The Best Thing

By Laura E. Williams
Illustrations by Laura E. Williams


  • reading about a real person

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • strong photo-text match

High-frequency Words: my, is, I, was, from, when, now, and, go, to, in, this, on, his, look, way, up, for, she, being, the, that, her

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • What does it mean to be adopted?
    • If you were to write a story about yourself, what would you say?
    • What kinds of things do you think people should tell about themselves when you want to get to know them?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “The Best Thing.”
    • Tell children that the book is about a little girl who was adopted. Have children predict what they might find out about the girl.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what the girl might think is the best thing about her family.
    • 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 children are in the book 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 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 numerous high-frequency words.
    • The story is told in narrative form from a child’s point of view.
    • The ideas in the story are common to the way young children describe themselves.
    • There are many different sentences, but they are simple constructions with natural speech patterns.
    • Text on several pages requires a return sweep.
    • The photographs strongly support the text.
    • There is a hyphenated word on page 13.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to find out about the girl and her family.

  2. Have children read the first few pages 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. When you hear them reading fluently, tell them to begin reading silently.

  3. Look for these reading behaviors during children’s first reading:

    • Have they begun to cross-check, using a variety of strategies, and self correct?
    • Do they rely less on pictures and more on print when reading?
    • Do they have a growing sight vocabulary?
    • Are they monitoring meaning and rereading when they lose meaning?
    • Do they use beginning, middle, and ending sounds to read unknown words?
    • Have they started to use punctuation to gain meaning?
    • Do they make more accurate predictions?  
    • Can they connect the text to past experiences?

After the First Reading

  1. Have children tell what they learned about Madison and confirm their predictions about what they would learn about her in the story.

  2. Discuss how Madison’s family is similar to and different from children’s own families.

  3. Talk about how Madison and her family share and have fun together.

  4. Brainstorm a list of questions children might like to ask Madison.

Second Reading

  1. Have children reread the book 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: Have children draw family portraits. Encourage children to share their pictures with the group and name the people shown.

Music: Talk about the kinds of music children and their families enjoy. Have children sing a song that their families sing together. Write the songs on chart paper and have children teach each other the songs.

Math: Make a graph that shows how many people are in each child’s family. Use the graph to make comparisons using the greater than (>) and less than (<) signs.

Social Studies: Help children learn more about China. Locate the country on a world map and help children draw up a list of questions they would like to answer. For example: What does the country look like? What kinds of foods do the people eat? What is school like? and so on. Enlist the help of the school librarian to help children find the answers to their questions.

Social Studies: If their are any adopted children in your class who would be comfortable talking about their families, they may wish to tell their classmates about their particular experiences.

Writing: Encourage children to write about the things they enjoy doing with their siblings and/or family members.   

Guided Reading with

Guided Reading™: G        DRA: 12        Reading Recovery®: 11
16 pages, 109 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 story contains familiar ideas children can relate to easily and connect to their own families. Pages 10 and 16 contain exclamation points. Exclamation points are used at both the beginning and end of a 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.


About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades K - 2

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Photographic Illustrations, Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Nonfiction, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence, Home, Families, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Asian/Asian American Interest, Adoption, Informational Text


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

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