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A New Mentor Text for Opinion Writing

For years, I’ve felt as though I’ve only had a handful of picture books I could use as mentor texts for a persuasive writing unit of study (i.e., Earrings by Judith Viorst, all three I Wanna books by Karen Kaufman Orloff, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt). I know there are more than these five out there just by searching for comp titles on Amazon. However, I hadn’t found anything I wanted to use until I was browsing the shelves at the Bank Street Bookstore this summer. Here’s what I found:

I was giddy with excitement as I turned the pages of One Word from Sophia since I’ve been waiting for a book like this for what feels like years. Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail‘s book is ideal to use when launching a persuasive writing unit of study since it is a fun way for children to think about what makes a compelling argument.

Sophia goes to great lengths to persuade her family members she should receive a pet giraffe on her next birthday. She presents strong arguments to the people who hold the power: her mom, her dad, her uncle, and her grandmother. She creates slideshows, graphs, pie charts, statistics, and even a business plan to help her persuade her family to think her way. Sophia does all of these things, but doesn’t convince anyone — until she employs the most important word. (Can you guess what it is?)

If you employ this book as a read aloud at the beginning of a persuasive writing unit of study, there are several things you can reference from One Word from Sophia in your minilessons or conferences:

  • Sophia stated her claim and provides a variety of reasons why she should receive a pet giraffe.
  • Sophia used transition words and phrases, such as also and in short,  to help piece together her evidence about why she should have a giraffe.
  • Sophia organized her argument to group together related ideas (e.g., giraffes are good transportation than cars; her business plan about how much money she’d make by providing manure to garden centers). N.B.: The first presentation of her case to her mom included the most reasons or examples.
    • Sophia’s mom felt her argument too verbose, which you might want to discuss with students. As a result, her arguments got shorter and shorter with every family member she approached in an effort to persuade them to get her a pet giraffe.  When students write opinion pieces we want to make sure they’re providing readers with several sentences about each reason they’re giving so as to advance their claim.
  • Sophia used a variety of evidence — facts, polls, and examples — to strengthen her argument.
  • Sophia had a serious tone in an effort to persuade her family members to think her way.

NOTE: Sophia is young girl who doesn’t have any counter-arguments. This makes sense seeing as this book is for 4-8 year-olds. That said, if you were to use this book with older students, you would want to make note of her lack of counter-arguments.

Take a peek inside of One Word from Sophia:

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Giveaway Information:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen IsmailMany thanks to Atheneum Books for Young Readers for donating a copy for one reader (USA mailing addresses only).
  • For a chance to win this copy of One Word from Sophia, please leave a comment about this book and/or persuasive writing by Friday, October 9th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Monday, October 12th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Atheneum Books will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are now closed.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment. John Kilgore’s commenter number was selected so he’ll win a copy of One Word from Sophia. Here’s what he wrote:

You are absolutely right…We need more mentor text to motivate students and give them models for writing!  This books sounds absolutely great for this and I plan on getting a copy.  I also appreciate you leaving some other title names because I am always looking for more…each week, they should have one to be a model for writing!  Thanks for sharing!

 

Stacey Shubitz View All

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

161 thoughts on “A New Mentor Text for Opinion Writing Leave a comment

  1. This sounds like a fantastic mentor text! I love that she goes into “slideshows, graphs, pie charts, statistics, and even a business plan”–hilarious!

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  2. I read a picture book every day in my MS writing classes, using the books as mentor texts for 6 trait writing, among other things. I use Arnie the Doughnut when teaching persuasive, and I would love another mentor text to add to the collection for that writing genre. Thank you!

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  3. I like how Sophia picks a giraffe, an animal not found in any homes, to be her pet. She is going to have to really sell the idea of having a pet giraffe to her parents. I think this book will be a great addition to the mentor text we already have

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  4. I am always looking for texts to use for many purposes. This text seems awesome for my reading intervention students and classes I go into to co-teach. I am eager to get my hands on this one:) Thanks for the suggestion:)

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  5. Thanks for the suggestion! I, too, struggle to find interesting and well-written mentor texts for opinion writing. Because there are so few “out there,” the same books seem to be used across grade levels. Something new is refreshing!

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  6. I love the way her father coaches Sophia on how to edit her argument as shown in the pages you shared! I have used I Wanna Iguana in the past, but it was never enough to help my students fully understand persuasive writing. I definitely want to check out this book! Thanks!

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  7. You are absolutely right…We need more mentor text to motivate students and give them models for writing! This books sounds absolutely great for this and I plan on getting a copy. I also appreciate you leaving some other title names because I am always looking for more…each week, they should have one to be a model for writing! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I just facilitated a W. Workshop Class on opinion writing yesterday. This post was just in time for me to share this great mentor text and your blog with teachers. I am excited to use it as well.

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  9. You are so right, Stacey! It IS hard to find good mentor texts for opinion writing for young students. So, I appreciate this post so much. Thanks for sharing the older titles you’ve used, as well as this new one. It sounds perfect.

    By the way, I’ve shared the Two Writing Teachers blog with the staff at my school and with my Literacy Coach. She thinks it’s the best writing blog out there! 🙂

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  10. This would be a great book to have in my 3rd grade classroom. I have been looking for an idea of how to get the kids thinking more persuasively.

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  11. What a delightful book! Like everyone else, I’m always looking for quality books for argument writing in any grade! Thanks for sharing with us!

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  12. Great book! Great ideas! I use The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home for opinion and letter writing mentor text, and One Word From Sophia will fit in beautifully with these great book. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. We are just starting into writing. I love finding texts to help them see what writing is all about since our world is small at First Grade. Thanks!!!

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    • I am always looking for resources like this book to share with my teachers. I promote using literacy across the curriculum and can’t wait to add One Word from Sophia to our library!

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  14. I can’t wait to get a copy of this book to introduce opinion writing to my 2nd graders. Mentor texts are a key part of teaching students about different styles of writing.

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  15. I can’t wait to read this book and use it for our persuasive writing unit! The kids are going to love that poop is mentioned…they are eight and nine after all! The list of possible uses as a mentor text is also very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  16. I’d LOVE to win a copy!!! I’m a second grade teacher and would completely adore reading this but on top of that my daughter’s name is Sofia (with an F but that’s ok;)).

    Anyway, we buy books with strong characters in our daughters’ names. Yay for this book!

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  17. This is awesome. Today we had a discussion at an inservice about persuasive writing in the elementary grades. I will be looking at this as a resource. Thanks!

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  18. I am a recent subscriber to this feed and have found many helpful writing tips. Thank you for finding another mentor text that I can use with my second graders!

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  19. Thank you for sharing this mentor text! I love when you feature great finds like this! I just changed from fourth grade to second grade so this kind of text is exactly what I’m looking for. Another suggestion for perhaps older students is A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea, which I used as a mentor text for persuasive essays.

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  20. Sophia is a strong female character, I need to teach my students persuasive writing, and I love the humour and illustrations! All great reasons to get this book.

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  21. It s interesting that I recently had a conversation similar to Sophias with my high school senior who wants teacup pig for a pet! I think even at 17 she would have to admit to being entertained by this story.

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  22. Picture books work really well with all my 6th grade ELA students. As mentioned in this post, be aware/be sure to point out that this book does not acknowledge the counter argument. Another helpful resource in teaching persuasive writing is using the Four-Square Argument chart (Kelly Gallagher, Write Like This, p. 177). Mr. Gallagher states the chart helps students “flush out all the sides of the issue” (Gallagher, 2011). I have used the chart with my students and it helped them to realize/acknowledge the issue from the opposing side and not just their side of the argument.

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  23. Oh wow! This would be a delightful read aloud to use with both children and my teachers when planning together for our upcoming opinion writing units of study. Thank you for this book idea!

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  24. My favorite mentor text for opinion/ persuasive writing is the book a pig parade is a terrible idea. It contains a counter argument as well as a good conclusion.

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  25. I love this book for so many reasons!! Besides being such a great mentor text to work with persuasive writing, with the limited number of books with a beautiful, bright, girl of color this selection should be in everyone’s diverse library. I often use picture books in my high school classes both as mentor text and hooks for reluctant readers. As a social studies teacher, I use pictures so often to teach concepts, my students sometimes forget they aren’t in reading class.

    I think you make some fantastic points about Sophia’s use of transitions and slowly trimming down the length of her arguments. I hope the authors are working on a sequel!

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  26. I am always grateful when people share new mentor text ideas! I love using picture books as mentor texts for all of my writing units and have needed to freshen up my persuasive collection. This seems perfect! Thank you for including the mention of the lack of counter-arguments! Fingers are crossed!

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  27. It’s interesting to me that when I was in school, persuasive writing was saved for high school when we all know that children often have the most creative and often irrefutable arguments! I know I’ve been worn down by a child more than once.

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  28. This book has the same problem that most (all) children’s books have as mentor texts for persuasive writing (I Wanna Iguana, for example)–they’re not written in the “essay” form that is the expectation for persuasive texts that kids write in school. Personally, I would rather see kids write engaging narrative/persuasive texts rather than boring persuasive essays in the 5-paragraph format. Nevertheless, it’s a great example of reasons and examples that kids will find interesting and humorous, so it works in that sense.

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  29. I totally agree…mentor texts for opinions are so hard to find and this book looks like a honey! I also love going with easier to read book for the upper grades. It makes it easier for them to understand. Thanks for this. xo nanc

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  30. I can’t wait to use this book. It’s always a bonus when you have a student with the same name as the main character! I put it in my shopping cart already and will buy it if I don’t win it!

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  31. Adorable illustrations! Argumentative writing with 6th grade can be challenging but once they start they usually love it. I’ve been looking for a great mentor text like this!

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  32. Can’t wait to use this as a mentor text during our persuasive writing unit! I appreciate all the suggestions on TWT and have incorporated many of them into my classroom.

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  33. I was just having a related conversation with a colleague about Units of Study. So many of the books are older. Thank you for bringing a new one into my repretoire. Thank you to you and Antheneum Books for sponsoring this giveaway.

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  34. Clever character, clever book. Kids will enjoy her boldness and persistence! I used to love using I Need a Lunchbox as a kind of persuasive text. Not sure if it’s still in print. It was also very helpful for teaching younger students the difference between “I need…,” and “I want….”
    Kinda’ similar to this character’s dilemma. Would love to have the book!

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  35. Thank you for not only the title of this book, but the concrete ideas to use as lessons in the class. Do you think it would be effective with middle school boys?

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  36. Thanks for sharing this title! It will be a perfect mentor text for our Kindergarten and 1st Grade teachers to use with their persuasive/opinion writing units. I’m wondering how many of our kids will guess the “one word” that Sophia uses!?!

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  37. I would love to win a copy of this book to share with the teachers in my schools! I’m a K-5 literacy coach, and this book sounds perfect! Thanks for all of your timely posts. I share them out often!

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  38. My second graders will love this! We’re in the middle of an opinion writing unit now, and Sophia seems like just the spark we need to re-energize!

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  39. Using mentor texts, like this one, helps engage the readers and allows for those connections. I am looking forward to using with students as well as my own children. 😉

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  40. Great post! I always had a hard time with a mentor text for this unit. Kids are so cagey in their methods, it’s a thing that they know well and can capture verbally without sounding whiney! I love the little prompts and the strong use of words in defense of the argument. Not just for 4-8 year olds, that’s for sure! Great template for all grades!

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  41. Hurray for a fresh look at sharing opinions! So often we use the same mentor texts in our classrooms and by fifth grade, students are not so interested in those old familiar books. I can’t wait to have my own copy to share in the classroom!

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  42. This book looks amazing. I teach middle school students, and I could see us coming up with some of those counter-arguments together. What a great way to kick off a unit. And wanting a giraffe is awesome- what a great idea on the part of the author! K

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    • I totally agree with you about persuasive mentor texts. It does seem as if everyone is using those same few you mentioned. I can’t wait to check this book out!

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  43. What a great book! From the few pages that you shared, Stacey, I’m especially excited about the layers that this book has to offer. From “reading” the illustrations to “how would YOU have presented your arguments?” make this book really accessible to lots of grade levels. And who wouldn’t want a giraffe for a pet??

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  44. Thank you for sharing this book! I am always looking for mentor texts for the opinion unit of study and this one is exactly what we need. I am so excited to read the whole thing!

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  45. Thank you for not only sharing a great mentor text but also providing pointers on how this text can support with using the text to help elicit from students the various characteristics of persuasive writing. I can’t wait to add this to the collection of books that I use with students as I get them to explore the persuasive writing genre and then get them to become authors and write their own persuasive pieces.
    Thank your once again not only for the resource but also your insights into how it can be used in a classroom

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  46. I cannot wait to start using this book as I model lessons in classrooms. I, too, have fewer quality Opinion Writing mentor texts and this looks like a great addition to my collection! Thank you!

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  47. In our kindergarten classes, we love “I Wanna Iguana” for our opinion mentor text. Sophia looks like another great fit for 5 and 6 year olds! Thanks for the opportunity to win, and for bringing this great book to my attention!

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  48. Looks like a beautiful book and will inspire talk and writing among my primary aged students! Thanks for the sample pages. It gives a taste of how humorous the book is, also!

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  49. Thank you for another wonderful opportunity to receive a book. And for another post that we can use, not only for this book, but as a mentor for thinking about other books.

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  50. My students have been begging for a class pet. My mind has been concocting a persuasive writing challenge. Looks like I have a go-to resource now! Thanks for sharing this text and ideas for using it as a mentor!

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  51. I will teach a process writing course this spring to graduate students and as I love discovering new books to share, this sounds like the perfect addition to my collection. Thank you for introducing me to a must have mentor text!!

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  52. Hi Stacey – This looks great! Although we’ve been using The Day the Crayons Quit in 2nd grade and up, we’ve been struggling to find a mentor text which is appropriate for primary. The illustrations look amazing! Thanks for sharing this gem, and for continuing to be a “staple” resource in our writing classrooms.

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  53. The timing of this post is perfect! I start opinion writing in a few weeks, and have been thinking about which mentor texts I’ll be using.

    Thank you for your insights and fabulous blog. I read it regularly and appreciate how you highlight the realness of conducting Writer’s Workshop in the classroom.

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    • I’ve been sitting on this for over a month now. I didn’t want to blog about it in early September since I realize most people aren’t having their kids start the school year with argument writing. I’m glad it comes in handy now.

      And thank you, Kim, for your kind comments. The eight of us try our best to make sure we’re providing relevant content.

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  54. I love following your posts and so appreciate you sharing so much of what you do! This looks like such a fabulous mentor text and I love how you provided bullet points on how it can be used! Hope I win a copy 🙂

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  55. I am always excited when I see a new mentor text review for writing. I have purchased several of your suggestions over the years and have had great success using them with my students. Who doesn’t love a great children’s book?? I’ll be sure to add this one to my Amazon shopping cart if I’m not lucky enough to win the giveaway 🙂 Fingers crossed!

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  56. Thank you for sharing!!
    This is becoming a favorite genre of mine to teach and I can’t wait to use this book as a mentor. It sounds perfect!

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  57. What a fun way to illustrate the sophisticated components of a persuasive argument. Our students would enjoy it greatly! I like the support for opinions as well as use of transition words. Thank you for the recommendation!

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  58. “In short, people will pay me for poop!” Who can argue with an young entrepreneur like Sophia? This book will engage readers of all ages….I am already wondering what she will do next!

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  59. Awesome!! I love using picture books with each unit of study for my 7th and 8th graders, and always struggle to find one for persuasive. This looks fabulous!!!!!

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