Author: Robert McCloskey

4-Year-Olds Storybooks

Make Way for Ducklings is a classic award-winning book about a mother duck looking after her babies. This book is as enjoyable for a parent to read as it is for a child to listen to. After listening to this story, your child will wish this friendly family of ducks lived close by!

Before, During and After Reading

Oral Language

Talk about migration. Tell your child that birds sometimes fly a long distance in order to find food or warmer weather. In this story, the mother duck is flying with her ducklings to find a new place to live. The problem is how to get them there safely.  

Introduce the book. Tell your child the title of the book, the author and the illustrator. Read the story to find out who helped the duck family safely get to a new home.  


Oral Language

Introduce new vocabulary. As you read the story, pause at words your child may be unfamiliar with.  Give your child simple definitions of the new words. Some words in the story you may choose to define are: enormous, horrid, molt, responsibility, satisfied. Use the new words in context. For example:  A duckling is very small, but the skyscraper is enormous. 

Phonological Awareness

Break words into syllables. Tell your child that words are made up of smaller parts called syllables. You can encourage your child to “flap” her arms like a duck for each part or syllable in a word. Provide words from the story such as enormous (3 syllables), mallard (2 syllables), flap (1 syllable), duck (1 syllable), Boston (2 syllables). As you say the words, ask your child to flap her arms once for each part of the word. You can also ask your child to clap the syllables, if that is easier.

Talk about rhyming words. All of the ducklings have rhyming names like Jack, Kack and Lack. See if your child can think of another word that rhymes with Jack, Kack or Lack. If she can’t think of one, give an example.   

Letter Knowledge

Practice with your child’s name. Tell your child that ducklings are hatched from eggs. Invite your child to make and play a game with you. Locate plastic eggs that open. Have your child write her name on a piece of paper. Assist your child with cutting her name apart so that every letter is on a separate piece of paper. Place each letter inside a plastic egg and close it. Place all the eggs in a basket or bowl.  Have your child pull one egg at a time, open it, say the name of the letter and the sound it makes, and then place the letter on the table. Once all the eggs have been opened, have your child arrange the letters in the correct order to spell her name.  Provide a model of her name if necessary.

Beginning Writing

Create a calendar of your own. In the story, Mr. Mallard told Mrs. Mallard, “I’ll meet you in a week.”  Does your child know what a week means? Show her a calendar and read the seven days of the week.   Invite your child to draw a picture of something she would like to do for each day of the week such as on Monday go for a bike ride, on Wednesday go for a walk or Saturday go to the park. At the end of the week have your child draw a picture of her favorite adventure.

Learn more about the important pre-reading skills you're helping to strengthen in your child, and complete the Reading BrightStart! Preschool Reading Screener. The screener can help you determine if your four-year-old is on the path to reading readiness, and comes with a free plan for moving forward.