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A Mentor Text that Deals with Social Issues

We’ve all had that kid in our class.  You know who I mean.  It’s the kid who sticks out like a sore thumb because of his weight, because of his hair, or because of the way his voice sounds.  I had that kid in my class each year… sometimes more than one per year.  That kid was always the reason I matched my students with partners and never let them pick their own teams, for fear that that kid would be picked last.

When I received a review copy of A Very Big Bunny by Marisabina Russo I immediately thought about all of my students who didn’t fit in.  A Very Big Bunny is the tale of Amelia, a bunny who is too large for her age and therefore isn’t accepted by her fellow bunny classmates.  Amelia is isolated from her peers until a new bunny, Susannah, who is too small for her age, befriends Amelia and helps her become confident in her skin (or perhaps that’s the fur she’s living in).

This book is ideal for use when discussing social issues, especially bullying and fitting-in, in an elementary school classroom.  It can also serve as an excellent mentor text for students who are attempting to write about bullying, either as a personal narrative or as a piece of short fiction.  (Other texts that tackle the same issue are Blubber by Judy Blume, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, La Mariposa by Francisco Jiminez, and The Lemonade Club by Patricia Polacco.)  However, this text has other uses, as a mentor text, as well.  Some craft moves you can show students in A Very Big Bunny are:

  • How to link compound sentences.

  • Replacing the word said with strong dialogue tags.

  • Ways to write using the power of three.  (Click here for more about the “power of three.”)

  • Model sentences for creating realistic-sounding dialogue.  (Change “bunnies” to children” and this book is about nearly any elementary school class!)

  • Demonstrate ways to repeat the sequence of events different characters experience in the same way.

  • Techniques for crafting a simple sentence, that’s followed-up by a fragment that modifies the simple sentence.

A Very Big Bunny just came out in bookstores two days ago.  Click here if you want to add it to your collection of mentor texts.

Review copy provided by Schwartz & Wade Books.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

3 thoughts on “A Mentor Text that Deals with Social Issues Leave a comment

  1. I have used Chrysanthemum in my classroom to discuss differences. Thanks for all the great ideas for A Very Big Bunny. I teach 6th grade, but I find the students really learn with picture books and enjoy being read to.


  2. I have a text-to-text connect! “Hooway for Wodney Wat” by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger is also about a kid who doesn’t quite fit in because he is a rodent who can’t say his “r’s” and he is timid and shy and self conscious. Then, in the end, he is able to help the others get rid of the new kid, a real bully. I love this book, and it leads to some really good discussion about Rodney’s methods for getting rid of the bully. Though everyone is glad to see her get a taste of her own medicine, is that really the best solution?


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