School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 3. Use elements of narrative texts to facilitate understanding

Objective e. Identify and explain relationships between and among characters, setting, and events


Brave Irene by William Steig is a good text to use when introducing this objective to early readers because there are strong relationships between Irene and her mother and also Irene and the wind. The events of the story are a direct result of these relationships. After reading the story aloud to the students, first discuss the relationship that exists between Irene and her mother. Words to describe their relationship might include caring or loving. Use the examples from text in the following chart to support this relationship.

Relationships in the story, Brave Irene
Story Elements Words to describe Relationship Text Support
Irene and her mother Loving, caring

Irene tells her mother that the dress is beautiful.

Mother calls her daughter pet names, like dumpling, pudding, and cupcake.

Irene offers to take the dress to the duchess for her mother all by herself in the snow.

Irene puts her mother to bed and makes her comfortable.

Mother doesn’t want her to go because she doesn’t think that her daughter will be safe in the snow.

Irene kisses her mother on the forehead when she leaves.

Irene keeps going even when the weather is bad.

Irene fights with the wind because “it’s my mother’s work.”

Irene worries what her mother will think about her losing the dress.

Irene thinks about her mother when she falls in the snow and it makes her get up and go again.

Irene shouts to her mother when she finds the dress.

Irene’s mother worries about her when she awakens in the morning and starts out to find her.

Irene’s mother already knew that Irene was brave and loving.

Irene and the wind Hostile, battling

The wind blew the snowflakes in Irene’s face.

The wind “hurried her along and made her stumble.”

Irene resented the wind and tells it “Easy does it!”

The wind “drove her rudely.”

The wind “got in front of Irene to keep her from moving ahead.”

Irene turns around and goes backward.

The wind yells for her to go home.

Irene yells back and calls it “wicked wind.”

The wind “wrestled her for the package.”

Irene screams at the wind.

The “ill-tempered wind” blows the dress away.

“The wind was howling like a wild animal.”

Irene tells the wind that it has “spoiled everything! Everything!” and the wind “swallowed up her words.”

When she slides to the palace the “wind raced after Irene but couldn’t keep up.” The wind was holding the dress against the tree.

She got the dress back into the box “despite the wind’s meddling”

Tell the students that one of the relationships that moved the story along was the relationship between Irene and the wind. Words that could be used to describe this adversarial relationship would be hostile and battling. Have the students reread the text in pairs and find examples of text that support this relationship. Add the details to the chart. Use the examples above as a guide. Discuss the word choices that the author makes to show the hostility between Irene and the wind. Discuss how the story is driven by Irene’s desire to help her mother because she loves her and how the wind opposes her in reaching her goal. Both of these relationships determine the events in the story.


Other books to explore these relationships include:

  • Gila monsters meet you at the airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (character and setting)
  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (main character and other characters)
  • Gregory Cool by Caroline Binch (main character and other characters and setting)
  • A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon (main character and other characters)