mentor texts · op-ed · picture book · poetry

Mentor Texts and Journal Articles and Professional Books… Oh My!

Mentor Author, Mentor Texts is the required reading for the course I’m teaching. My students will pick one of the other books to read as part of a professional literature circle.

A BIG thank you to the people who graciously responded to the post I wrote in March when I was compiling the book list for the graduate course I’m teaching.  The titles you suggested were great additions to the rough draft of the book list I had compiled.  Unfortunately, some of the books were not available in the university library system, so I was unable to have them pulled and put on the book cart for my classroom.  (Sigh.)  That being said, there are over 140 books that will be on the cart in my classroom when the class I’m teaching begins on Monday.  This means my students will have many choices when they pick books to use as a demonstration text for the minilesson they’ll prepare and deliver and for the craft table they’ll create.

For those of you who are interested in seeing the final list, you can click on the link below to download it.

Books Available on the Classroom Cart

Further, I have quite a few books and poems I’ll be reading aloud and using in my lectures and in writing exercises with my students.  Those texts are:

  • “Eleven” (from Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories) by Sandra Cisneros
  • Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts
  • —I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff
  • Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman
  • “Millions of Strawberries” by Genevieve Taggard
  • “My Side of the Story” (from First French Kiss and Other Traumas) by Adam Bagdasarian
  • Silver Seeds: A Book of Nature Poems by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer
  • “Skating in the Wind” by Kristine O’Connell George
  • “Soap Bubble” by Valerie Worth
  • Sophie’s Fish by A.E. Cannon
  • Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
  • What You Wish For: A Book for Darfurcompiled by Book Wish Foundation
    • Specifically my students will be reading “Wishes” by Jane Yolen, “What I Wish For” by Gary Soto, “Secret Song” by Naomi Shihab Nye, and “I Wish I Could Live (in a book)” by Nikki Giovanni.
  • “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

Also, when we study argument writing, they’ll be reading the following opinion articles prior to drafting their own op-ed pieces:

Finally, for those of you who are interested in getting a hold of some journal articles about using children’s literature to enhance the teaching of writing, here’s the list of journal articles I put on reserve for my students to use in conjunction with the course I’m teaching.

  • Gay, C. (1976). Reading aloud and learning to write. The Elementary School   Journal, 77: 87-93.
  • Gilles, C. (2000). Talking about Books “Mem’s the Word”: Examining the Writing of Mem Fox. Language Arts, 77, 250-257.
  • Griffith, R.R. (2010). Students Learn to Read Like Writers: A Framework for Teachers of Writing. Reading Horizons, 50, 49-66.
  • Lancia, P.J. (1997). Literary borrowing: The effects of literature on children’s writing. The Reading Teacher, 50, 470-475.
  • Moss, B. and Kane, C. (2010). Using Multicultural Mentor Texts to Teach Writing. In L. Smolen, and R. Oswald (Eds.), Multicultural Literature and Response: Affirming Diverse Voices (pp. 357-370). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  • Napoli, M. and Ritholz, E.R. (2009). Using Jacqueline Woodson’s Locomotion with Middle School Readers. Voices from the Middle, 16, 31-39.
  • Ray, K.W. (2006). Exploring Inquiry as a Teaching Stance in the Writing Workshop. Language Arts, 83, 238-247.
  • Shubitz, S. (2009). Using Mentor Texts to Differentiate for Young Writers. Statement, 45, 24-26.
  • Smolkin, L.B., Donovanm C. & Labbo, L.D. (2005). Looking Closely at a Science Trade Book: Gail Gibbons and Multimodal Literacy. Language Arts, 83, 5.

14 thoughts on “Mentor Texts and Journal Articles and Professional Books… Oh My!

    1. @Adrienne: Use the search capability (scroll to the bottom of our blog’s main page) and type in “craft table.” Quite a few blog posts will come up. I suggest reading them from oldest to newest. That should help.


    1. @Janet: Many of the books serve multiple purposes and can teach multiple skills, which is why I have them on the list. If you’re looking for a book list that’s broken out by things you can teach, then consult the appendix of Mentor Texts and Nonfiction Mentor Texts. Dorfman and Cappelli have a fantastic breakdown of how to use many books by skill. (Please note: not all of the books on my list are in their book.)


  1. Wow! Quite a list! I’m happy to see some of my all-time favorites make the cut. 🙂 I’m visiting the public library this summer to read more of the titles, and I bet I’ll be purchasing some new books this summer. Thanks again for sharing your work!


  2. Thank you for sharing with us. What a work you have done putting these lists together. I hope we will hear/read more about your work with the grad students.


  3. Stacey,
    Thank you for sharing this info. I am building my summer reading stack and see several additional titles here. Would love to be a student in your class! ~ Theresa


  4. Oh my goodness…that is an incredible list and I love your idea of giving them choice for their lit circle discussion, Harvey would love it. I just finished teaching a similar class and it is so, so much fun to talk about books together. I love the new non-fiction books that have voice…my favorite is One Giant Leap. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and I will try them next year. My students did ‘blippets’….a word I made up combo of blog and snippets weekly…thanks to you and Ruth encouraging me to slice starting in March. I can’t wait to dig into your journal suggestions. xo nanc


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