Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

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Summary of the Story

Little Sal and her mother go to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries. Mother wants to can, or preserve, the berries so they will have food for the winter. On the other side of Blueberry Hill, a mother bear and her cub are eating blueberries to store up fat for the winter. Sal and the cub stop to rest, and when they get up, they start to follow each other's mother. Little Sal's mother and Little Bear's mother discover their children are missing and go off to find them.

Introducing the Story
  • Read the title of the book on the cover, pointing to each word as you say it. Have children repeat the title as you point to each word.
  • Tell the child that blueberries are little fruits that grow on bushes like the ones shown on the cover.

Reading the Story for the First Time

  • Read the story, moving your finger under the words as you read.
  • As you go through the book, have children locate Little Sal, Mother, and/or the bears on each page.

Recalling the Story

  • After you have finished reading, ask children the recall questions below. Continue to ask these questions when you reread the book, until he or she knows the answers.

Reading the Story Again and Again

  • Give open-ended prompts on each page. For example, ask: What are Little Sal and her mother carrying? (They are carrying pails.) What is Little Sal doing? (She is eating blueberries.) Use your finger to point to what you are asking about. Evaluate the child's response. Expand it by giving more information. Ask the child to repeat the answer.
  • You may wish to discuss the prompts shown below.

Extra Activities

  • Children can dramatize the action in the story as you reread it. Use simple props, such as pails for Little Sal and her mother and paper ears and tails for Little Bear and his mother.
  • Have children take turns in making up a new story like Blueberries for Sal. Help them decide on pairs of animals and what they might each be looking for.

Recall Questions
Ask the following questions to check children's understanding of the story.

  1. What is the title of this book? (The title is Blueberries for Sal.)
  2. Who is Sal? (Sal is the little girl.)
  3. Where do Mother and Sal go to pick blueberries? (They go to Blueberry Hill.)
  4. Who else comes to pick blueberries? (Little Bear and his mother come to pick blueberries.)
  5. What happens to Little Bear and Little Sal? (They get mixed up and start following the wrong mother.)
  6. How does Mother Bear figure out that Sal is behind her, not Little Bear? (She hears the sound of the berries going into the pail and she wonders what made the noise.)
  7. How does Sal's mother figure out that Little Bear is behind her, not Sal? (She turns around when Little Bear eats a big mouthful of berries from her pail.)
  8. How does this story end? (Mother Bear finds Little Bear and Mother finds Little Sal. Everyone goes home.)

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Excerpted from Read Together, Talk Together, the Pearson Early Childhood research-based program that makes reading aloud even more effective!

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