The Silly Chicken

The cover for The Silly Chicken

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By Idries Shah
Illustrated by Jeff Jackson
Ages: 3–8

ISBN: 978-1-883536-19-0 (hardback) $18.00
ISBN: 978-1-942698-19-7 (paperback) $11.90
32 pages

A delightful and humorous tale about a chicken who learns to speak as we do. What follows will intrigue young children and, at the same time, alert them in a very amusing way to the dangers of being too gullible. This is illustrator/animator Jeff Jackson’s first children’s book. It expresses his unique ability to create a lively and amusing world, rich in color and in which anything can happen.

“…this quirky, good-natured fable, with bright, aptly comical pictures, ably illustrates the maxim, it’s important not to believe everything you hear.” Booklist
“Set in the Middle East, Shah’s retelling of a Sufi story sends a gentle message to readers: just because someone says it’s so, does not make it so…With its simple language and repeating phrases, the story begs to be told, and Jackson’s colorful pastel illustrations lend a zany accent to the antics. It’s a classic case of ‘the sky is falling’ from an ancient culture, and it still has the ring of truth today” School Library Journal
“In this story, a talking chicken creates anxiety and disorder in a community until people realize that just because a bird can speak, marvelous though that may be, it doesn’t mean the bird knows what it’s talking about. Like other stories of its kind, this one uses the ancient Eastern technique of attributing common foibles to foolish characters, gently allowing readers to recognize their own gullibility … it helps children to develop the habit of critical thinking.” Denise Nessel, Ph.D., Senior Consultant with the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (U.S.), writing in Library Media Connection: The Professional Magazine for School Library Media Specialists
“… a humorous tale that will intrigue young children and alert them to the dangers of being too gullible.” Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature
Available from Amazon in hardback, paperback and Kindle. Also available from the Apple iBooks Store.


Fun Projects
Step-by-step instructions for creating finger puppets (PDF): The Silly Chicken finger puppets

Step-by-step instructions for creating paper bag puppets (PDF): The Silly Chicken paper bag puppets

Step-by-step instructions for creating felt characters (PDF): The Silly Chicken felt characters

Manuals & Tips
Hoopoe Books Reader’s Theater
Giving Students a Reason to Read, and Re-Read, Aloud

Download the printable instruction here.
Download the printable one-act dramatic play here.
Download the reading skills assessment chart here.


  • The reader’s theater strategy combines students’ desire to perform with their need for oral reading practice. Reader’s theater offers an entertaining and engaging means of improving fluency through repetition, reading with expression, and enhancing comprehension.
  • Reader’s theater is a way to involve students in reading aloud. In reader’s theater, students “perform” by reading the Hoopoe books’ scripts created for this purpose. Students can perform the scripts with or without costumes or props.


  • Reader’s theater is a strategy that combines reading (and re-reading) practice and performing. Its goal is to enhance students’ reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading with a purpose. Reader’s theater gives students an authentic reason to read aloud.


  • Re-Reading to Develop Fluency:

Reader’s theater motivates reluctant readers and English language learners, and provides fluent readers the opportunity to explore genre and characterization. Hoopoe Books Reader’s Theater scripts can be used as early as first-grade. Re-reading is a key factor in developing fluency, which is necessary for comprehension. Students don’t even realize they are re-reading as they practice the script.

  • Re-Reading to Develop Understanding:

The value of reader’s theater is increased when used as a strategy for increasing understanding of what is being read. Students also practice reading with expression when they take on the roles in the script.

  • Re-Reading to Develop Voice:

Reader’s theater is a wonderful technique for helping readers learn to read aloud with expression and joy. Performing reader’s theater without props allows the readers to learn that the inflection in their voices needs to provide much of the drama of the story.


  • I love watching my English language learners gain more fluency and confidence as they perform the Hoopoe Books Reader’s Theaters,” says educator and I Have a Dream volunteer, Leanne Lockhart. “They love hamming it up and making costumes and scenery too.”


Some students are hams — they just don’t know it until they get up in front of the group. There is no risk in reader’s theater, because no memorization is required. And, there’s opportunity for practice, so struggling readers are not put on the spot.

  • Hand out a photocopied Hoopoe script
  • Assign a part to each child
  • Have her simply read the script aloud and act it out. That’s all you have to do.

“Magic” occurs when the students get to be on stage — even if that stage is the floor of the classroom or library. Shy children may blossom, and students develop a strong sense of community.


  • Start slowly so students feel comfortable in the performance mode. Students do not memorize their parts; they always read from their scripts. Provide lots of opportunities for practice.
  • Read the book several times, offering instructional support for new vocabulary, and for understanding the different characters. You can do many other activities with the story to develop understanding before doing the reader’s theater. *A complete set of lesson plans can be found on Hoopoe’s website.
  • Students simply stand or sit in a semicircle or on a stage, if one is available.
  • Model each character’s part and match roles to readers.
  • If you have a larger group than the number of roles, you may have several readers’ theater groups going simultaneously.
  • Work with small groups, not with the entire class, if possible.
  • You might invite families or caregivers to a presentation, or invite another class to the reader’s theater enactment.
  • You might also video the performance or do a radio podcast.

~May Hoopoe Reader’s Theater enliven your classroom and your students’ lives, as well as cement learning that lasts.

Teacher Activity Guide & Teacher Lesson Plan
The Hoopoe Teaching-Stories series provides a multicultural program designed to meet the National Standards in Education and guide students towards mastery of the content required by the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts, the California Content Standards in English Language Learners, History/Social Science, and Visual and Performing Arts. These multicultural tales are designed with a wide range of student abilities in mind. Hoopoe Teaching-Stories can be used with: Advanced students, English-language learners, and students with learning disabilities or reading difficulties.

Hoopoe Teaching-Stories prepare students to master the California Reading Common Core State Standards for Language Arts by helping them build skills in reading comprehension, literary response and analysis, and vocabulary development.

Grades PreK – 1 (PDF): The Silly Chicken GrPreK-1 Activity Guide

Grades K – 2 (PDF): The Silly Chicken GrK-2 lesson plan

Education Standards
Common Core State Standards for ELA – English Language Arts

Grade K: The Silly Chicken ELA alignment

Grade 1: The Silly Chicken ELA alignment

Grade 2: The Silly Chicken ELA alignment

California Content Standard Alignment:

Grade K: The Silly Chicken English Standards

Grade 1: The Silly Chicken English Standards

Grade 2: The Silly Chicken English Standards

Grades K–2: The Silly Chicken English Language Development

Grades K–2: The Silly Chicken History-Social Science

Grade K: The Silly Chicken Visual Arts

Grade 1: The Silly Chicken Visual Arts

Grade 2: The Silly Chicken Visual Arts


Grades PreK–1

Grades PreK-1 All 7 PreK-1 Hoopoe titles have been correlated with the The Protocol for Review of Instructional Materials for English Language Learners (PRIME) through the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) tool ( Click here for a copy of the report.

Grades K–2

Grades K – 2 All 6 Grades K-2 Hoopoe titles have been correlated with the The Protocol for Review of Instructional Materials for English Language Learners (PRIME) through the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) tool ( Click here for a copy of the report.


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