You are here

ELA G3:M1:U3:L3

Close Reading of Waiting for the Biblioburro: Finding the Main Message and Taking Notes

You are here:

The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can identify the main message or lesson of a story using key details from the text. (RL.3.2)
  • I can describe the characters in a story (their traits, motivations, feelings). (RL3.3)
  • I can describe how a character’s actions contribute to the events in a story. (RL.3.3)
  • I can document what I learn about a topic by sorting evidence into categories. (W.3.8)
  • I can effectively participate in a conversation with my peers and adults. (SL.3.1)

Supporting Targets

Learning TargetsOngoing Assessments
  • I can identify the main message of Waiting for the Biblioburro by reading the text closely.
  • I can describe what the librarian wanted and what he did.
  • I can sort key details from Waiting for the Biblioburro into categories.
  • I can discuss how the main message of Waiting for the Biblioburro is conveyed through key details. 
  • Close Read recording form


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A.  Engaging the Reader and Building Fluency: Read-aloud of Waiting for the Biblioburro (5 minutes)

B.  Unpacking the Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A.  Rereading on Your Own: Capturing the Gist
(25 minutes)

B.  Reading Again for Important Details: Somebody In Wanted But So (SIWBS) (20 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A.  Debrief (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

A.  Tonight at home, tell someone the story of the Biblioburro.

B.  Continue reading your own independent reading book.

  • Waiting for the Biblioburro is narrative nonfiction: a story about real people and actual events. Students have read other narrative nonfiction in this module: Rain School and Thank You, Mr. Falker. This lesson provides a bridge, helping students move to nonfiction. Students will begin to think about how they can collect information from different types of texts. The lessons that follow will focus on more typical informational text used to help students start shifting from narrative to narrative nonfiction; students’ next step will be to informational texts.
  • In advance: Because Waiting for the Biblioburro is a more complex text, students need access to excerpts from the book to complete the close reading cycle. See supporting materials for a list of appropriate excerpts.
  • For finding the meaning of words in context, use some of the Spanish vocabulary found in Waiting for the Biblioburro.
  • Review: Helping Students Read Closely (Appendix 1).



access, abecedario, biblioteca, burro, cuento, qué bueno


  • Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown (book; teacher copy only)
  • Document camera and projector
  • Excerpts from Waiting for the Biblioburo, by Monica Brown (see Teaching Note, above; one per student)
  • Close Read recording form (one per student)
  • Sticky notes
  • World map


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader and Building Fluency: Read-aloud of Waiting for the Biblioburro (5 minutes)

  • Pair students up and invite them to briefly share the map exploration they completed for homework. Did their maps have keys? What physical features did they see on their maps? If time permits, ask a few students to share their map discoveries.
  • Tell students that today they are going to be hearing and reading a new story called Waiting for the Biblioburro, by Monica Brown; tell students that this story is going to look very similar to the stories they’ve read already.
  • Help students to begin thinking about the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Remind them that some of the stories they have read were fiction: a made-up story (such as That Book Woman). Invite students to turn and talk about this key term fiction.
  • Point out that a story can be made up even if it is based on real events: There really were pack librarians who brought books to people in rural Kentucky. But Cal and his family are fictional characters.
  • Remind students that other stories they have read were based on real events, with real characters (such as Rain School or Thank You, Mr. Falker).
  • Tell them that today they will be reading a true story about a real person. It actually happened! So, they could read it for the story of it. And they can also be reading it to learn more about the topic.
  • Note: Emphasize this shift from narrative to narrative nonfiction, as students’ next step will be to informational texts. Waiting for the Biblioburro should be a “bridge text” into this, and an introduction collecting new types of information.
  • Orient students to the world map: “Before I read this book to you, I would like to show you the country on the map where Waiting for the Biblioburro takes place.” Place a marker with the book title on Colombia on the world map. Ideally use a map that shows the physical environment of South America.
  • Project the book Waiting for the Biblioburro and read the entire text slowly, fluently, without interruption. If students get excited and want to talk about the text, remind them: “Just as with the other books we have read, you will have a chance to reread this story and talk about it today and tomorrow.”
  • Allowing students to see the text and illustrations will aid them in their comprehension.
  • If a projector is not available, try providing multiple copies of the book, or positioning the book so it can best be seen by the entire class.
  • Use of the following videos might help with building background knowledge:

*   “Library on a Donkey” video

*   “Waiting for the Biblioburro” video

*   Also video on PBS:

  • Please bear in mind that Youtube, social media video sites, and other website links may incorporate inappropriate content via comment banks and ads. While some lessons include these links as the most efficient means to view content in preparation for the lesson, be sure to preview links, and/or use a filter service, such as, for actually viewing these links in the classroom.
  • Be culturally aware of students’ home countries. If a student is from Colombia, ask him or her to share about how they got books in Colombia.

B. Unpacking the Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • As usual, unpack the learning targets as needed. Students should be quite familiar with many of these targets from previous lessons. Read the targets aloud, one at a time, and have students show a quick Fist to Five to indicate how well they understand the targets. Address any confusion as needed.

Work Time

Work Time

A. Rereading on Your Own: Capturing the Gist (25 minutes)

  • Remind students of the close reading work they have done so far. During the first independent read, their job is to try to find the gist of the story. Remind them to look at it section by section. For this text students will be reading excerpts, so they can stop and find the gist of each excerpt. When they find the gist, they should jot it down on a sticky note and put it on their copy of the text.
  • Their second important job is to circle unfamiliar words as they read. Tell them that there are also words in Spanish sprinkled throughout this text. If they are not Spanish speakers, they can write these words down. Encourage students to use a similar strategy they used for That Book Woman where they tried to substitute other words for the unfamiliar word, seeing what makes sense.
  • Make sure all students are clear on the task. Distribute sticky notes and give them 10 to 15 minutes to work with the text on their own. As they work, circulate and support students as needed.
  • Then distribute the Close Read recording form. Ask students to fill in the top box, which asks for their ideas about the lesson of the story.
  • Give students 5 minutes to discuss, in small groups or partnerships, the reading work they have done so far. Remind students of the class norms for conversation.

B. Reading Again for Important Details: Somebody In Wanted But So (SIWBS) (20 minutes)

  • Gather students back in a circle. Tell them that now that they have the gist of the story and have circled unfamiliar vocabulary, they are going to collect important details that help to teach the lesson of the story.
  • Give students 5 minutes to reread the text on their own and underline the important details.
  • Then invite students to discuss their reading work in their groups. Ask students to go through each category of note-taking, giving every student in their group a chance to share his or her ideas. Tell them that, when there is a difference between two students’ ideas, it is important to notice that and discuss why each reader made the decision that he or she made.
  • Once students have discussed, have them write on their own. They should complete the recording form, including the question about how their thinking about the story’s lesson has grown or changed.

Closing & Assessments


A. Debrief (5 minutes)

  • Invite students to share responses to the question: “What do you think was the most important detail in Waiting for the Biblioburro that showed the lesson of the story?”
  • Ask the following questions to check in on students’ reading strategies: What was a success for you as a reader today? What was challenging for you? What strategies did you use to help you understand the story?




  • Tonight at home, tell someone the story of the Biblioburro.
  • Continue reading your own independent reading book.

Supporting Materials


Our newest K-5 curricula is available on a new site,
This website will be decommissioned in June 2018. Sign up for updates.