Author: Patricia Polacco

5-Year-Olds Storybooks

Thunder Cake is the story of a little girl who is afraid of thunderstorms. The book is easy for children to relate to and rich in sophisticated vocabulary. Through the reading of this book, your child will be exposed to rare words and sophisticated language that he would be unlikely to hear in his everyday life. Words like tumbling, shudder, surveyed, scurried and jagged appear within the book. Building your child’s vocabulary will improve his comprehension when he later learns to read.

Before, During and After Reading

Oral Language

Introduce the book.  Read the title and the author’s name and talk with your child about what is happening in the illustration on the cover. Ask your child to look at the illustration and describe the setting of the story (where the story takes place). Introduce the book by describing the problem in the story. 

To describe the problem, you might say: This is a story about a little girl who was afraid of thunderstorms, but her wise grandmother helped her to overcome her fears. Let’s find out what the grandmother did to help the little girl feel safe in thunderstorms. 

Oral Language

Use illustrations as clues.  Take time to talk about the details of the elaborate illustrations as you move through the book. You might ask questions that require your child to use the illustrations as clues. 

For example:  Look at the picture and tell me how Grandma knows that a storm is coming. How does Grandma know that the little girl is hiding under the bed? What did Grandma do to make the little girl feel better?

Talk about the main characters of the book (the little girl and her Grandma). 

Define new vocabulary. Since this book is so vocabulary-rich, you may want to write simple definitions on small post-it notes. Place the definitions on the pages where the words appear as a reminder for you to talk about the new words. Invite your child to act out some of the vocabulary words. 

For example, after you talk about the definition of the word scurried, ask your child to show you what it looks like to scurry. Introduce just two to three new words each time you read the story. If you try to define all the words, your child may not be able to follow the story line. 

Beginning Writing

Draw and label a picture. Ask your child to think about something that makes him scared. Maybe it is thunderstorms like the little girl in the story. Maybe it is something else. Ask him to draw a picture to represent his fear. Ask him to label his drawing, assisting as necessary. 

Explore other recommended children’s books and reading activities for five-year-olds, or take the Reading BrightStart! Preschool Reading Screener. The screener can help you determine if your child is on the path to reading readiness, and provides a free plan for moving forward.