The Old Man and His Door by Gary Soto

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Summary of the Story

An old man misunderstands his wife's instructions and brings a door (la puerta) to a party instead of a pig (el puerco). Along the way, the old man uses the door to help out a girl with a crying baby, to escape swarming bees, to carry a tired goose, to rescue a drowning boy, and to help a man move a piano. Each time he receives a gift, which he brings to the party along with the door.

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.
  • Open the book and point to the picture on the title page. Ask: What is the man looking through? (He is looking through the peephole in the door.) What else is in the picture? (the back end of a pig)

Reading the Story for the First Time

  • Read the story, moving your finger under the words as you read. If necessary, refer to the glossary in the front of the book for help in pronouncing the Spanish words.

Recalling the Story

  • Give open-ended prompts on each page. For example, ask: What is happening in this picture? What does the old man do next? Do less reading of the words, leaving more of the "reading" or retelling to the child.

Reading the Story Again and Again

  • Give prompts about objects or activities in the pictures. For example, ask: What kind of tool does he have? (He has a hoe.) 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. 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

  • Have children name other ways they think the old man could use the door.
  • Collect some simple props, such as a large piece of cardboard to use as the door, and have children act out the story as you reread it.
  • Children can read the book 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 The Old Man and His Door.)
  2. Who is the main character in this book? (The main character is the old man.)
  3. Where are the old man and his wife going? (They are going to a barbecue.)
  4. What does the old man's wife want him to bring to the party? (She tells him to bring the pig.)
  5. What does he take instead? Why? (He takes the door because la puerta, which is the word for door, sounds like el puerco, the word for pig.)
  6. Who does the old man help first on his way to the barbecue? (He helps the baby stop crying by playing peek-a-boo with her.)
  7. How does the old man use the door next? (He uses it to hide from some bees.)
  8. What happens each time the man helps someone? (He gets a present.)
  9. What does the man bring to the barbecue? (He brings the door, an egg, some honey, a fish, and two watermelons.)

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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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