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Great Mentor Texts for Teachers

Ever feel like you’re forgetting something?  Well, that’s exactly how I have felt this week!  You see, I’ve been hard at work compiling a list of books to have on book carts when I teach my graduate class this summer.  (My students will have to complete two projects that will require them to use two different mentor texts.)  Since the teachers who will be taking my course will teach grades K – 8, I need to have a wide range of books from which they can choose.  I was told, by another professor who has taught this course in the past, that it’s helpful to have around 150 books on the carts for teachers to choose from.  After spending the past couple of weeks combing her book list, several professional texts about mentor texts, and my own bookshelves, I have a list of 160 books.

So you think my problem is that I have to pair down my list, right?  Removing ten books would be easy, but that’s not the issue.  I truly feel like I’m forgetting some of the best books out there.  While I cannot put all of my favorite books on this list, I feel as though I must be forgetting something important that should be on this list.  (NOTE: All of the books are picture books: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  I did include a few short story books and a few novels in verse.)  While the course doesn’t begin until mid-June, I’m meeting with an undergraduate student on this-coming Tuesday.  She’s going to help me pull the books for the book carts I’ll keep in the classroom during the class.  Hence, my sense of urgency for making sure I have all of the titles I need on the list I give to her on April 3rd.

Therefore, I’m asking a favor of those of you who are book lovers and/or elementary and middle school teachers.  Would you mind taking a peek over the book list I’ve drafted for the course I’m teaching in June?  Is there a brilliant mentor text you know and love that you think I’m missing?  If so, would you be so kind as to leave a comment with the title and author on this post?

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mentor texts

Stacey Shubitz View All

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

30 thoughts on “Great Mentor Texts for Teachers Leave a comment

  1. glad you liked the list! I hope you love the books 🙂 Bear Hunt is an absolute favourite.

    I have a modest blog at sproutschool.wordpress.com if you’d like to come past and leave a comment. I will have to blog about these books!

    🙂

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  2. Stacey,
    Here are a few of my choices. I’m not sure if you already have them on your list since I wasn’t able to open it;
    The Table Where the Rich People Sit
    I Love You the Purplest-For teaching voice
    Cookie’s Week-For teaching structure with early writers

    Val

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  3. Stacey,

    I must first say, AWESOME list. You have reminded me of some forgotten favorites and introduced me to some new titles. Later today I will be consulting your list when I visit my public library. A couple additional titles to consider…Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama and Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce SIdman (really any of her poetry books are mentor worthy)…another Rylant title Let’s Go Home – the illustrations by Wendy Anderson Halperin are as inspiring as the words.
    I would love to be a student in your class! ~ Theresa

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  4. I love that you are sharing your list. Here are a few of my favorites.
    Favorite Mentor Texts

    Momma, Where Are You From – Marie Bradby
    Twilight Comes Twice – Ralph Fletcher
    An Interview With Harry the Tarantula – Leigh Ann Tyson
    Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street – Roni Schotter
    On the Other Side – Jacqueline Woodson
    If You’re Not From the Prairie – David Bouchard
    I Remember Papa – Helen Ketteman
    Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne
    The Important Book – Margaret Wise Brown
    All the Places to Love – Sarah Perry
    Come On, Rain – Karen Hess

    One of my favorite mentor text sites is: http://www.writingfix.com

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  5. Up North at the Cabin by Marsha Wilson Chall…I use it as a mentor text in reading and then in writing for repeated lines, a circular story, and figurative language. The kids make great connections (including their teacher) because she is a local author (Minnesota) and many have gone “Up North” to a cabin. This book is one I share when I work with teachers introducing the idea of using “mentor texts” in their classrooms.

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  6. I cannot begin to thank all of you for the suggestions you’ve given me. Some of you have provided me with books I was unfamiliar with (and am ordering right now), while others of you have reminded me of old favorites I truly forgot to put on the list (e.g., What You Know First, Toasting Marshmellows). I really appreciate people’s willingness to review the list I posted and to make suggestions. I’ve included many of your titles on my class book list. 🙂

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  7. Wow, what a good list! I didn’t see Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School by Marc Teague. Amazing for voice, letter writing, and persuasion.

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  8. Fantastic list, like Julia, I have the sudden urge to go to the library (or start creating a wish list on Amazon or a collection on Good Reads). A couple of my favorites that I didn’t see:
    House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
    Well Defined by Michael Salinger (definition poems are always fun to write) or any of Sara Holbrook’s middle grade collections: I Never Said I Wasn’t Difficult or Walking on the Boundaries of Change. Motel of the Mysteries by David MacAulay.

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  9. Great list! I’ve used many of the texts listed (and some I want to check out). Memoirs written by children’s authors are useful mentor texts for teaching narrative: Marshfield Dreams by Fletcher, Knots in My Yo-Yo String by Spinelli, and Knucklehead by Scieszka. A favorite poetry mentor text is Dear World by Takayo Noda and I love the poetry books of Kristine O’Connell George – Little Dog Poems, Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems, Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems.

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  10. So glad you had charlotte’s web there – my all time favourite
    The other author I use a lot is Glenda Millard- I love ‘Angel breath’ A picture story book that has so much potential for a mentor text – can be used time and time again – prediction, inference, vocabulary, parallel stories, characterisation and the list goes on.

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  11. Hi! I’m an Australian teacher and it really stands out to me how important cultural context must be! I hardly know any of the books on your list, except for Eric Carle and Mem Fox.
    If you wanted some different books, these are some of the books I teach with every year –
    The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (British)
    We’re Going on a Bear Hunt AND Bear in a Cave by Michael Rosen (another British one)
    Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French (Australian)
    The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland (British)
    The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith (USA)
    Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl (UK)
    Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you See (USA)
    Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Alberg (UK)

    Have fun!

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    • @tassiegirl1980: What a great list of books you gave me. I already had some of Michael Rosen’s books on my list, but not the ones you suggested. I’m going to place an order for a few of them on Amazon.com right now. Thanks for these new inspirations!

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  12. I’ve often relied on the Yolen, MacLachlan & Rylant books-so special. I agree with Margaret above that The Van Gogh Cafe should be added & I have used Crow Call as well. I would add Round Trip by Ann Jonas if it’s available. It’s a good text for circle books. Thanks for the superb list Stacey. I bet your class is fun & filled with learning!

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  13. I have used “The Great Fuzz Frenzy” by Susan Stevens for many different teaching points in writing workshop … but not for a few years because I’ve had lower-level 1st graders and we’re still struggling with letter formation! So I don’t have more info on the teaching points (and the book is at school)… but I’d be happy to post those next week when I go back to school from spring break. Love your list !

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  14. I love Ish and I also seriously love What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan–when I taught 5th grade they loved it. Peter’s Chair by Jack Ezra Keats is also a good one. It sounds like it will be a great class! I can’t wait to see the final list.

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  15. What a great list – a great resource. I agree with some of the other books listed, but also these ones as well:

    *Two Bad Ants and The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg
    *any books by Judith Viorst, especially Alex. and No Good…Very Bad Day and The Tenth Thing About Barney
    *Who is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel
    *any books by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (Stinky Cheeseman… and “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

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  16. I want to take your class! I like- Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
    The Dot by Peter Reynolds and ish by Peter Reynolds and of course anything by Cynthia Rylant is good When I Was Young in the Mountains is my favorite.
    Are you sure I can’t take your class long distance??? Pleeeeeeaaasssseee:)
    Tammy

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    • @Tammy: I definitely forgot Ish. Ooooh, thanks! (No distance learning option at this time, sorry. Thanks for the kind sentiment.)

      @everyone else: Your suggestions are fabulous. Thanks so much for your willingness to help! I’ll post the final list at some point.

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  17. What a great list! Here are a few that I use with my kindergarten students:

    Swim! Swim! by Lerch ISBN 978-0-545-33136-4
    Hoptoad by Jane Yolen
    In November by Cynthia Rylant
    Any Elephant and Piggy book by Mo Willems
    Llama Llama Red Pajama or Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney

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  18. This is a fabulous list. So many of my favorite and go-to books are on it, and then there are a bunch I’ve never read! I have the sudden urge to get to the library..

    A few more I’d include:

    Diary of a Worm, Doreen Cronin
    Look to the North, Jean Craighead George

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  19. Great list, but a few of my favorites are missing….
    Thank You, Mr. Falker, Patricia Polacco
    Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman
    Fishing Sunday by Toni Johnston
    Crow Call by Lois Lowry
    LuLu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

    Hope this helps! 🙂 Oh, and I wish I could be in your class!

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  20. I use Come on Rain by Karen Hesse – for sensory details and descriptions – good for understanding tone. She also has Out of the Dust – novel as poetry

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  21. Stacy,
    This is a great list! I don’t, however, see anything by Barbara O’Connor. She is masterful at using details- I teach my fourth graders “rule of three,” meaning that they need three details to support their idea, or to help their readers visualize, or to keep the rhythm of the text going. O’Connor is masterful at that. My favorites by her are HOW TO STEAL A DOG and OWEN JESTER.

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  22. I scanned the list for two of my favorites: Love that Dog by Sharon Creech you have, Van Gogh Cafe by Cynthia Rylant you don’t. You have some by Cynthia Rylant, but Van Gogh Cafe has a unique structure in that the last line of each chapter tells you the title of the next chapter. Kids love this book. Another favorite of Rylant’s is The Islander. This one is not as well known. It is a beautiful book about a boy and his grandfather. The boy finds a magical key. The book is small and filled with magic, a great source for found poems.

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