The Dashiki

By Gaylia Taylor
Illustrations by Cathy Ann Johnson


  • reading verbs with different forms and endings
  • reading two lines of text with return sweep
  • sequencing events
  • understanding cause-and-effect relationships
  • using a glossary

Supportive Text Features:

  • familiar words and concepts
  • days of the week in sequence
  • strong picture-text match
  • adequate space around text

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

High-frequency Words: on, a, it, had, many, was, he, his, then, the, she, her, my, I, but

Concept Words: names of days of the week

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • What happens to your clothes when they get too small for you to wear?
    • How would someone get spots or stains out of clothes?
    • What happens to dirty clothes when they are washed?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Turn to page 12 of the book and show children the picture and glossary entry. Point out the pronunciation key and read the definition of “dashiki.”
    • Show children the front cover and read the title: “The Dashiki.”
    • Ask them to predict what might happen in the story.
    • Show the back cover and read the copy. Ask children what they think might happen to Dad’s new dashiki.
    • 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.
    • Suggest that children also think about what the family is doing in the picture and choose a word that makes sense in the sentence.
    • Remind children to use the glossary on page 12 for help with the word “dashiki.”
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains several high-frequency words as well as the names of the days of the week.
    • Several familiar verbs are used, but in the past or gerund form: bought, eating, dripped, washed, shrunk, feeding.
    • There are two lines of text on many pages, requiring a return sweep.
    • There are four alternating partially-patterned sentences.
    • A glossary is included on page 12.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read about what happens to dad’s dashiki.

  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?
    • Are they using their fingers to point to words or to make the return sweep at the end of the first line of text?
    • 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.
    • Discuss the cause-and-effect relationships in the story.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Call attention to the exclamation point on pages 5, 9, and 11 and the glossary on page 12 as an aid to word pronunciation and meaning.
    • Work with the different verb forms: irregular and with “-ed” and “-ing” endings.
    • Explore use of the days of the week to indicate the sequence of events.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit THE DASHIKI to find the repeated phrases and sentences.

After the First Reading

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

  2. Discuss what happened to the dashiki and why it got smaller and smaller. Focus on cause-and-effect relationships.

  3. Reflect on how each family member felt when he or she had to give up the dashiki.

  4. Make some connections to other books children are familiar with that have a specific sequence or chain of events. Talk about how one event can set in motion a chain of events.

  5. Brainstorm some ways to avoid the drips and spills that occurred in the story so the dashiki wouldn’t have to be washed so much.

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: Have children look closely at the dashiki. (Page 12 and the back cover show the complete shirt.) Notice the colors and patterns. If available, show children other dashiki patterns or African fabrics. Use a die cut machine to make T-shirt-shaped cutouts or draw a T-shirt outline on paper and make a copy for each child. Let children color their own dashiki patterns.

Music: Listen to some traditional African music. Have children talk about what they like about the music, and give them an opportunity to move or dance to the rhythms. Invite children to talk about the movements the music suggests or makes them want to perform.

Science: Brainstorm with children a list of some ways we use water. Then give children several pieces of fabric, some of which are washable and some (like wool, silk, and soft leather) which aren’t. Ask children to predict what will happen when each piece of fabric is soaked in water and then allowed to dry.
    Conduct an experiment in which each piece of fabric is soaked and then dried. Compare the washed pieces with pieces of the same fabrics that were not washed. Encourage children to observe any changes. Connect this activity to the story and ask children why they think the dashiki shrunk.

Math: Have children measure the length and width of an adult’s size large T-shirt, an adult’s size small T-shirt, and a child’s T-shirt. Tell children to pretend the largest T-shirt is Dad’s dashiki, the medium size one is Mom’s dashiki, and the smallest one is the boy’s dashiki. Help children make a simple line graph to compare the measurements of the shirts.
    Go back to the story and discuss why the dashiki did not fit dad after it shrunk and why it did not fit mom after it shrunk again. Have children predict what would happen to the dashiki if the boy washed it in hot water. Who would the dashiki fit now? What might its measurements be? Ask children to find the place on the graph to mark the new measurements of the dashiki.

Social Studies: Look at books that have pictures of families from different countries. What other types of shirts or special clothing can children find in the pictures? How is the clothing the same and different? Discuss why people might wear traditional or culturally specific clothing. Read or revisit the Bebop titles MY FAMILY, A SPECIAL DAY, FANCY DANCE, and TUTI’S PLAY. Observe and discuss the details of the clothing and how it relates to cultural traditions.

Writing: Have children look again at page 12 of THE DASHIKI. Discuss how the words on this page serve a different purpose than the words of the story. Model how definitions are written and then have children write their own definitions for various clothing words. Read the definitions out loud and have children guess the word that is being defined.

El Dashiki

Guided Reading™: F        DRA: 10        Intervention: 10
12 pages, 104 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, and the same text features as the English edition. The use of the pictures and discussion will support children in their reading. The names of the days of the week will be familiar to children and help them follow the sequence of the story. Exclamation points are used on pages 5, 9, and 11 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.

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 PreK - 1

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Comparing/Classifying/Measuring, Vehicles In Motion, Weather/Seasons/Clothing, Time/Days Of The Week, Home, Families, Cultural Diversity, African/African American Interest, Realistic Fiction


Emergent English, Emergent Dual Language, Bebop English Guided Reading Level E, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, African American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Fiction

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