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Literary Essay Texts

During our common planning time today, my colleagues and I brainstormed a list of texts we’re going to have students select from for their literary essays. Many people think that kids should pick whatever book they’re reading, I’ve come to believe that having children select from a pre-selected set of short texts is better. A smaller set of texts allows me, as their teacher, to really know the texts well. Additionally, it allows me to partner them with other students who are working on an essay about the same text.

The texts we chose to provide the kids with this-coming week are:

The Other Side *
• “Slower Than The Rest” *
• “My Side of the Story” *
Four Feet, Two Sandals
The Wednesday Surprise
A Chair for My Mother
The Paper Bag Princess
• “The Meanest Thing to Say”
La Mariposa
Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding

I used some of these texts (the ones with * next to them) when I taught fifth grade. I added a few this year since I teach fourth now and wanted to make sure that the texts we had available for our students were drawn from a range of reading levels and interests. Additionally, all of the books above has strong themes and/or characters, which makes them ideal as texts to examine critically in a literary essay.

“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros will be the text that we analyze, write about, and use in minlessons.

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

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