Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

The Role of Big Books and Shared Reading, Part 2

This is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who   is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher.   To read the first article in this blog series about shared reading,   click here

In the second post of this blog series, I will introduce two Hameray books that are excellent choices for shared reading.



*Topic is of special interest to children of all ages.

*The story utilizes a repetitive sentence pattern. ("I saw a ________looking at me.")

*Page six repeats the names of the things the boy saw. Beginning letter sounds can be used as clues.

*The introductory phrase "On Halloween night" can be used to discuss breathing at comma, while the exclamation mark on page 7 allows for reading with excitement. There are quotation marks around "BOO."

*Multisyllabic words such as 'Halloween,’ 'vampire,’ 'mummy,’ 'shouted,’ 'away,’ and 'jack-o-lantern' are included.

*Sight words such as ‘a,’ ‘at,’ ‘rat,’ and ‘on’ offer multiple opportunities for the students to see and read the words.



  • Introduce the title and ask children when and where they think the story is taking place. Invite them to talk about the picture on the front cover. Quickly visit each page and asks children if they can identify objects in the pictures. Remind them that they may know the beginning sounds of these words.
  • Read the story to the children without inviting them to read with you. Read with great excitement and feeling. Tap the pointer for multi-syllable words.
  • Ask the children to predict why the characters all ran away on page 8.   How does the picture help?
  • Ask the children to discuss things that might happen next in the story.


  • As you revisit the story, invite the children to read along with you. Continue to use the pointer and read slowly enough that the children can read along with you with fluency and emotion. Children might frame sight words.
  • Reread sentences with multisyllabic words and clap out each syllable.
  • Display the following story map on the screen or board. Have the children complete the sentences:
    • On Halloween night, I saw a ______________.
    • On Halloween night I saw a _______________.
    • On Halloween night, I saw a _______________.
    • On Halloween night, I saw a _______________, a ________________, and a ____________.
    • They all ___________. (Accept various responses.)
  • Have each student write his or her own story, using the shared writing exercise as a guide. After illustrating, children can sit in groups of two or three and share their stories. Remind them that their pictures provide clues for their stories.


  • Use guided reading copies and/or big books in the class library. Allow students to read in small groups with one child assuming the role of the teacher. The shared writing could be displayed on the board as a center and the children read as a group with one child using a pointer.




  • Pages 2−6 of the book are based on a simple sentence pattern.
  • Page 7 contains a word that is repeated three times. The picture serves as a great clue for reading 'stir.’
  • Sight words "went' and 'the' are repeated on several pages.
  • Periods and exclamation marks allow for reading with fluency and emotion.
  • The phrase "In went the _______" is repeated five times.
  • Young children enjoy playing with water and dirt!


  • Share the front cover of the big book. Ask the children to name the items they see and suggest what they think the boy may do. Point to the words in the title and read the words.
  • Turn to the inside title page and reread the name of the book. Explain that the author took pictures to illustrate her book. Study the picture on the title page.   What is the boy doing?
  • Go to page 2 and read the story to the children using a pointer. Read with expression and breathe in the proper places.
  • Revisit pages 2-6 and ask a child to frame the words 'dirt,' 'water,' ‘sticks,’ 'leaves,’ and 'stones.’ After each word is framed, ask the child to frame the beginning sound and share the name of the first letter in the words. Explain that these letters can help them read the words, but the pictures can also give them clues to recognizing the word. 
  • What letter is at the end of the word ‘in’? Do you hear that 'n' as they say the word?   You can similarly model the upper and lower case "i." Remind the children that the first word in a sentence always begins with a capital letter.


  • Invite the children to read with you. Use a pointer as you read and read slowly enough that they can read with you. Pause at periods and exclamation marks and discuss their purposes.   How is the exclamation mark read differently from the period?
  • Students should recognize some capital letters. Page 6 includes both upper and lower case 'w.'
  • Discuss the plural forms on pages 4, 5, and 6.   How does adding 's' to these words change the meanings of the words?
  • As a shared writing activity, write a how-to for making FRUIT SALAD or VEGETABLE SOUP. First decide what contained to use instead of the bucket. Invite a child to write a sight word or beginning sounds for names of ingredients. The completed writing should remain posted so children can see their work. The children can then draw the ingredients they would want in their soup or salad and label each picture.


  • A guided reading copy could be taken home for reading and sharing with family.
  • The book could be reread in a guided group session for those who are ready to read the book.
  • Add the big book to a center or the class library. Students can take turns using the pointer and framing words.

In my next post, I will introduce two more Hameray books with suggestions for shared reading activities.


Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from Hameray's  Kaleidoscope Collection . She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.  


Visit our website to learn more about  Halloween Night  and  Mud Soup . Click the image below to download a brochure featuring Hameray's Big Books Collection!