craft · lucy calkins · mentor texts · reading-writing connections · tcrwp · writing workshop

The Makings of a TRUE Mentor Text

I realize I’m a bit late to the “Those Shoes Party,” which is a touching text written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones. Those Shoes was published in 2007 and is the story of a little boy who desperately wants the shoes that nearly everyone else in school has. The catch? His grandmother cannot afford to buy him a new pair of those shoes. Since I don’t like to give away endings, let’s just say it’s exceedingly touching. To that end, it’s a story that nearly all children can relate to, especially in these days of high food prices and surging fuel costs. Therefore, I’ve decided that Those Shoes is going to become one of my first read alouds of this-coming school year, but not just because of its important message.

Those Shoes, like When It’s the Last Day of School, is very well-written. Boelts did it again when she crafted this text – it’s an EXCELLENT mentor! Therefore, piggy-backing off of the work I did at the Writing Institute when I took Lucy’s Class, I decided to go through Those Shoes, post-its and pen in-hand, so as to pick out the craft moves on every single page. As you can see from the photograph, there’s sometimes more than one craft move on a page. My post-its are just a start. I’m going to create a document that includes page numbers and the craft move I noticed, using the most precise words as possible (e.g., not just “Boelts did ‘show not tell’ on this page.) so that I can really use this book when I confer with my students this-coming fall.

Until then, here’s a link to the draft I created for this purpose. (Note: When I say draft, please realize that this document is NOT anywhere near its final form right now!)

If you decide to view the draft, then please leave a comment with feedback, + or -! THANK YOU!

15 thoughts on “The Makings of a TRUE Mentor Text

  1. Wow! It is really an honor that you would use “Those Shoes” as a mentor text. I loved reading your notes, and I learned from them, too.
    What a gift your mission is to everyone bringing books and kids together… Keep up the awesome work!!


  2. Thanks so much for continuing to share your experiences and ideas with writing workshop. I find this draft to be inspiring and instructive as I continue my own explorations of writing workshop.

    Joan from North Carolina


  3. Shelly: I know I personally e-mailed you earlier, but I’ll share what I shared with you here. SAS

    To everyone else: Do a key word search for “mentor texts” (top right of our blog and then hit the search button) and you should be able to come up with quite a bit. As for texts, Wondrous Words is a great place to start.


  4. I love this idea! I would love to learn more about mentor texts. Is there a professional book or somewhere I can go to learn about it? I did WW in 3rd for the first time last year and was just getting my feet wet, so I would love to do more this year.


  5. I love this idea so much I started working on a book myself, Shortcut by Donald Crews. I had an “ah ha” moment over the summer… I realized I need to slowdown in WW and use only a few mentor texts to help my students move their writing forward. Before I was so careful to pick a just right book for each mini-lesson that I overwhelmed myself and my kids. Thanks for helping me move my own thinking forward!

    Your blog inspires me daily! I can’t wait to share with other teachers in my building!


  6. If every one of the teachers I work with was engaging in this smart work during summer break I would be out of a job! I’ve loved having one or two touchstone texts to go back to again and again in my reading and writing workshops. Thanks for sharing your work with us. I hope to share it as inspiration for some of my teams when we return to work in August.


  7. I also love the text Those Shoes and plan on using it as one of my first read alouds and a text that I return to in reading and writing workshop with my 5th grade class. I have started to use post-its to mark up the text like I usually do, but now I am also going to try writing up my notes/thinking like you did. I also plan on using Eve Buntings text Pop’s Bridge and Crab Moon by Ruth Horowitz.


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