Along came Greedy Cat

Issue: Volume 94, Number 10

Posted: 15 June 2015
Reference #: 1H9crJ

Greedy Cat has been charming and engaging children with his wicked antics since he first appeared in schools in the Ready to Read series in 1983. Now, five of Joy Cowley’s original Greedy Cat stories have been refreshed and updated, ready for delivery to schools soon.

Building a strong foundation in literacy

These revised Greedy Cat stories, like all Ready to Read materials, support students in years 1–3 to develop “effective reading processing systems”1 as they learn to respond to and think critically about increasingly complex texts.

Greedy Cat is now the only story about this memorable and lovable cat that is available as a shared book. This reflects one of the recommendations of the 2013–14 Ready to Read review – to have different texts for shared reading and guided reading. Greedy Cat can be read and enjoyed with students right from their first days of school. The dramatic storyline, engaging repetitive language, and Robyn Belton’s delightful illustrations invite enthusiastic participation. After multiple shared readings, students become able to independently read the accompanying small version of the book.

Shared reading, along with other aspects of the classroom literacy programme, helps to build students’ understandings about texts before they begin guided reading:

For beginning readers, guided reading will be most effective when they have developed a number of understandings about text. These are best gained through planned, enriching, shared-reading and oral-language activities, through language experience, and through listening to texts read to them.

Guided Reading Years 1-4:11

Using instructional texts for guided reading

There is now a guided book about Greedy Cat at each colour wheel level from Magenta to Blue.

The New Cat Magenta
Greedy Cat Is Hungry Red 2
Lunch for Greedy Cat Yellow 3
Greedy Cat’s Door Blue 3

These four books are designed to be used initially as instructional texts for guided reading. After a careful introduction by the teacher, students problem-solve their way through the first reading, with the teacher offering support only as required. This creates maximum opportunities for each student to apply and strengthen their own reading processing system. These delightful stories can be returned to often, as students “read, respond, and think critically”2. The online teacher support materials (TSM) provide many helpful suggestions to engage students. For more information on guided reading, refer to Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1 to 4 (Ministry of Education, 2003, pages 96–100).

Demonstrating some aspects of the gradient of difficulty

Ready to Read texts are carefully crafted according to levelling criteria. These criteria are closely linked to The New Zealand Curriculum Reading and Writing Standards and The Literacy Learning Progressions for students in years 1–3. The level of text difficulty “increases gradually in such aspects as vocabulary, text length, complexity of text structure, students’ familiarity with the content, and how explicitly the content is stated”3. This presents students with continual and appropriate challenges that will advance their learning. (See Curriculum Update 28(external link) for more information).

The Greedy Cat books have been revised to reflect the new levelling criteria. Having five books about the same character provides an opportunity to clearly demonstrate some aspects of this gradual increase in text difficulty. (See the Ready to Read Update(external link) – June 2015: Along came Greedy Cat for more information. This update will be delivered to schools and posted online later this month.)

Greedy Cat returns in 2016

In early 2016, five new Greedy Cat books will be published. These brand-new stories, written by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Robyn Belton, are being developed at each level, from Green to Gold. Watch this space!

Teacher support materials

The TSM for Ready to Read texts provide additional support for teachers in matching texts to students. They describe key characteristics of the texts and learning opportunities within the texts, and they provide guidance on how teachers can scaffold students to develop their own reading process as they “read, respond to, and think critically about texts”. The TSM also provide information about related texts within the Ready to Read series, including links between texts for shared reading and guided reading, and between instructional reading and the wider classroom literacy programme.

1 The Literacy Learning Progressions, page 10
2 The Literacy Learning Progressions
3 The New Zealand Curriculum Reading and Writing Standards for years 1–8, page 9

Greedy cat on trial - teachers talk

All five revised Greedy Cat books were trialled with teachers and students.

The New Cat: “They knew who the cat was as they had been reading the shared book. He’s such a lovable character.”

Greedy Cat Is Hungry: “I like the new structure of this text as well as the new information. The interest words are easily solved.”

Lunch for Greedy Cat: “The students loved the idea of Greedy Cat tricking Aunty. Good to see more text on a page.”

Greedy Cat’s Door: “The students found this story hilarious! I haven’t taken a reading group with this much laughing for a while!”

Finding out more

Go to Ready to Read(external link) for links to:

  • TSM and audio files for all Ready to Read texts
  • information about Ready to Read in literacy programmes 
  • the latest communications to schools.

Words on Wellington - New Zealand literacy association conference (30 Sept – 2 Oct 2015)

Lift Education, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, will have a display stand at the New Zealand Literacy Association Conference in Wellington (30 September – 2 October). Bernadette Wilson (Ready to Read editor) and Kay Hancock (Ready to Read consultant) will also present a workshop with the latest news about the series, including the development of two new non-fiction texts for shared reading.

We’d love to hear from you

We’d love to hear about how you have used these books and any of the other Ready to Read materials. Please share your feedback by contacting our publishing provider by email at:

Replacement copies of Ready to Read texts may be ordered from:

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:45 pm, 15 June 2015

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts