Shared Reading: Benny’s Special Day

Written by Tara Harte
Illustrated by Patricia Storms

Text Type: Fiction: Description—Rhyming Poem

Summary: This illustrated rhyming poem describes a dog who doesn’t think that he is special until he meets some new friends who teach him how special he really is.

Text Features
Print Concepts
• four line stanzas with second and fourth lines rhyming
• punctuation: quotation marks and question marks

Visual Literacy
• illustrations to support text
• environmental print: numbers on the hopscotch game


Reading Strategies

• a range of comprehension strategies is integrated throughout the lesson
(Analyzing, Sequencing, Making Connections, Predicting, Inferring, Synthesizing, Evaluating, Self–Monitoring)
• the comprehension purpose for reading focuses on Analyzing/inferring

Working with Words
• comprehending vocabulary from context and pictures

Assessment Opportunities
Note each student’s ability to:
• attend to print
• join in with echo reading
• analyze visual information and infer meaning from the pictures
• ask and respond to questions
• apply the inquiry question to themselves to determine what makes them special

Time: approximately 30–35 minutes


Establishing the Inquiry Focus
  • We have read about a little girl who is so happy that she is just who she is and that makes her special. What makes you special? Is it something you can do? Turn and tell a partner what you think makes you special.

    Remind students that we have been talking about what makes each of us special. Ask students again what they think makes them special.
  • Now we are going to read a poem about some dogs that know how they are special and one that is unsure how he is special.

    Prepare the way for further inquiry by discussing how we might find out what is special about ourselves and others.
  • Who do we think the characters in the book might be? Who is Benny? What might his special day be? Why do you think it is his special day? Does the title help us think about that?

    Show students the front and back covers of Benny’s Special Day and read the names of the author and illustrator. Provide prompts to discuss the possible content of the book. [Inferring/predicting]
  • What do you think the new friend could do to help Benny figure out how he is special?

    Read the blurb on the back to students and ask them what the new friend might do to help him. [Predicting]
  • Explain to students that we will try to find out about who Benny is and what is so special or important about this day.
Activating and Building Background Knowledge
  • It’s a special day for me when I plant my garden vegetables and flowers with my granddaughters. It’s wonderful to have them help me and learn about gardening.

    Ask students to think about what would be a special day for them. Provide an example.
  • Students can discuss with a partner what a special day might be for them.
Setting a Purpose for Reading
  • The poem and the pictures have information about Benny and his friends so we’ll read slowly to let you look at them carefully. Let’s see what Benny’s special day is.

    Ask students to read with you to find out what makes this a special day for Benny. [Analyzing/inferring]


  • Begin reading Benny’s Special Day and invite the students to join in. Track print with a pointer. (Joining–in will likely be limited on the first reading as the text is unfamiliar.)

Teaching Tip: There are many new features (stanzas, quotation marks, question marks) on each page of this book so you may consider using ‘echo reading’ to offer extra support to the students as they read. Read a stanza, invite students to read it following your model, and keep alternating. Students who are comfortable will be able to join–in more quickly with later readings.

  • Pause to look at the pictures and discuss the ideas after the conclusion of each complete thought, e.g., at the end of each stanza or two, or the end of a page. Vary between asking students to discuss as a whole group and with partners.
  • Discuss ideas by offering prompts:
    • Do all cities have green parks for dogs to run and play? [Making connections]
    • Is there one near to where you live? [Making connections]
    • Do you have a dog? [Making connections]
    • What kind of dogs are these? [Analyzing/inferring/making connections]
    • Do you think the other dogs will let Benny play with them? [Predicting/inferring]
    • What kind of dog is the white dog? [Making connections]
    • What is special about the white dog? What can she do? [Analyzing]
    • What kind of dog is the black dog? [Making connections/inferring/analyzing]
    • What is special about the black dog? What can he do? [Analyzing]
    • What kind of dog is the grey dog? [Making connections/analyzing/inferring]
    • What is special about the grey dog? What can he do? [Analyzing]
    • How does Benny feel? [Inferring/analyzing/making connections]
    • How does Benny feel about the skunk? Is it different from how the other dogs feel? [Evaluating/analyzing/making connections]
    • What is special about Benny? What does he do? [Inferring/analyzing]
    • Who helped Benny realize he was special too? [Analyzing]
  • Show me how you would twirl.

    Clarify any vocabulary that may limit comprehension, e.g., ‘twirl,’ ‘yo–yo,’ ‘Frisbees,’ ‘fetcher,’ ‘guard dog,’ ‘skunk,’ ‘hopscotch.’ Use the pictures to support the discussion where appropriate. Invite students to act out some of the verbs to solidify their understanding of unknown vocabulary.


  • Talk to your partner about how the dogs changed over the story. How did Benny change over the story, or did he?

    Ask how the dogs behaved toward Benny and how Benny felt. Look back at the pages that relate to the students’ comments. [Inferring/synthesizing]
  • What did we find out about Benny and how was this his special day?

    Ask students why this day was special to Benny. [Analyzing/synthesizing]
  • How did Benny find out what is special about himself? What happened?

    Ask students how Benny found out what was special about himself. [Analyzing/synthesizing]
  • Sometimes we can help others think about their special qualities by the things we say to them. The dogs told Benny he was special because he was not afraid to meet someone new, and the skunk told Benny that he was special because he was kind.

    Discuss how saying something can sometimes help others to recognize something special about themselves.
  • It is important that we let others know about their special qualities. I know that I tell my granddaughter how special she is because she shares her toys with her little sister and helps her to learn how to use them. What can you tell your friends about them to let them know they are special? Tell a partner what you could tell a friend.

    Ask students what they could say to let someone else know what makes them special. Model for the students, have them share with a partner, and then have partners share some of their suggestions with the class. [Evaluating/making connections/synthesizing]
  • How do you play hopscotch? Let’s practise playing as we go back to our desks.

    You may wish to create a hopscotch game for your classroom using masking tape on the floor. At recess, your or the students may wish to draw a hopscotch game on the playground using sidewalk chalk.
    Note: Various designs for hopscotch games can be found on the Internet by typing in ‘hopscotch images.’
  • Have students use the Story Characters BLM to make stick puppets of the dogs and skunk. Have each student choose one of the four types of dog or the skunk to colour. Attach each coloured picture to a craft stick with glue or tape to make it into a stick puppet. Invite students to retell the story using the stick puppets.


Reading Strategies

• a range of comprehension strategies is integrated throughout the lesson.
• the comprehension purpose for reading focuses on Sequencing

Working with Words
• recognizing high–frequency words
• learning about question marks
• rhyming words

Assessment Opportunities
Note each student’s ability to:
• show interest in the inquiry
• participate in reading along with you
• sing along with the audio on the Media Key or online
• recognize high–frequency words
• recognize rhyming words
• sequence story events

Time: approximately 30–35 minutes


Revisiting the Inquiry Focus
  • How did Benny find out that there was something special about himself? Who helped him make that discovery?

    Ask students to think about Benny, the other dogs, and what happened in the story to make Benny feel special. Invite students to share their ideas with a partner. [Synthesizing/analyzing]
Activating and Building Background Knowledge
  • What do you like to do when you go to the park? Do you go with a friend? What is your favourite thing to do at the park?

    Ask students what they do when they go to the park. Have them tell a partner. [Making connections]
Setting a Purpose for Reading
  • Tell students that the class will be listening to a song that goes with the book. Ask students to sing with you as they follow along with

    As we sing the song, think about who Benny met first, second, and what happened as he was with each dog and the skunk.

    the story and to think about what happened first, second, and third in the story. [Sequencing]


  • As the poem has good picture support and rhyme, encourage students to join in with part or all of the singing/rereading. The repetition of the last part of the final stanza on pages 4, 6, and 8 will help most participate. You may wish to sing the song all the way through the first time before replaying it to stop and discuss.
  • Pause at the end of the first page to revisit the sequence of events. Pausing at the end of the page avoids disruption of the song and

    Who did Benny meet first? What happened?

    flow of the language. [Sequencing]
  • Pause at the end of each page to discuss what was happening, who came next in the story, what was special about each character being introduced, and how Benny was feeling. [Inferring/sequencing]
Teaching Tip: This song lends itself well to having students move to the music, especially after they have heard it a few times. They can act out each character’s actions, for example:
  • white dog—twirling, dancing, or standing on one toe
  • Benny—looking down at the ground
  • black dog—jumping
  • grey dog—standing tall and looking strong
  • skunk—waddling over to Benny


  • In this story we can tell who is saying what by looking at the quotation marks around what the character is saying. Let’s look at what Benny says. Let’s say it like Benny would as he comes up to the group of dogs.

    Discuss the use of quotation marks and what they mean. Start with Benny on page 2, pointing to the quotation marks around what Benny says. You may wish to develop a ‘voice’ for each of the characters.
  • We’re going to replay the song and look at the pages. Hold up your puppet as our character is brought into the story. Don’t forget that you can sing along with your part. For instance, if you are the white dog, you can sing when it says, “Hi. My friends call me Flo…”

    Ask students to recap the sequence of events in the story using the stick puppets that they made last lesson. Discuss how this can be done and demonstrate for students using the first and second stanza and the stick puppet for Benny. Place students in groups of five, with each student having one of the puppet sticks to represent one of the five characters: Benny, white dog, black dog, grey dog, and skunk. [Sequencing]

Note: You may need to have a set of puppets as well to guide and show the students when to hold up their puppet as you go through the song and book. You may wish to sing and show the puppets a few times.

  • Let’s reread the story with our puppets and talk about what happens first, second, next, and last. We can say what our character says, just like in the story.

    Ask students to take the role of their puppet and help with the rereading of the text.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to discuss the sequence with a small group with each taking turns doing their part in the story.
Working with Words
  • When we read this stanza, let’s listen for words that rhyme or sound the same at the end.

    Reread and discuss some of the rhyming words. Reread the first stanza and ask what words rhyme or sound the same at the end. Read other stanzas and have students work in pairs to select the rhyming words. Invite partners to share the rhyming words they found with the group.
  • There are several words from the kindergarten high–frequency word list that appear in the book: ‘I,’ ‘the,’ ‘a,’ ‘and,’ ‘in,’ ‘play,’ ‘do,’ ‘can,’ ‘at,’ ‘like,’ ‘to,’ ‘no,’ ‘me,’ ‘is,’ and ‘it.’ Identify one word such as ‘and,’ reread the text containing the word, and frame it with a cardboard word frame, a rectangle of coloured acetate, water–soluble highlighter, or Wikki Stix.
  • Look at the word ‘and.’ What letter does it start with? How many letters are in the word? Let’s tap the word giving one tap for each letter, a…n…d… says ‘and.’

    Ask students to identify the selected high–frequency word on each of the next pages as the text is reread. Do a brief activity to help them remember the word. (See the Let’s Clap, Chant, and Tap our Words lesson plan in the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide, page 57.)
  • You may wish to provide more hands–on practise by having students build high–frequency words with magnetic letters. (See the Building High–Frequency Words lesson plan in the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide, page 77.)
  • You may wish to focus on a target word in a morning message by having students suggest how to make a sentence using a word such as ‘and.’ (See the Help Me Write the Message lesson plan in the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide, page 45.)


Reading Strategies

• a range of comprehension strategies is integrated throughout the lesson
• the comprehension purpose for reading focuses on Predicting/inferring/

Working with Words
• building words

Assessment Opportunities
Note each student’s ability to:
• join–in with the reading
• predict/infer what might happen if other characters joined the group
• build words from letters

Time: approximately 30–35 minutes


Revisiting the Inquiry Focus
  • When I think of Benny, I remember him looking down and saying he was unsure if he was special. Do you think Benny is special? Why do you say that? How can we help someone feel special?

    Ask students if Benny is special and if he had any help in deciding what made him special. Have students tell a partner what they think. [Evaluating/synthesizing]
Activating and Building Background Knowledge
  • What does it mean to be special? How can someone show that he or she is special? How are you special?

    Ask students what they have learned about being special. [Self–monitoring/synthesizing]
  • If you could be one of the characters in the story, which one would you choose? Why would you be that character? What about that character did you like?

    Ask students to choose one of the characters in the story that they would like to be and to tell why. [Evaluating/self–monitoring]
Setting a Purpose for Reading
  • As we read the story again, think about what has changed for the dogs and what would happen if another dog or animal joined the group.

    Ask students to think about how the dogs changed and what they think would happen if another dog joined the group of dogs and the skunk. [Predicting/inferring/synthesizing]


  • Read the story together, encouraging student participation in the reading. Most students should be joining–in more confidently during this third reading.
  • Pause at the end of pages to discuss what is happening, how Benny is feeling, what change is taking place for the dogs, and why this change is happening. Offer prompts:
    • What is the white dog feeling? [Inferring/analyzing]
    • How do we know how Benny feels? [Inferring]
    • What change do we see in the illustrations of Benny as we read through what the black and the grey dogs say? [Analyzing/inferring/evaluating]
    • How does the skunk change the feelings that Benny has about himself? [Inferring/synthesizing]
    • How do you think the other dogs would react if another dog or other animal joined the group? [Predicting]


  • What change took place for the animals in how they were feeling about Benny? Why did that change take place?

    After reading the text, ask partners to discuss how the animals have changed in the story and why. [Evaluating/synthesizing]
  • Do you know anyone who has had a similar experience to Benny? How did they feel? What happened?

    Ask students if they, or anyone they know, have experienced anything like what Benny did in the story. [Making connections]
  • How do you think the other dogs would act if another animal joined the group? How would Benny react to the new character? What do you think would happen?

    Ask students to talk in partners about what they think would happen if another animal joined the group. [Predicting]
  • Extend the ideas of the students using a modelled/shared writing session to add to the poem about another animal joining the group. Chart their ideas and invite their participation in the writing by having them contribute ideas and ‘sharing the pen,’ especially for the high–frequency words that have been learned. Student illustrations could be added for the new animal.
  • Place the song and the stick puppets in a centre so that groups can revisit the song and re–enact the story together.
Working with Words
  • For a demonstration lesson for the following word solving and building activity, see Literacy Place for the Early Years Kindergarten Working with Words Guide, pp. 61–64. See also the reproducible letter cards on pages 111–128 of the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide. [Building words]

Key Word: special
Context: Benny’s Special Day, cover and pages 4, 6, 8, 14

Building Words

claps special
Word Pattern Sorts
Words starting with ‘s’ rhyming pattern ‘ap’
Transfer to a Reading Context
  • tap (Please turn off the water tap.)
  • so (Sophie was so hungry.)
Transfer to a Writing Context
  • nap (I want to write ‘I will take a nap.’ Which rhyming pattern will help me spell nap?)
  • slipper (I want to write ‘Cinderella lost her slipper.’ Which letter does slipper start with?)


Many texts benefit from being reread with students to enable the books to become familiar and to increase participation in the shared reading. Over time, share the pointer with students in turn, so that they demonstrate how to track print in the big book.

Teaching Tip: Rereadings can occur with a whole–class group or in small groups. If you have students who need more support, consider a small–group session using the small versions of the text to provide more individualized assistance.

In each rereading, select ideas from the following three areas based on the needs of your students:

Print Concepts, Book Handling, and Text Features
  • Where do we start to read? Point to the first letter in that word. What is the next word? Where do we move now? (Movement to the next line)

    Encourage students to participate in using the pointer to track print. Their confidence will develop as the text becomes more familiar. Offer prompts to refine and expand print concepts. (Tracking print)
  • Look at the big (capital) ‘D’ and small (lower case) ‘d’ on page 2. (Print concepts)
  • Look at the question marks on page 2. (Text features)
Focusing on Comprehension
  • Reread to focus on the point of view of the skunk. Offer prompts:
    • Do you think the skunk thought the little dog would run away? [Analyzing]
    • Do you think that the skunk often got a chance to share things? [Inferring]
    • How did the skunk usually feel when he approached someone? [Inferring]
    • How did the skunk feel about Benny? [Analyzing/synthesizing]
  • Display the digital cloze version of the text on the Media Key. Working with the whole class, or with a small group, reread together and encourage students to supply the missing words (spaces for the words highlighted in yellow.) You may decide to pause to consider word predictions and prompt, “Does that make sense?” or “Does that sound right?” Then click on the colour–highlighted spot to reveal the word, saying, “Let’s check that out.” An option on the tool bar allows you to create your own cloze versions of the text to meet the needs of the students in your class. Click on the ‘Help’ button to find out how to use the different features of the digital texts.
Working with Words
  • You can choose to focus on any of the high–frequency words (‘I,’ ‘can,’ ‘the,’ ‘a,’ ‘in,’ ‘do,’ ‘at,’ ‘like,’ ‘to,’ ‘no,’ ‘me,’ ‘is,’ or ‘it’ for lessons. (See the Introducing Word Wall Words lesson in the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide, page 48.)
  • Take a word from the story, e.g., ‘can’ and build rhyming words with large-size letter cards in the pocket chart. (See the reproducible large letter cards on pages 115–128 in the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide.) You may also encourage students to make the words with small letters. (See the reproducible small letter cards on pages 111–114 in the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide.) Some possible rhyming words to use: ‘fan,’ ‘man,’ ‘ban,’ ‘tan,’ ‘van,’ ‘Fran,’ ‘Dan,’ ‘pan,’ and ‘Jan.’

    Here is the word ‘can’ from our story. If I take off the first letter, I have the word ‘an.’ How can I make the word ‘ran’ in the sentence, ‘The dog ran away.’? (Say the word ‘ran’ slowly and ask what sound is heard at the beginning of the word.) Which letter should I choose?

  • Try oral rhyming with words from the story, e.g., show the word ‘tree,’ say the word, and ask students to think of rhymes (‘we,’ ‘see,’ ‘free,’ ‘gee,’ ‘he,’ ‘be,’ ‘bee,’ ‘key,’ ‘me,’ ‘knee’). Ask students to think of a sentence for each rhyming word. They can work in partners as they put each word in a sentence.

Teaching Tip: After several rereadings, the big book, the set of stick puppets, the six small books, and the fluent reading of the text and the song can be transferred to centres. They can be used for rereading and practising print tracking, for building fluency of an increasingly familiar text, and for extending comprehension through story retelling.


You may consider using some of the following suggestions to extend the inquiry.

  • Continue to discuss how each person is special and what makes them special. Highlight some of the special things your students do during the course of the unit and year.
  • Read aloud other stories that demonstrate what makes a person special. Some suggestions include:
   Literacy Place for the Early Years materials:
    • David’s Drawings by Cathryn Falwell (Read Aloud) (Fiction: awareness of oneself as unique)
    • It’s My World (Shared Reading): “All Mine” by Bobbi Katz (Fiction: awareness of oneself as unique)
   Other materials:
    • Each One Special by Frieda Wishinsky and H. Werner Zimmermann: Orca Book Publishers, 2001 (Fiction: a young boy helps a baker find out how to keep his special creativity going)
    • Daft Bat by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross: Sterling Publishing Co., 2008 (Fiction: learning to look at something from someone else’s point of view)
    • The Cow That Laid an Egg by Andy Cutbill: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2007 (Fiction: a cow that does not feel special is helped to feel special by other farm friends)