The Goat Goes to Town

By Phillis Gershator
Illustrations by Sonia Sadler


  • reading a rhythmic, rhyming text
  • following a story that contains humor
  • reading sound words
  • understanding figurative language

Supportive Text Features:

  • many high-frequency and familiar words
  • rhyming sentences
  • consistent placement of text
  • pictures support and extend the story

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

High-frequency Words: I, my, and, a, to, what, the, down, people, is, that, way, their, not, but, do, some, for, like(s), we, all, now, it, day

Getting Ready to Read

  1. Introduce the concept and vocabulary by asking open-ended questions:
    • Have you ever seen a farm animal walking around a town or city? What might happen if a farm animal walked around there?
    • Tell me what you know about goats.
    • What would you do if a goat escaped from a farm?
  2. Connect children’s past experiences with the book vocabulary:
    • Call children’s attention to the title. Read: “The Goat Goes to Town.” Talk about the Caribbean island setting of the story.
    • 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 the goat.
    • 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 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 they know about goats. Then encourage them to choose a word that would make sense in the sentence.
  4. Be aware of the following book and text features:
    • The book contains numerous high-frequency words.
    • Each page (except page 16) has four lines of text; the second and fourth lines rhyme.
    • The story begins with figurative language: “I cannot believe my ears and eyes.”
    • Sound words and words that should be read with special emphasis are written in all capital letters.
    • Exclamation points are used to emphasize the action and responses.
    • The pictures extend the story and enhance the humor.

Reading the Book

  1. Set a purpose by telling children to read what happened when a goat goes to town.

  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:
    • Do they use multiple sources of information?
    • Do they make predictions and confirm or revise them while reading?
    • Are they more able to monitor meaning and to self correct?
    • Do they know a large number of sight words?
    • Do they use punctuation appropriately?
    • Do they read more automatically and with fluency?
    • Have they begun to draw conclusions and make inferences?
  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.
    • Review using punctuation marks to guide the meaning-making process. Point out the use of quotation marks, commas, question marks, and exclamation points in dialogue.
    • Review the use of all capital letters for sound words, and all capital letters and exclamation points for emphasis.
    • Model how to revisit the text to find specific examples or ideas in the story. Revisit THE GOAT GOES TO TOWN to find the humorous elements in the story.

After the First Reading

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

  2. Focus children’s attention on the opening sentence “I cannot believe my ears and eyes.” Discuss what this means in the context of the story.
        Brainstorm other sights that might make people exclaim, “I cannot believe my eyes!” Then brainstorm some things that might make people exclaim, “I cannot believe my ears!”

  3. Connect the story with children’s experiences with animals. Discuss what people do when animals go where they shouldn’t.

  4. Elicit children’s ideas about what might have happened if the boy had not figured out how to get the goat’s attention.

  5. Encourage children to read the story aloud with appropriate expression and emphasis.

  6. Compare the goat’s behavior to Twister’s in TWISTER’S TRICKS and Sam’s in SILENT SAM.

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: Show children a lost pet notice. Talk about the information included. Have children create a poster that the boy in the story might put up if the goat ran away again.

Music: The story takes place on a Caribbean island. Play some Caribbean music for children and encourage them to dance or sway to the music. Children may also enjoy acting out the story with the music playing softly in the background.

Science: Investigate goats, their behavior, temperament, and care. Talk about why goats may or may not be good pets, depending on where a person lives.

Math: The illustrations in the book contain many simple geometric shapes. Have children search for squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, and diamonds. Make a simple bar graph showing how many of each shape children find.

Social Studies: Reread page 14 and discuss what it means to be a hero. Make a list of people who work in your community who might be considered heroes. Discuss why each person is on the list.

Writing: When a person does a heroic deed, the people who were helped often send thank-you letters. Have children pretend they are the townspeople in the story, and let children write a letter thanking the boy for helping the goat get out of the street.

Guided Reading with
una cabra en la ciudad

Guided Reading™: F        DRA: 10        Intervention: 10
16 pages, 136 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 text does not rhyme, as it does in English, but the sentences are rhythmic and simply constructed. The sound words may be unfamiliar, but they are phonetically regular. The book contains familiar punctuation marks and some words are written in all capital letters for emphasis. The humor is based on children’s understanding that goats do not belong in the city. Discussion and rereading may be helpful to children who do not readily grasp this.

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 1 - 1

Reading Level:

Grades 1 - 1


Animal/Biodiversity/Plant Adaptations, Overcoming Obstacles, African/African American Interest, Leadership, Optimism/Enthusiasm, Realistic Fiction


Emergent English, Emergent Dual Language, Bebop English Guided Reading Level G, Bebop Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, Dual Language Levels D-I Collection, African American Collection English 6PK, Multicultural Collection 10, Multicultural Collection 12, Multicultural Collection 14, Multicultural Collection 15, Multicultural Collection 11, Reading Recovery Bebop Books collection, Bebop English Fiction

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