Can I Keep Him? by Robert McCloskey


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Summary of the Story

A little boy brings home first a dog and then a kitten, and asks his mother, "Can I keep him?" When she says no, he pretends to bring home other animals as pets — a fawn, a bear, a tiger cub, a python, and a dinosaur. She has a reason why each one is not a good pet. When he brings a neighbor child over to play, his mother tells them to go outside and play.

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.
  • Point to the picture on the cover. Ask: What do you think is happening in this picture? (Accept all responses.)

Reading the Story for the First Time

  • Read the story, moving your finger under the words as you read.
  • After the boy brings home the dog and the cat, he starts to imagine other animals he could have as pets. Point out the pictures that indicate the boy is pretending.
  • After reading, ask: What do you think the boy's mom would say if he brought home a bird? Why?

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 is happening in this picture? What has the little boy brought home now? Do less reading of the words to the story each time you read, leaving more of the "reading" or retelling to the child.
  • Give prompts about objects or activities in the pictures. Ask what, where, when, why, and how questions. For example, ask: What is in the boy's backyard? (The dog he brought home is in the backyard.) What is the boy's grandma carrying? (She is carrying two suitcases.) Use your finger to point to what you are asking about. Evaluate children's response. Expand it by giving more information. Ask the child to repeat the answer. If a child needs help in answering a question, ask that question again the next time you read the book.
  • You may wish to discuss the prompts shown below.

Extra Activities

  • Play a question-and-answer game with children. Have one child name an animal and ask if he or she can keep it. Have another child make up a reason why the animal is not a good pet.
  • Have children read Can I Keep Him? to each other.

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

  1. What is the name of this book? (The book is called Can I Keep Him?)
  2. What is this book all about? (It is about a little boy who wants someone to play with.)
  3. What animal does the little boy bring home first? (He brings home a big dog.)
  4. What does the little boy bring home next? (He brings home a tiny kitten.)
  5. Does the boy bring home a real fawn? (No, he pretends he has found one and goes home to ask his mom if he can keep it.)
  6. Why does his mom think a bear is a bad pet? (Bears smell bad.)
  7. Does his mom let him keep Ralph? What does she say? (She says you can't keep a person as a pet. She says that Ralph could be his friend.)
  8. What is the little boy imagining in the last picture? (He is imagining a bird as a pet.)


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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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