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:
This giveaway is for a copy of One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail. Many 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.
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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!
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).