One of my favorite read alouds to share this time of the year is Gustavo The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago.
Gustavo The Shy Ghost is a story about a shy ghost who’s just too shy to make any friends, but he really wants to try. It’s such a well written and beautifully illustrated story and a perfect read aloud for any time of the year, but especially timely for Día de los Muertos.
I love this book for all sorts of reasons and it’s such a great choice for a class read aloud. There are so many different topics and skills that can be addressed before/during/after reading.
While there are many different SEL lessons you can pull from this text, I really enjoy focusing on feelings and how they change. It’s a great text for addressing topics like making friends and being a good friend, too.
Because this story is so relatable (yes, even with a ghost as the main character!), this book serves as a perfect mentor text for learning how to make text to self connections. Have you ever been shy? Does this remind you of a time you wanted to make new friends? The list goes on and on!
Character traits can be reviewed and reinforced using Gustavo The Shy Ghost as well. Throughout the story we see how he evolves from a shy ghost with no friends to a brave ghost with a lot of them! As Gustavo changes, so does his character….from the way he thinks to how he acts and feels, we notice all the different attributes that describe who he is in each phase of his development.
Of course, discussing Gustavo’s character traits really lends itself to learning/reinforcing the concept of adjectives, too! I like to walk through the story a second time after the initial reading and pay close attention to the descriptive words in the text. There are just so many different skills that can be reinforced with this book!
I place a heavy emphasis on the word “shy” to focus on rhyming vs. non-rhyming pairs as well as the /sh/ beginning digraph. Gustavo The Shy Ghost is a great springboard for reinforcing different grammar and phonics skills and I’ll always take advantage of any opportunity I can get to do that!
Vocabulary with ANY text is always a huge focus, too. I like to ensure that I’m not just introducing the words I’ve pulled from the text, but that I’m giving my kids ample opportunities to practice using those words in and out of context. We incorporate several different vocabulary related activities into our learning after reading different books. Research suggests that we need 6-12 different exposures to a new vocabulary word before it becomes embedded in our active, working memory. Vocabulary isn’t just a , “I hope we get to that today” kind of skill, but a truly integral part of instruction.
To round out our learning, I make sure to incorporate themes from the text into our math instruction as well. Whether it’s through word problems, independent activities, or partner games, math is always a big part of the puzzle as well.
Gustavo The Shy Ghost takes place around Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. I wanted to be sure to include some factual information about this holiday so I created an non-fiction article that summarizes it’s origin, purpose, and traditions/symbols to read through after reading the book. I think it’s important to pair fiction with non-fiction text when there are ideas and topics within those fiction books that need further explanation for student understanding.
You can find all of these activities and more in the Gustavo The Shy Ghost Book Companion HERE:
And here’s a FREE download for discussing the concept of story events with Gustavo The Shy Ghost!