Pirates vs. Cowboys

Written by: Aaron Reynolds

Illustrated by: David Barneda


Before Reading

Preview and Predict

What do pirates and cowboys have in common? Find out in this silly story by Aaron Reynolds and David Barneda. Start off by discussing the cover and making predictions about what the story will hold. Ask questions like:

What do you notice on the cover?

What animal is the pirate? What do you think his name is? Why do you think they made him an octopus?

What animal is the cowboy? What do you think his name is? Why do you think they made him a bull?

What do you think will happen in this story?


Activate Prior Knowledge

What does your child know about pirates and cowboys? Talk about what pirates like to say (argh, matey, ahoy, etc) and what cowboys like to do (ride horses, use lassos, etc). Make a chart that lists all of these qualities and then ask if s/he thinks the pirates and cowboys in this story will be similar to the ones s/he has read and heard about before. Then, start your read-through and find out!

As You Read

Build Language

If your child can read on his/her own, you can choose to alternate reading pages or text. Perhaps one of you would like to read Burnt Beard's dialogue and the other would like to read Black Bob McKraw's dialogue. This way, you can each impersonate a character and bring it to life in your own ways! If you are doing all of the reading, be sure to use different voices for each character and reading with enthusiasm! There is a lot of pirate and cowboy terminology that may not be familiar to your child, so encourage him/her to stop the reading when coming across a new word. Examples of new words from Pirates vs. Cowboys include:



Monitor Comprehension

Every once in awhile, take a moment to clump the information that your child has been presented with thus far. Ask questions about how the story relates to your child's life, different parts of the story, as well as the real world. Why did the pirates have to come further inland? What will happen next? Why do you think they are both so smelly? Why don't pirates and cowboys speak the same language? Have you ever met some who speaks a different language than you? 

When Burnt Beard and Black Bob McKraw begin name-calling, you can take this opportunity to talk about teasing and name-calling. Even though they can't understand each other, they can learn a lot from each other's body language and faces. 


After Reading

Make Connections

Help your child look at the story as a whole once you've completed your read-through by asking/discussing questions like:

Did you like the story?

What happened in this story? What was your favorite part?

Why do you think the cowboys didn't like it when the pirates came to town?

Are the pirates and cowboys in this story like the ones you've read about in other stories? Why/why not?

Have you ever met someone that was different from you and then realized that you had something in common?

I wonder what would have happened if Pegleg Highnoon hadn't been there?

What lesson did the main characters learn? 

Extending the Story

Why Choose Between Pirates and Cowboys When You Can Be Both?

Lucky for us, there are plenty of fun and engaging activities surrounding cowboys and pirates to choose from. Maybe you want to create a cool egg carton treasure box or have a cowboy fashion photo shoot? Use the things you have around the house and get creative! A belt can be used as a lasso and a broom can become a big, strong horse. And in keeping with the spirit of the story, mix and match some of the activities! Have your cowboy photo shoot but throw in a pirate's hook! The possibilities are endless!


STEM Extensions

A pirate can make real use of a compass to guide the way on his/her journeys. They can be used to find their way back home, follow a map to buried treasure, etc. Follow the directions for this activity to create your own!