Art by Kory Heinzen

Dad’s New Job

A boy learns to appreciate his dad’s new role in the family in this touching story.

By Tommy Greenwald
From the February 2018 Issue

Learning Objective: Students will analyze how a character changes in a story about a young boy’s response to shifts in his parents’ roles.

Lexile: 650L
Guided Reading Level: T
DRA Level: 50
Topic: Social Issues,
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Activities (6)
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)
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Activities (6) Download All Activities
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)

More About the Story


how a character changes, vocabulary, inference, problem and solution, author’s craft, synthesizing, compare and contrast, narrative writing

Complexity Factors

Levels of Meaning/Purpose

“Dad's New Job” is about a boy’s learning to accept and appreciate the recent change at home: his father has become a stay-at-home dad while his mother has started working outside the home.


The story is told in the first person and is chronological.


The language is mainly conversational and includes a good deal of dialogue.

Knowledge Demands 

The text refers to different careers.

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read

Preview Text Features/Set a Purpose for Reading (3 minutes)  

  • Ask a volunteer to read aloud the Up Close box on page 11. 
  • Preview the questions in the margins. Show students the blank “write your own question” bubble on page 13.

Vocabulary (15 minutes)

  • The vocabulary in this story is mainly conversational, but a few words could be challenging, especially for struggling readers or English language learners.
  • Our vocabulary activity previews the words cockpit, approvingly, shrug, and eagerly.

2. Close Reading

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

  • Read the story aloud as a class, or play our audio version as students follow along in their magazines. 

Second Read: Unpack the Text (30 minutes)

  • Have small groups read the story again, pausing to discuss the close-reading questions in the margins. They can then respond on their own paper. Answers follow.
  • Ask students to write their own questions in the blank bubble on page 13, using the other questions as models. Students can exchange their questions with a partner or share and discuss them as a group.
  • Discuss the critical-thinking questions.

Answers to Close-Reading Questions

  • Inference (p. 11) The other dads’ jobs sound exciting to Henry; he describes them as “amazing.” But Henry is dreading Take Your Dad to School Day. He is embarrassed about his own dad being a stay-at-home father.
  • Character (p. 12) When Henry hears his dad, his shoulders sag. This shows that Henry is unhappy and disappointed.
  • Inference (p. 12) You can infer that in the past, Henry’s dad had a job outside their home, but now his dad is home all day.
  • Problem (p. 12) Henry doesn’t want his dad to come to Take Your Dad to School Day. He is embarrassed that his father doesn’t have a cool job like the other dads.
  • Inference (p. 13) Mom used to stay at home while Dad went to work. You can tell that Henry misses the way things used to be when he says that he prefers her spaghetti to his dad’s.
  • Author’s Craft (p. 13) The author tells what happens detail by detail. This slows down the action and helps you feel as if you are there with Henry and the other kids, eagerly waiting to find out what will happen next.
  • Inference (p. 14) Henry probably thinks his dad is going to make something up because it doesn’t occur to Henry that taking care of their home and family is a job.
  • How a Character Changes (p. 14) When Henry realizes that his dad has been trying hard to learn about laundry and other household tasks, he feels bad that he got so angry over his dad’s mistake with the T-shirt. He wishes he had reacted more kindly.
  • Solution (p. 14) Henry solves his problem by looking at things in a new way. His father’s presentation helps Henry appreciate and be proud of his dad and his dad’s “new job,” instead of feeling embarrassed. He even realizes that some of his classmates are envious of the time he gets to spend with his dad.

Critical-Thinking Questions

  • Someone once said, “If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.” What does Henry learn to be thankful for? How does that turn things around for him? (synthesizing/ how a character changes)
    After hearing his dad’s presentation, Henry realizes that his parents’ roles changed because they didn’t want to disrupt his life or his sister’s. Instead of staying unhappy about these changes, Henry becomes thankful for his parents’ hard work for the family, especially for his father’s “new job.” Because of this, Henry has a new, happier outlook on life at home.
  • The story begins and ends with Henry’s arrival home from school. Compare these two scenes. What do you think will happen after the story ends? (compare and contrast)
    In the first scene, Henry does not enjoy coming home to his father and finds their usual conversation unpleasant. At the end, Henry is happy when he arrives home. This time, he is the one to start off their old joke by exclaiming, “I wasn’t sure where you were, but there you are!” Answers will vary but students will probably say that Henry and his dad will laugh at Henry’s joke and have a nice time together.

3. Skill Building

Featured Skill: Problem and Solution

Differentiate and Customize
For Struggling Readers

Read the story with students over a few days, pausing to discuss questions in the margins and other questions they have. Then ask them to write one paragraph about how Henry changes in the story. Brainstorm a topic sentence together.

For Advanced Readers

Have students read “Freddie in the Shade” from the September 2017 issue of Storyworks. Ask them to write a short essay comparing the recent changes in Freddie’s and Henry’s families and how each boy responds to those changes.

For ELL Students

ELLs might be unfamiliar with the names of the careers mentioned in the story: pilot, chef, carpenter, nurse, architect, and store manager. Working in small groups, have them find basic details about each job, plus an image. They can share what they learned—along with the jobs’ names in their native languages.

For Guided Reading

Read the story with your guided-reading groups, using the close-reading and critical-thinking questions to discuss how Henry changes throughout the story. As you meet with groups, other students can work independently or in pairs on the how a character changes activity sheet.