Tell students that the book they will read, Misty of Chincoteague, is about the wild ponies of Assateague Island. Explain that Assateague Island is a long, narrow island along the Atlantic Coast that is now a national park. Thousands of visitors go there every year to see the famous ponies that run wild and free. Ask students if they have ever visited an island. Have volunteers describe islands they have visited and what they saw there.
Explore students' prior knowledge about horses by conducting a brainstorming activity. Ask them to describe their thoughts and feelings about horses. These may be based on firsthand experiences or on books and movies. Record their responses on the board or on chart paper for future reference.
To help prepare students for the specialized vocabulary in the book, explain that the story uses many special words to describe the Assateague ponies. On chart paper, list the words below. Ask students to identify the words they know. Fill in the definitions as they are given, or supply them yourself.
a male horse
a female horse
a young horse
a newborn or very young horse
a group of horses
the high call of a horse
the long hair growing on the back of a horse's neck
the highest part of a horse's back
Save the chart. Ask students to write down other examples of “horse talk” as they read the book.