I love a good mentor text.
Bringing a mentor text into your writing workshop reinforces the reading/writing connection. It can teach about the craft of writing and show student-writers how certain craft moves work. Mentor texts can also help spark ideas and provide a roadmap for students to try new things with their writing.
I consider it a double-bonus when those mentor texts are also stories about writing. How better to drive home your lesson about writing than with a character who is writing?
Here are a few favorites for you to explore:
Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter (1997):
How many times have you heard students say that they don't know what to write about or that nothing exciting ever happens around them that is worth writing about? This book shows students that if you look around you, there is a lot going on -- you just have to know how to look. It also explores the benefits of keeping an active writer's notebook, an important writer's tool!
One Day, The End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (2015):
One Day, The End is a really fun book to show students that stories consist of a beginning, middle, and end, but it is in the middle where the important stuff gets told. If you have students who write incomplete, underdeveloped stories, this is a good mentor text to share. It also makes a fun class writing activity.
You Have to Write by Janet S. Wong (1998):
This mentor text explores the writing process shows students how to turn their own life stories into stories they can share with others. Written in verse, You Have to Write is an easy read that sends home the message that stories are all around us when we pay attention and it is our responsibility to tell those stories.
Little Red Writing by Joan Holub (2013):
There are so many writing lessons hidden in this gem of a mentor text: the writing process, the importance of punctuation, how to add description, the parts of speech, and more. It also can serve double-duty as a fractured fairy tale and the illustrations are AMAZING!
Even if you teach middle school or high school, I still encourage you to take a look at these mentor texts to see how they can be used in your writing classroom. Once students get over the giggles of being read a picture book, they will find the ideas and format helpful in growing their own writing craft.
There is always something to be learned in a book!
Looking for other posts in the "Here's a Book for That"series?
Sharpen your writing instruction skills with Five Books We Love for Teaching Writing
Looking to grow as a teacher-writer? Read, Here's a Book for That: Our Favorite Books for Teachers Who Write
Hand your student-writers one of these gems about writing: Writing Advice for Student Writers
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