Reading Comprehension with Gustavo the Shy Ghost

Have you read Gustavo the Shy Ghost yet? This is SUCH a sweet book by Flavia Z. Drago. Gustavo is a shy ghost who tries so hard to make friends and get the other monsters to notice him. He does all type of silly things to get them to “see” him, but nothing works. He finally decides to have a violin concert, and sends out invitations to the other monsters. Gustavo “glows” when he plays the violin, and he keeps playing even though he thinks no one is coming to his show. Eventually, the other monsters show up and explained they were late because they got lost. Gustavo’s light helped them find the concert, and he finally has a group of friends to spend his time with. The book ends by sharing all the special ways Gustavo helps and supports his friends.

You can get all of these activities in my TPT store. I’ve linked each photo, or you can grab it here. This unit also includes activities for teaching social-emotional skills with Gustavo, and you can read all about those activities here! You can purchase your own copy of Gustavo here.

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Why I Love It

  1. I love that this book is set around Dia De Los Muertos instead of Halloween. It’s a great way to bring this meaningful holiday into the classroom, and symbols of Dia De Los Muertos are included in almost all of the illustrations.
  2. The author, Flavia Z. Drago, is a Mexican artist. I am always looking for ways to make our library more diverse, in the stories and authors, and this book makes such a great addition. Since this book includes so many references to the Mexican holiday, I appreciate that it comes from a Mexican author.
  3. It hits such an important skill..making friends! So many times, our students and kids at home don’t know HOW to make friends. We spend a lot of time talking about being a good friend, but many students need direct instruction on how to introduce themselves, and how to make connections with those around them.
  4. The story is simple with clear story elements. This is a great book for retelling, because the story events and story elements (character, setting, problem and solution) are clear and easy to identify as students practice these skills.

Retelling Activities

I created several activities for students to practice retelling the beginning, middle, and end, story elements, and sequence the story.

Students will use the template to create their own “eye scream” truck, and then put the story events in order. You can have them color their own truck, or print it out on colored paper. Astrobrights is always my favorite! I also included a flipbook with “Initial, Medial, and Final” if you are following those standards for retelling.

Discussion Questions

I included questions for before, during and after reading. I definitely wouldn’t use them all! You might read the book a few times, and ask different questions each time. Use your students’ current strengths and areas of need, as well as your standards, to determine which questions are most important to ask.


Gustavo has some great vocabulary, especially of feelings and emotions words. I’ve included a flipbook, as well as a printable page for students to illustrate their words.

Character Traits and Feelings

Gustavo is such a great book to discuss character traits and feelings, because they are very clear. Gustavo clearly feels lonely and left out at the beginning of the book, and by the end he feels loved and included. Gustavo is shy, but brave. He is talented, musical, kind, and helpful. The author does a wonderful job sharing all about Gustavo’s character traits, so it’s the perfect book to work on these skills!

Additional Writing Activities

There are so many ways to use Gustavo the Shy Ghost in the classroom! Be sure to check out my other activities for Emotional Learning on my blog post HERE.

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