Sister, Sister

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


  • using first person and third person singular verb endings
  • reading plural nouns
  • understanding opposites
  • attending to alternating sentence patterns

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • repetitive, patterned sentences
  • humor used to engage the reader

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

High-frequency Words: I, like(s), to, my, her, make, when, be, a, in

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • What are some things sisters and brothers agree about? What are some things they disagree about?
    • Tell me about a time when you and your sister or brother did not agree.
    • What kinds of activities do children like to do at home?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “Sister, Sister.”
    • Ask them to predict what the story might be about.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what kinds of things the sisters might like to do.
    • 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 notice what the girls are 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 look at the picture and say the beginning sound of the word.
    • Suggest that children also think about what the sisters are doing in the picture and choose a word that makes sense in the sentence.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains several high-frequency words as well as these familiar plural nouns: songs, rocks, things, stories
    • Many familiar verbs are used: sing, listen, study, play, keep, read, love
    • There are two alternating patterned sentences.
    • The sentences on each two facing pages describe opposite activities.
    • The last sentence does not follow either of the patterns.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about the sisters to find out what each girl likes to do.

  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 pay attention to the endings on words?
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Work with first person and third person verb endings: I like . . . My sister likes . . . , and the plural noun “stories,” in which the “-y” ending changes to “-ies.”
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit SISTER, SISTER to find opposite likes/dislikes.

After the First Reading

  1. Have children confirm their predictions about what each girl in the story likes to do.

  2. Discuss what the sisters liked and how their preferences are not the same. Ask children how the sisters’ choices are similar but also different.

  3. Reflect on how the sisters seem to deal with their differences.

  4. Brainstorm with children some ways the sisters could play together despite their different interests and ways of doing things.

  5. Explore with children how some of the sisters’ differences are not really very different from each other, for example, the way they each feel about stories.

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: Look through the book and find some evidence that one of the sisters likes to paint pictures. Divide children into two groups. Ask one group to paint a picture that represents what the younger sister likes. Ask the other group to paint a picture that represents what the older sister likes. When the paintings are finished, have the groups share their pictures and compare what they included.

Music: Give children classroom instruments and let them make some music together. Record the children’s music and then play it back for them. Discuss what children liked and didn’t like about their music. Encourage them to choose their favorite parts of the recording.
Help children become aware of the concept of personal preferences. Talk about how each person may like different parts of their music, just like they may like different colors, foods, games, and so on. Make sure children understand that all personal preferences are acceptable; their choices are neither right nor wrong.

Science: Read children IF YOU FIND A ROCK by Peggy Christian. Then give children each an opportunity to find or choose a rock and observe it carefully. Provide hand lenses so children can examine their rocks in detail. Using the book as inspiration, make a chart or class book with children’s observations, thoughts, and stories about their rocks. You might even use a disposable camera or digital camera to photograph children’s rocks and create illustrations for the chart or book.

Math: There are two sisters in the story. Take advantage of this fact to teach and practice counting by twos. Use real objects, counters, or pictures to support children as they count.

Social Studies: The younger sister in SISTER, SISTER is in a wheelchair, yet it does not keep her from enjoying everyday activities. Help children become sensitive to people with special needs. Encourage children to talk about how they might help a child in a wheelchair participate in the activities of a normal school day. Also talk about the things families and communities do to make life easier for people in wheelchairs.

Writing: Have children make up pairs of sentences using first person and third person singular verbs. They might start with “like/likes,” but then introduce other familiar verbs such as “run/runs, eat/eats, see/sees,” and so on. Help each child record one pair of sentences on drawing paper and then let children illustrate their sentences.
This activity may be repeated with familiar singular and plural nouns.

Hermana, hermana

Guided Reading™: E        DRA: 6        Intervention: 7
12 pages, 67 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 alternating patterned sentences and many familiar words, although some of the verb conjugations may not be familiar to all children. The use of the pictures as clues to word meaning and discussion will support children in their reading.

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 - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican Interest, Friendship, Families, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Realistic Fiction


Emergent English, Emergent Dual Language, Teachers College Reading Assessment Kit for Grades K-2: Add-On Pack, Bebop English Guided Reading Level E, Bebop Latin American English Grades PreK-2, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, Latin American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 11, 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