art · mentor texts · non-narrative writing · Read Aloud

Journey Around a Topic

Earlier this month, The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice, which is written by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Linda Bleck, was released by Dutton Children’s Books.  The Longest Day is non-fiction, but it reads like fiction since Pfeffer paints vivid in the reader’s mind with the language she purposefully selects.  The vivid language she uses evokes a sense of brightness as readers journey across the planet to experience the summer solstice in all corners of the Earth.

There are a few characteristics of non-fiction apparent in this text (e.g., a fact page at the back of the book; a wonderful diagram that explains how the Autumnal Equinox leads to Fall, which leads to the Winter Solstice, which leads to Winter, and so on; a list of other books and websites for more information), which will help students understand the main concept of this book more clearly.  However, Pfeffer teaches the reader how solstice has been marked throughout time and in various places  mainly through prose.

Students who are writing “all about” books can benefit from using The Longest Day as a mentor text since it provides an interesting look, beyond just the facts about the summer solstice, at the way different cultures celebrate the same event.

On more of a Read Aloud, non-Writing Workshop, note, this is an exquisite book to share with your students before the end of the school year.  Not only will you teach your students about an important annual event, but there are four craft projects you can do with your students, inspired by four different cultures’ celebrations of solstice, you can use as post-reading activities (once you finish discussing the text, of course).  All are perfect activities for the warmer days ahead as the school year winds down.

A review copy of The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice was provided by Penguin Group.