A Sick Day for Amos McGee
by Philip Stead
illustrated by Erin Stead

A Sick Day for Amos McGee:  This charming book tells the story of an elderly zoo keeper who made time each day for his animal friends-- racing a tortoise, reading stories to an owl, spending time with a shy penguin...Then when Amos is home sick, his animal friends return the favor, going to his home to cheer him up.

Amos is an adorable little guy and the attention he gives to his animal friends is tenderly portrayed. The result of his kindness--that his animal friends rushed to his side when he's sick--is a nice reminder to kids that they create caring friendships thru the way they treat others. Plus, it's lots of fun to see animals do human things like taking the bus, playing games...

A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Reading Level

Interest Level:   Preschool - Grade 2
Guided Reading Level:   M
DRA Level:  24                 
Lexile Measure:   AD760L
Grade Equivalent:    3.0

Read-Aloud vs. Individual Reading:
For kids in preschool through first grade, this book will need to be a read-aloud rather than for individual reading, as the reading level will be too high for the vast majority of them. Some second graders may be able to read this book on their own (as the year moves on).

Awards Won by A Sick Day for Amos McGee

  • Caldecott Medal 2011  (This is a big deal!  This is the biggest children's book award there is.)
  • New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book
  • New York Public Library Best Children's Books List
  • Chicago Public Library Best Children's Books List 2011
  • Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book

See inside A Sick Day for Amos McGee

The illustrations in this book were created via woodblock printing: laying the color down first with blocks, then using a pencil to add in detail afterward.  After reading this book, explain the technique. Kids find it fascinating.  Below are the first three spreads inside this book:

This spread appears a bit later, with the animals are waiting at the bus stop to take the bus to their sick friend's home.  So adorable! 

And in this sample spread , the animal friends arrive at sick Amos's house.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee lesson / activity idea:

After reading A Sick Day for Amos McGee aloud to our class, we always have the kids write about who they would like to have come visit them if they were sick. For our sample, we say we'd like Mrs. Claus to come visit us because she gives good hugs and she would make yummy cookies that would cheer us up.  We then set the kids loose to write about who they would like to have come visit them. And wow...do they come up with some funny, crazy visitors. :)

If you'd like to do this prompt with your class, you can download our FREE writing prompt paper. Click here:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee lesson/activity idea