The Pirates Next Door


Written By: Jonny Duddle


Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Consider the front cover and illustrations throughout the book before beginning your read-through. Ask these questions to encourage your child to make predictions about the story:

What do you notice on the front cover?

What do you think will happen in this story?

Do you think the Jolley-Rogers are nice pirates or mean pirates? Why do you think that?

{Flip to a certain page} What do you think is happening in this picture?

This swash-buckling family loves to sail the seven seas, sword-fight and find treasure, like all pirates do. To set the stage for the story, ask your child “What do you know about pirates? Have you read any other stories about pirates? If so, what did the pirates in the story say and do?”


As You Read

There is a very distinct rhyme scheme present in the text so read it in a bit of a sing-song manner and emphasize the ends of each phrase. This will make the story more audibly engaging and enjoyable for both you and your child. You can also ask your child to provide more rhyming words. For example, the words “school” and “cool” are rhymed together in the story. Once you have read that rhyme, ask “Can you think of other words that rhyme with ‘school’ and ‘cool’ ?” Some examples include POOL, TOOL, and FOOL.

Vocabulary Building

To encourage vocabulary acquisition, let your child stop the read-through when s/he comes across a new word. Allow him/her to discover the meaning of the word using illustrations and words around it. Some examples of new words in The Pirates Next Door include:

1. PLANK

2. CUTLASSES

3. PETITION

Making Connections

To help your child relate with the book, ask if any events in the story remind him/her of something that has happened in his/her own life experiences. For example, when Jim Lad moves in next door and joins Tilda’s class, ask “Can you think of a time when there was a new child in our neighborhood or in your class? What did you think of that person at first? Did you become friends with him/her? Why or why not?”


After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

To ensure comprehension, ask your child these questions about the story you have just read:

What was your favorite part of the story? Who was your favorite character? Why?

What did Tilda wish for in the beginning of the story?

Why did the Jolley-Rogers have to stay on land for a little while?

How did Jim Lad and Tilda become friends?

Why didn’t the townspeople like the Jolley-Rogers? What changed their minds?

Tilda and Jim Lad teach the important lesson that it is good to be friends with those that are different from us, and not make judgments based on appearances. Ask your child, “Why was Tilda friends with Tim Lad and his family? Do you think the townspeople would have ended up liking the Jolley-Rogers if they hadn’t left gold? Why or why not?”


Activity: Hidden Treasure Hunt

Adapted from The Seasoned Mom

Supplies: paper, markers, treasure chest (can be a shoe box or any other small container), a treasure (can be candy, small toys, etc)

This activity requires some prep on your end, so plan to spend some time drawing the map and hiding your treasure before letting your child start the hunt.

  1. Start out by creating a treasure map. The one shown above involves heading outside but you can just as easily create a hunt leading your child through different parts of your home. Use markers to draw a trail that leads to two or three places on your path to the treasure.
  2. At each place on your map, you can leave little messages for your child to find on the way. For example, a message could be “You are so close, just a little further until you find what you are looking for!” Put your treasure in your treasure chest and place it in your hiding stop. Be sure that it isn’t too easy or too hard for your little one to find. Some good hiding places include under a bed (for hunts in the home) or under a tree (for hunts outside).
  3. Hand over the treasure map to your little one and let the hunt begin! For added fun, you can dress up as pirates and use pirate termanology like “Arghhhh” and “Ahoy Matey”.
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