The Cay by Theodore Taylor: Close Reading Novel Study Guide

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  1. Are you looking for great literature to read aloud? Are you looking for help with close reading? This is it!! Close reading is an integral part of teaching with the standards. Students need to know how to be analytic when reading texts and poems. They need to understand how to support their thinking
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The Cay is a classic for a reason! I know my students have a fascination with survival stories and WW2.

This is a guide to a close reading of the classic, The Cay by Theodore Taylor. It was first published in 1969 and dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. It's about a young boy named Phillip who lives on the island of Curacao with his parents. When WW2 comes to the island, his mother insists they return to the states. However, their boat is torpedoed and Phillip is forced to survive on a small cay with a West Indian man and a cat.

Close reading will be an integral part of teaching with the Common Core. Students need to know how to be analytic when reading texts and poems. I have outlined the components of authentic literacy and what it looks like in the classroom. I formatted the unit as follows. It begins with an explanation of close reading and how to format a lesson. Then, there is a story summary, themes listed and character descriptions. After that, I created focus questions for each chapter. There are explicit gradual release formatted lessons sprinkled throughout. I included a close reading sheet for each of the explicit lessons. You could use the focus questions to create more close reading lessons using the blank templates or for class discussions. At the end, there is a blank sheet for planning and to use with close reading of different chapters. I hope your students enjoy it as much as my students did.

Awards for The Cay:

New York Times Best Book of the Year, Jane Addams Children's Book Award, Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Horn Book Honor Book, plus 6 more awards

I have more close reading guides in my store:

Inside Out and back Again


The Cay

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Flora and Ulysses

Rain Reign

The One and Only Ivan

A Daimond in the Desert

Fish in a Tree

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Total Pages
69 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.


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