Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Enhance reading abilities with an activity that enriches and expands children's language and emergent literacy skills.
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Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Summary of the Story

A zookeeper says good night to the animals, not realizing that the gorilla has taken his keys and let all the animals out. They all follow the zookeeper home and settle down in his bedroom. The zookeeper's wife discovers all the animals and leads them back to the zoo- all except for two, a mouse and the gorilla.

Introducing the Story
  • Read the title of the book from the cover, while pointing to each word. Say the title together as you point to each word. Ask: When do you say "good night"? (You say "good night" when it's time to go to bed.)
  • Point to the gorilla on the cover. Ask: What is the gorilla doing? (The gorilla is making the sign for quiet.)

Reading the Story for the First Time

  • After reading the first page, talk about who the man in the story is and where the gorilla and the zookeeper are.
  • Since this book has few words, you might want to tell the story with the child. As you look at the pictures, describe what is happening with or for the child. For example: Uh, oh. The little gorilla is taking the zookeeper's keys. Now the gorilla is climbing out of his cage. The zookeeper doesn't know the gorilla is right behind him.

Reading the Book Again and Again

  • Each time you read Good Night, Gorilla, leave more of the "reading" or retelling to the child. Give open-ended prompts. For example, ask: What is happening here? What is the gorilla doing now?
  • Give prompts about objects or activities in the pictures. For example, ask: What is this animal called? (It is an elephant.) 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. Good words to ask about are listed in the vocabulary section below. Be sure to talk about objects and actions the child brings up, too.
  • You may wish to discuss the prompts shown below.

Building Literacy

  • Take a trip to a zoo and try to find some of the animals in the book.

Excerpted from

Read Together, Talk Together
Pearson Early Childhood

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

About the author

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