection 14, Multicultural Collection 15, Multicultural Collection 11, Multicultural Collection 16, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Library, Bebop English Fiction

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Phonics Supplement

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