Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

Use Ezra Jack Keats's book Whistle for Willie to enhance children's reading abilities. Discussion prompts, activities, and a vocabulary list will enrich and expand children's language and emergent literacy skills.
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Updated on: October 14, 2004
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Use the following questions after the second or third reading of Whistle for Willie. There are questions for every one or two pages of the story.

  1. Who is the boy in this picture? (The boy is Peter.)
  2. Why does Peter look sad? (He wishes he could whistle.)
  3. What is the man in the background doing? (He is whistling for his dog.)
  4. What is Peter doing? (He is spinning around.)
  5. What happens to Peter after he spins around? (He gets dizzy.)
  6. Have you ever spun around and around? How did you feel?
  7. Who is the dog in this picture? (It is Peter's dog, Willie.)
  8. Why is Peter sitting in the box? (He is hiding from his dog.)
  9. What are the girls doing in this picture? (They are jumping rope.)
  10. Why is there a line on the ground? (Willie drew it with chalk.)
  11. What does Peter have on his head in this picture? (He is wearing his father's hat.)
  12. Who is the woman in this picture? (She is Peter's mother.)
  13. What is Peter running away from? (his shadow)
  14. What is Peter doing? (He is trying to jump off his shadow.)
  15. Who is coming around the corner? (Willie is coming around the corner.)
  16. What is happening in this picture? (Peter hides under the box and whistles to his dog.)
  17. Why doesn't Willie know who whistled? (He doesn't see Peter, who is hiding in the box.)
  18. What's happening in this picture? (Willie is looking at Peter. He runs over when Peter says, "It's me.")
  19. What is Peter doing for his parents? (He is showing them that he can whistle.)
  20. What is his dog doing? (Willie is standing on his hind legs.)
  21. Where has Peter been? (He has been on an errand to the grocery store for his mother.)
  22. Why does he look so happy? (He looks happy because now he can whistle.)


The words listed below come from the story and its pictures. As you page through the book, ask children to name the objects listed or talk about the actions portrayed. Words are listed for every two pages of story. Ask about other objects and actions shown in the pictures as you see fit.

  • traffic light, wall, leaning
  • dog, spinning
  • being dizzy
  • hiding, empty carton
  • door, jump rope, smiling
  • cat, house plant, barber pole
  • hat, mirror, wallpaper
  • dress
  • crack in the sidewalk
  • jumping, shadow
  • looking around
  • running
  • whistling, tie, mustache
  • groceries

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!

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