From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Tammy Langeberg. Tammy has been a teacher for 26 years in Jeffco, Colorado, 15 of those as a school librarian. She is National Board Certified Librarian and a Colorado Highly Effective School Librarian. Tammy is the co-chairperson of the Colorado Children’s Book Award through CCIRA. She loves her job and loves to match the right books with the right person (teachers and students).

Tammy captured in her natural habitat

Quality picture books, read aloud, help students understand the craft of writing.  Back when I started teaching we called mentor texts something different, but it is about finding the right book for that teachable moment.  Here are some mentor texts I have found to work well.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
This book is a wonderful example of a childhood memoir.  It tells the story of a child visiting his grandparents and the tradition of greeting each other at the window. This slice of life can prompt students to develop their own memoirs using simple daily life memories.

I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff


These titles are the perfect mentor texts for persuasive writing. In the first, Alex uses his writing skills to lobby for a pet iguana.  In the sequel, he does the same, this time asking for his own room after having to share a room with his brother.  The books are funny and Alex always gets what he wants!

Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This book personifies an object in a funny story about not fitting in and self doubt.  Spoon starts out thinking everyone else is so much better than him, but eventually finds out he is pretty great, too.  Spoon can help students see how even the most common object can make an interesting story. 

Rosenthal’s Exclamation Mark is also a wonderful example of personification with a dose of conventions.

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten! by Trisha Speed Shaskan

This fractured fairy tale is a great way to show point of view using a story most students recognize.  The wolf explains his point of view in which he was not the bad guy as we would believe from the traditional story.  There are other books in this series including Cinderella and Goldilocks with the same theme.

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Bully is an almost wordless picture book which gets the point across about how bullies become bullies. &
nbsp;If you do not share the end page at the start, you miss the whole meaning of the book.  It is a great example of how characters can change.

This is a very short and targeted list of books I have used for mentor texts.  I could go on and on about many more, but I selected these to share a variety of crafts and books to help students be inspired and to know that they can write about anything. 

I would love to hear about what you use in your writing classes because sharing makes us all better teachers…and our students better learners.

Thank you Tammy, for sharing such a great list of mentor texts and ways they can be used to inspire student writings!