Charlie Needs a Cloak

Charlie Needs a Cloak

Story Summary

Charlie is a shepherd who clearly needs a new cloak. Charlie makes a plan, carries out each step in the proper season, and finally wears his beautiful new cloak.

Talk to Learn Benefit: This “maker” story builds background knowledge about how the wool of sheep is transformed into clothing.

Talk Before Reading

Check out the cover of Charlie Needs a Cloak.

I think I know who Charlie is…how about you? Who is Charlie? He needs a cloak. What do you think a cloak might be? 

Pointing out Charlie first helps the young listener narrow his focus when thinking about what a cloak might be.

If your child doesn’t guess that the cloak is the raggedy coat Charlie is wearing, don’t give it away just yet. Keep him thinking.

Let’s see if we can find out what a cloak is. Let’s keep reading!

Talk to Learn Tip: When a question can’t be immediately answered, turn the question into a reason to read. As you continue the story, guide your child to discover the meaning of “cloak.” The experience of figuring out the answer, helps to make the information stick.

Talk While Reading

Charlie Needs a New Cloak uses words that would be unfamiliar to most young children. In addition to cloak, the young listener will hear other words important to this process of turning wool into clothing: shear, card, spin, weave, sew. When one of these new words appears in the story, point to the picture that shows the meaning.

So, in the spring, Charlie sheared the sheep.

Let your child describe what he thinks “shearing the sheep” might mean, based on the picture.

Don’t miss the funny little actions of some of the sheep in the illustrations. Ask your child to tell you about what the sheep are doing.

What do you guess that sheep might be thinking? What was your clue?

Talk Later

The next time your child needs a new piece of clothing, ask:

What do you think Charlie would do, if he needed new pants or a new shirt? 

Give hints, if needed, to help your child remember the steps Charlie used to make his cloak.


Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola. Aladdin Paperbacks. 1973.

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