The Pet Goat

The Pet Goat
"The Pet Goat"
Author Siegfried Engelmann and Elaine C. Bruner
Language English
Publisher McGraw-Hill
Publication date 1995

"The Pet Goat" (often erroneously called "My Pet Goat") is a children's story from the book Reading Mastery II: Storybook 1 by Siegfried Engelmann and Elaine C. Bruner. The book is part of the 31 volume Reading Mastery series published by the SRA Macmillan early-childhood education division of McGraw-Hill. It uses the Direct Instruction (DI) teaching method, which was originally developed by Engelmann and Wesley C. Becker.[1]

The story gained attention in 2001 after U.S. President George W. Bush continued reading the book with an elementary school class for seven minutes after being informed of the September 11 attacks.



"The Pet Goat" is the story of a girl's pet goat that eats everything in its path. The girl's parents want to get rid of the goat, but she defends it. In the end, the goat becomes a hero when it butts a car thief into submission.

George W. Bush: 9/11

Bush being notified of the incident
George W. Bush being notified of the incident by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card

On the morning of September 11, 2001, George Bush was reading the story along with a group of schoolchildren at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota County, Florida, when White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed him that a second airplane had just hit the World Trade Center. Bush remained seated for roughly seven minutes, and followed along as the children read the book. After spending about twenty minutes total with the children, Bush was scheduled to give a short press conference at about 9:30 a.m. At the conference inside the school, Bush made his first speech about the attacks and was later taken to a secure location by the Secret Service aboard Air Force One before returning to the White House later that evening.[2]

Bush's critics, notably Michael Moore in his film Fahrenheit 9/11, have argued that the fact that Bush continued reading the book after being notified that the attack was ongoing shows that he was indecisive. A 9/11 Commission Staff Report entitled Improvising a Homeland Defense said: "The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening."[3] According to Bill Sammon in Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism from Inside the White House, Bush's Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was in the back of the classroom holding a pad on which he had written "Don't say anything yet."[4] Sammon contends that, although Bush was not wearing his glasses, he was able to read this message, and it went unnoticed by the media. Sammon further states:

Bush wondered whether he should excuse himself and retreat to the holding room, where he might be able to find out what the hell was going on. But what kind of message would that send—the president abruptly getting up and walking out on a bunch of inner-city second-graders at their moment in the national limelight?[4]

Osama bin Laden made reference to the story in a videotaped speech released just prior to the 2004 U.S. presidential election, stating that Bush's reading of the book had given the hijackers more than enough time to carry out the attacks.[5]



  • Engelmann, Siegfried; Elaine C. Bruner (1995). Reading Mastery II: Storybook 1 (Rainbow ed. ed.). Worthington, Ohio: SRA Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-574-10128-4. 

External links

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