More wonderful work with classroom teachers and we’re continuing to talk about finding mentor texts–texts that are at the instructional level of the student, engaging, and include the ‘thing’ that you’re trying to teach the student about writing. That’s a tall order so, naturally, teachers look for support. There are a litany of books written for teachers about mentor texts, many of which are great, and publishing companies sell supplements to their textbooks that include mentor texts, most of which are terrible. All those books have a real challenge, though: mentor texts need to arise organically from readers deeply engaging with reading and wanting to turn their writing into that type of thing they’re reading. Just because a published author–or me–says that a books is a great mentor text doesn’t mean that it will work for any teacher in any classroom with any group of students.
That said, I want to help. So I’ll offer a few picture books that I use as mentor texts. Picturebooks are great because the text is often short, the pictures can support student comprehension, and the writing is usually phenomenal because very few words have to do a lot of work. If you teach secondary students, the bonus of picture books is that they hearken back to a time when students liked reading and being read too (I didn’t spell it wrong, look!). And, as long as you do it often and select high-quality ones, they won’t feel talked down to.
Below the fold: perspective, genre, ellipses, and lists.