Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats


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Summary of the Story

Peter learns to whistle so that his dog will come to him.

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: Who do you think Willie is? (Willie could be the boy or the dog, but in this story Willie is the name of the little boy's dog. The little boy's name is Peter.) What is the little boy doing? (He is whistling for Willie.)

Reading the Story for the First Time

  • Read the story, moving your finger under the words as you read.
  • After reading, ask: Can you whistle? How would you whistle to make your dog come to you?

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's happening on this page? What is Peter doing? Do less reading of the words to the story each time you read, leaving more and more of the "reading" or retelling to the children.
  • Give prompts about objects or activities in the pictures. For example, ask: Where is Peter hiding? Use your finger to point to what you are asking about. Evaluate children's response. Expand it by giving more information. Ask the children to repeat the answer. If he or she 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

  • Children can read Whistle for Willie to each other.
  • Have children use simple props and dramatize the story while you read it aloud.
  • Peter has a dachshund. What other dogs do children know about? They can draw a picture of a dog they know of. Help them label the picture with the dog's name.

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

  1. What is the title of the book? (The book is called Whistle for Willie.)
  2. What is the name of the little boy in the book? Who is Willie? (The boy's name is Peter. Willie is his dog.)
  3. What does Peter want to learn how to do? (He wants to whistle.)
  4. Why does Peter want to learn how to whistle? (He wants to be able to call his dog.)
  5. Where is Peter when he discovers he can whistle? (He is hiding from his dog in a big empty carton.)
  6. What does Willie do when Peter whistles? (He stops to see who it is. Then he runs over to him.)
  7. What do Peter's parents do when he shows them he can whistle? (They congratulate him.)
  8. Where do Peter and Willie go at the end of the story? (They go on an errand to the grocery store.)


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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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