The Day It Rained Cats

Sheera gets a very special gift from her grandma in this fantastical yet deeply relatable story from Newbery Award-winning author Linda Sue Park.

By Linda Sue Park
From the September 2016 Issue

Learning Objective: Students will determine which traits the main character develops while working with her grandmother to learn a special skill: “levving,” or moving objects with your mind.

Lexile: 670L
Guided Reading Level: S
DRA Level: 40
Topic: Animals,
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Activities (7)
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)
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Activities (7) Download All Activities
Quizzes (2)
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Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)

More About the Story


character, vocabulary, close reading, genre, predicting, tone, inference, suspense, plot, explanatory writing

Complexity Factors

Levels of Meaning/Purpose

In this unusual coming-of-age story, the author explores the themes of sacrifice, commitment, family, loss, and legacy.


The text begins with a flash-forward to the story’s climax. The story also includes foreshadowing and requires readers to make inferences about character motivation and setting. 


The story contains some higher-level words (such as barreling and scalded); the created wordslevlevved, and levving; and irony, metaphors, and other figures of speech. 

Knowledge Demands 

Familiarity with the fantasy genre will be helpful; students must understand that the story takes place in an imaginary world.

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read

Preview Text Features (10 minutes)

  • Project the story as students look at it in their magazines. Ask a volunteer to read aloud the Up Close box on page 11. Ask: Based on the Up Close prompt, who do you think the two main characters of the story will be? 
  • Invite a few students to briefly share something important they have learned from a grandparent. 
  • Point out the questions in the margins and make sure students see how the questions are connected by arrows to boldface text in the story. Preview the questions as a class. 
  • Tell students they will answer the questions during a second read of the story. 

Vocabulary (15 minutes)

  • Although no vocabulary words are in bold in this story, students will still encounter some challenging words. Distribute our vocabulary activity to preview five terms. Students will also be able to add words that are unfamiliar to them. 
  • Terms in the activity include: plunge, glared, slacked off, urgent, and scalded.

2. Close Reading

First Read: Get to Know the Text (20 minutes)

  • Read “The Day It Rained Cats” as a class or in small groups so students gain a general understanding of what happens. 

Second Read: Unpack the Text (30 minutes)

  • Have small groups read the story again, pausing to discuss the close-reading questions in the margins and respond on their own paper. Answers are below. 
  • Discuss the critical-thinking questions as a class.

Answers to Close-Reading Questions

  • Genre (p. 11) This sentence suggests that the story will be at least partly fantasy. It’s not realistic that cats would actually rain down from the sky. 
  • Vocabulary (p. 11) Words with the root -levinclude elevator, levitate, and lever. 
  • Predicting (p. 11) The sentence suggests that a big change will happen later. Students will probably say they wonder what the change will be. 
  • Character (p. 12) The answer tells you that Sheera admires her grandma and her ability to lev. It also tells you that Sheera is thoughtful and different from most kids, who think levving is pointless. 
  • Tone (p. 12) The beans are not her “BFF.” Sheera is being sarcastic because she is frustrated with the beans. 
  • Inference (p. 12) You can figure out that Grandma is thinking Sheera should not go to the book signing. She wants Sheera to stick to her commitment to practice for two hours a day for a whole year. 
  • Character (p. 13) Sheera’s decision tells you that she is committed to keeping her word to her grandma and learning how to lev. She is willing to make a sacrifice, even though it’s difficult for her. 
  • Suspense (p. 13) The author builds suspense by giving details that show how much danger the children are in and how challenging it is for Sheera to lev Liam. You don’t know whether she will succeed in time. 
  • Character (p. 13) The event with the SUV gave Sheera confidence and increased her levving skill. She knows that if she can lev Liam, she can lev a can of beans. 
  • Plot (p. 14) This is an important moment because it is a turning point. Grandma is handing over the responsibility of levving to Sheera. It is Grandma’s way of saying she trusts Sheera with the ability. 
  • Inference (p. 14) It is Sheera’s way of honoring her grandmother and the special ability she passed on to Sheera.

Critical-Thinking Question

  • How is learning to lev more difficult than Sheera expected? (character) It is more difficult because learning the skill takes a lot of practice, and she’s not always successful. It also requires sacrifice. She has to give up many fun activities that her friends get to do. 
  • How might Sheera have felt at the end of the story if she had decided not to learn to lev? (inference) She probably would have felt sad and disappointed that she missed the opportunity to learn something special from her grandmother. She might regret her decision.

3. Skill Building

Featured Skill: Character

  • Project or distribute our character activity sheet. It will help students determine the character traits Sheera shows in the story and prepare them to respond to the writing prompt on page 14.

Differentiate and Customize
For Struggling Readers

The mix of fantasy and realistic elements might make this story challenging for struggling readers. Help them by comparing levving to another skill a child could learn from a grandparent, like cooking or painting.

For Advanced Readers

Invite students to write a story in which Sheera is now a grandmother and must advise her granddaughter about whether to learn to lev. What would Sheera say? Make sure students include Sheera’s own experience in their stories.

For ELL Students

1. Preview vocabulary with our vocabulary activity. 2. Prepare a short, simple summary of the story and work together with your English language learners to read it. 3. Follow up by having students read the story in the magazine.

For Book Groups

1. Preview vocabulary with our vocabulary activity. 2. Prepare a short, simple summary of the story and work together with your English language learners to read it. 3. Follow up by having students read the story in the magazine.