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New Mentor Texts for Information Writing

For a chance to win one of these books, please leave a comment about how you might use one (or more) of them in your classroom.
For a chance to win one of these books, please leave a comment about how you might use one (or more) of them in your classroom.

I’m teaching an online graduate course, The Teaching of Writing K-12, for Lesley University this semester. This week my students jump into information writing. Therefore, I thought I’d devote this week’s blog post to exemplary nonfiction mentor texts.

As many of you already know, my co-authors and I wrapped-up our “Diving into Information Writing Blog Series” last week. (Click here in case you missed it. – LINK TK) As Anna stated in her post:

[I]nformation writing as any kind of writing with the primary purpose of explaining or imparting information. (Though information writing and opinion/argument writing are often grouped together, the purpose of opinion writing is to convince readers of something, which necessitates a different kind of instruction.) Reports, feature articles, information books, informative websites, and lectures are some of the kinds of writing that fit in the information writing category. This genre is a fascinating one structurally, because it often contains snippets of other genres within it, including small narratives and essay-like sections, making it sometimes hard to recognize and define. The sky is the limit with it comes to information writing, so it’s important to balance instruction with a combination of grounding fundamentals and creativity-inspiring tips and mentors.

In primary grades, information writing is often referred to as an “All About” piece (e.g., “All About My House” or “All About Dogs.” Other kinds of informational writing include “How To” pieces (e.g., “How to Tie Your Shoelaces” or “How to Travel around New York City”). As students get older, informational writing tends to look more like articles, essays, or reports. As we go through school and enter into adulthood, informational writing is often the most common genre we read on a daily basis. Regardless of what type of piece it is, we know something is information writing because it is meant to explain something or impart information.

The following list of books, all published in 2015, represents a variety of information writing. All of these are texts that can pull double- and even triple-duty in your classroom, thereby allowing you to use a text during a read aloud time, which you can revisit during a writing minlesson and/or in a content area. To that end, I list two or three mentor text possibilities of the picture books below. My “possibilities” are by no means exhaustive. In fact, I only recommend books I feel are worthy of buying and using with students since they can be used as mentors to teach young writers how to do many things.

 

AaronAndAlexAaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History by Don Brown (Roaring Brook Press)

Publisher’s Summary: Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were both fierce patriots during the Revolutionary War, but the politics of the young United States of America put them in constant conflict. Their extraordinary story of bitter fighting and resentment culminates in their famous duel. For young patriots who may not yet know the shocking and tragic story, Aaron and Alexander captures the spirit of these two great men who so valiantly served their country and ultimately allowed their pride and ego to cause their demise.

Mentor Text Possibilities: If you’re looking for a book that will help you teach the compare/contrast text structure to your students, then look no further than Aaron and Alexander. Brown spends the first part of the book comparing and contrasting their lives. Even though Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were “two orphans, two patriots, two war veterans and two public servants of the nation” they were vastly different. The structure of the book helps readers better understand their similarities and differences.

Brown embeds full and partial quotes throughout the book (something that’s tricky for many kids to do well) in a way that feels natural. This is because the tone of the book is engaging. If your students need assistance with embedding quotations — full or partial — into their writing, then a close study of this book will help them.

9780763673260Child Convicts by Net Brennan (Candlewick Press)

Publisher’s Summary: At the age of seven, children in eighteenth-century Britain were tried in court like adults. For crimes such as picking pockets or stealing clothes, they could be sentenced to death by hanging or transported to the then-perilous and isolated colonies of Australia. Life in the colonies was often as difficult and dangerous as the poverty from which many of the convicts came, but the dreaded sentence of transportation could also present opportunities. In a fascinating volume filled with historical photos and drawings, today’s young readers can consider anecdotes of youthful prisoners from long ago, whose new lives on the shores of Australia ran the gamut from the boy who became the first person hanged on its soil to the girl whose photo is now on the twenty-dollar note. Back matter includes a glossary, bibliography, index, and web resources.

Mentor Text Possibilities: When I think about the kinds of things I would teach upper elementary students in an information writing unit of study I think about all of the kinds of things that make Child Convicts a great read. It starts with a table of contents, headings/subheadings, captions, quotes (full and partial), text features (e.g., maps, photographs, timelines) that enhance the text, strong teaching tone, a glossary, and a reference list that includes a bibliography and image credits. While I love all of the texts on this list — and they all have many things you can teach young writers to do — Child Convicts is the one that has the most nonfiction elements of all.

NOTE: This picture book is for an upper elementary (or older) audience.

 

FabFourFriends jkt des3 hiresFab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the BEATLES by Susanna Reich and Adam Gustvason (Christy Ottaviano Books)

Publisher’s Summary: In 1957 in Liverpool, England, a young lad named John Lennon and his band played music at a local church fair. In the audience was Paul McCartney, who liked what he heard and soon joined the group. Paul’s friend George Harrison kept showing up at rehearsals until the older boys finally let him in. Eventually they found the perfect drummer, Ringo Starr, and the perfect name: The Beatles.

Told through a lyrical text and stunning paintings, this book spotlights four ordinary boys growing up amid the rubble of postwar England who found music to be a powerful, even life-saving, force.

Mentor Text Possibilities: There are many books about the Beatles. Fab Four Friends is an engaging read for kids who are being introduced to the Beatles for the first time. Reich’s word choice is deliberate; she explains words by utilizing a glossary in the back of the book, which is something we can teach writers to create if they don’t want to disrupt the flow of their writing with definitions.

Reich shares the ups and downs of the Beatles’ young lives with readers in a sensitive way. She does this by making deliberate choices about what kind of information to include and then does it with an appropriate tone for young readers. Any student faced with writing about unfortunately incidents in a person’s life will benefit from taking a cue from Reich.

9780802854322Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo by Cassandre Maxwell (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

Publisher’s Summary: Abraham Dee Bartlett knew from a young age that he wanted to spend his life working with animals. But in Victorian London, there weren’t many jobs that provided an opportunity to do that. Still, Abraham spent years gaining knowledge and pursuing his dream until he eventually became superintendent in the London Zoo. Driven by his compassion for the animals, Abraham dramatically improved the conditions of the zoo to ensure that the animals could be happy and healthy.

Mentor Text Possibilities: The first time I read through this book, I noticed there was a variety of punctuation (e.g., commas, dashes, and varied end punctuation) that helped include explanations and extra information throughout the text. To that end, the punctuation in this book created a unique voice, which makes for an inviting teaching tone throughout the text.

There’s a unique timeline, located in the book’s back matter. It has dates and explanations listed in two different colors, one of which represents the main events in Abraham Dee Bartlett’s wife and the other that represents the London Zoo and world event. This kind of timeline provides greater context for readers; therefore it can be shown to writers who are attempting to create a more intricate timeline.

Layout 1Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate (Peachtree Publishers)

Publisher’s Summary: In the nineteenth century, North Carolina slave George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

Mentor Text Possibilities: Tate chronicles Horton’s life in a way that engages readers and makes them think deeply about the extraordinary life Horton as he went from a slave to a free person. Tate does this by using a storyteller’s voice, which is something you can study alongside students.

There are several quotations from Horton’s poems that are incorporated in the text. You’ll find citations for those excerpts in the back matter of the text. Pointing out the quotations and citations are an excellent way to teach students how to attribute credit (in their text and) in a bibliography.

NOTE: Peachtree created a teacher’s guide for Poet. Click here to view it.

Swan_FC_HiRes_3DSwan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad (Chronicle Books)

Publisher’s Summary: One night, young Anna’s mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is a heartbreakingly beautiful picture book biography perfect for aspiring ballerinas of all ages.

Mentor Text Possibilities: Every now and then I will read a beautiful, lyrical biography that does not weigh the reader down with dates and facts, but still conveys a rich portrait of a person’s life. Swan is one of those books. We learn about Anna Pavlova’s life through a poetic text in the body of the book. There is a two-page author’s note that conveys the specifics of Anna’s life. You could lead an inquiry with some of your more sophisticated writers to study the way Snyder tells the story of Anna Pavlova in a poetic way that employs the present tense, something you don’t see regularly in biographies.

Because of this book’s unique form, it makes an excellent text for making purposeful word choices (e.g., precise nouns, specific verbs). In addition, the sentence lengths are varied and there is some exquisite repetition in the text.

The Book Itch

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and R. Gregory Christie (Carolrhoda Books)

Publisher’s Summary: In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore.

And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people—Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father’s book itch. Read the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.

Mentor Text Possibilities: Readers are introduced to a famous landmark, the National Memorial African Bookstore, and the man behind it, Lewis Michaux, Sr. The narrator’s tone is compelling since it comes as the voice of Lewis Michaux, Jr. who was a child during the height of his father’s bookstore, which coincided with the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Some of Michaux Sr.’s slogans (e.g., “Knowledge is power. You need it every hour. Read a book!”; “Don’t get took! Read a book!”) for selling books are featured in bold print throughout the book and are highlighted again on decorative endpapers. That said, if you’re looking for a book to help students understand how to craft informational writing that has voice, then this is a book you’ll want to study alongside your students since Nelson writes in a way where she creates voice through her sentences, through her use of punctuation, and through the details she chooses to include.

NOTE: The Classroom Bookshelf Blog unpacked this text and has shared many possibilities for using this text with students. Click here to read their post.

9780763665845The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch (Candlewick Press)

Publisher’s Summary: At a young age, John Howland learned what it meant to take advantage of an opportunity. Leaving the docks of London on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Pilgrim John Carver, John Howland little knew that he was embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. By his great good fortune, John survived falling overboard on the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and he earned his keep ashore by helping to scout a safe harbor and landing site for his bedraggled and ill shipmates. Would his luck continue to hold amid the dangers and adversity of the Pilgrims’ lives in New England? John Howland’s tale is masterfully told in his own voice, bringing an immediacy and young perspective to the oft-told Pilgrims’ story. P.J. Lynch captures this pivotal moment in American history in precise and exquisite detail, from the light on the froth of a breaking wave to the questioning voice of a teen in a new world.

Mentor Text Possibilities: This 64-page picture book contains the personal story of John Howland who made his way to America on the Mayflower as John Carver’s manservant. While the publisher states it’s for students ages 7 – 10, I think older students will be intrigued by this first-person account of the journey to the New World.  The book reads like a novel in that it has different sections that almost feel like chapter titles (e.g., London, The Mayflower, America). With the exception of the London portion of the book, the Mayflower and Amerca sections of the text contain sub-headings to help readers navigate the text.

When young writers take on writing about someone’s life, they’re unsure of where to begin and end. This book can help students think about the time frame they wish to focus on in their writing. The book takes place over the course of Howland’s first year in America. It ends with him contemplating a return to England via the Fortune, the ship that followed the Mayflower a year later. The book ends with Howland deciding to stay in Massachusetts. It is only in the Author’s Note where readers learn it was good he didn’t return to England on the Fortune since it was taken by French pirates. In the author’s note, we learn that Howland married two years later and lived for 50 more years, having had ten children and 88 grandchildren. It is in the author’s note where readers come to understand that Howland, who came to the New World with so little, died with so much.

There are numerous things we can teach students to do as writers since this is a text-heavy picture book.

CaseforLoving_highres_coverThe Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Publisher’s Summary: For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.

This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court – and won!

Mentor Text Possibilities: “First comes love. Then comes marriage.” They are phrases we know so well and it’s how Alko choose to open The Case for Loving. Readers are immediately brought into the world of the Lovings because the book is based on the fact that love, marriage, and having a family are basic rights which the Lovings were denied.   From page one, readers are hooked and invested in this story.

The Case for Loving contains a variety of information like dates, details, examples, and quotes that helps convey information about the Lovings Supreme Court case in a way that’s accessible to children.  In addition, some phrases in the text are crafted in a way to have a strong effect on readers (e.g., “Brand-new ideas, like equal rights for people of all colors, were replacing old, fearful ways of thinking.”).

The back matter of this text includes author’s and illustrator’s notes, a source list, and suggestions for further reading. The source list, in particular, is worthy of sharing with students since it contains a variety of sources (e.g., magazines, newspapers, books, film, and web).

 

Fantastic Ferris Wheel jkt des1 hiresThe Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris by Betsy Harvey Kraft and Steven Salerno (Christy Ottaviano Books)

Publisher’s Summary: The World’s Fair in Chicago, 1893, was to be a spectacular event: architects, musicians, artists, and inventors worked on special exhibits to display the glories of their countries. But the Fair’s planners wanted something really special, something on the scale of the Eiffel Tower, which had been constructed for France’s fair three years earlier. At last, engineer George Ferris had an idea―a crazy, unrealistic, gigantic idea. He would construct a twenty-six-story tall observation wheel.

The planners didn’t think it could be done. They called it a “monstrosity.” It wouldn’t be safe. But George fought for his design. Finally, in December 1892, with only four months to go until the fair, George was given permission to build his wheel. He had to fight the tight schedule, bad weather, and general disapproval. Against all odds, the Ferris Wheel turned out to be the talk of the Fair, and proof that dreaming big dreams could pay off. Today, George’s Ferris Wheel is an icon of adventure and amusement throughout the world.

Mentor Text Possibilities: This book is a biography, but it’s also a text about the first large-scale observation wheel, which was invented by George Ferris. Some of the illustrations almost feel like text features since they include measurements to help readers better understand the scale of the observation wheel George wanted to build. As a result, one could point out some of these illustrations in the text as a means to help writers make deliberate choices about text features they can employ to help them emphasize key points.

I’m always on the look-out for strong leads and endings and this book has both. The lead hooks the reader and gets him/her thinking about a young boy who daydreams about wheels from the first page spread. The ending circles back to a young boy (who we now know is George Ferris) daydreaming about waterwheels. It closes with a message that reminds readers that the world needs people who can turn their dreams into inventions.

 

Giveaway Information

  • Several publishing houses are giving away one copy of each book listed above.  Many thanks to Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, Eerdmans, Lerner Books, Macmillan, Peachtree Publishers and Scholastic for donating a copy for TWT readers.
  • For a chance to win this copy of one of the titles above, please leave a comment about this post by Monday, November 23rd at 11:59 p.m. EST. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Wednesday, November 25th.
    • NOTES:
      • I will draw the winners’ names and assign the books at random unless you state, in your comment, which books you’re most interested in using in your classroom and why.  Preference will be given to those (whose names are chosen) who mention specific titles in their comments.
      • Most publishers only ship books to people in the United States, while others will ship worldwide. Please leave your geographic location, if you do NOT live in the United States and/or have a U.S. mailing address, when you leave a comment.  
      • Listing the name of the book does not guarantee you’ll win a copy of it if your name is one of the ten chosen since multiple people might request the same book(s).
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – 2015 NONFICTION. 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.

I used a random number generator to pick the winners for this giveaway. Here’s who will be receiving a new book:

   1.  Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History goes to Amy H. 

2.      Child Convicts goes to Holly Hanson. 

3.      Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the BEATLES goes to Dan Redding. 

4.      Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo goes to Maureen Lockie. 

5.      Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton goes to Mary Gunn. 

6.      Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova goes to aebartlein. 

7.      The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore goes to Danielle Mancinelli. 

8.      The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune goes to Janie. 

9.      The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage goes to Julia.

10.   The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris goes to Michele Knott.

Stacey Shubitz View All

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

156 thoughts on “New Mentor Texts for Information Writing Leave a comment

  1. Books are great for reading and writing minilessons! The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower and Aaron and Alexander also fit with social studies.

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  2. Thank you for the great new informational text titles. I think that Aaron and Alexander and Child Convicts would be great for my 5th graders because they tie in with social studies. Poet and Swan would help them see how people persevere.

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  3. I think The Case For Loving would be a great tie-in to our PBL unit on reporting and social justice. Thanks for the opportunity and for sharing such great NF titles!

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  4. Thank you for introducing these new titles with such interesting commentary. Any title would be gratefully appreciated, as my middle school students would enjoy each and every one!

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  5. Thank you for the list of books. I like to present information about a new book at every monthly faculty meeting and then I donate the book to our library. Your list certainly helps me with this project.

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  6. Thank you for not only the list but the added description of mentor texts. I’m always looking for great recommendations and ideas on how best to use them. I do a huge colonization unit every year and we read Blood on the River: James Town 1607 which was awesome. I think The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower would be an excellent follow-up for my kiddos. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  7. Thank you for writing about mentor texts. I use them all the time in fifth grade. I am intrigued by The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower because we teach about that time in history. However, I would love and appreciate any book!

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  8. Thank you! I am so excited to have discovered this link. I am a first-year Writing teacher of grades 6 and 7. I came across this while searching for student exemplars for Writing About Reading.

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  9. All of these mentor texts sound incredible! As the reading specialist and coach I could so much with these books to assist students and teachers!! Thank you for sharing and giving specific says the text can be used.

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  10. What an amazing set of mentor texts suggestions! I teach a creative writing workshop that empowers students to find their voice on social justice issues, The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and R. Gregory Christie sounds like the perfect mentor text to teach students to craft informational writing that has voice, thank you for sharing!

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  11. I would love to use Child Convicts in my third grade class. I think the subject matter would be extremely engaging for my students and show them that non-fiction can be very interesting. I think it would be great to use when teaching text features as well.
    I am in my third year of teaching and would absolutely love to add these texts to my library.

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  12. Thanks so much for compiling such a great list of mentor texts. I know that I would love to use The Fantastic Ferris Wheel to teach strong leads and endings.

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  13. Thank you for sharing this extensive list of mentor texts! I can’t wait to share them with my literacy coach. Which books do you recommend for second graders? I’m really interested in Swan. Thank you again for the suggestions!

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  14. I love these for mentor texts in writing!
    I would be happy with any text geared specifically for older readers! My students might enjoy the one about child convicts, The Beatles , Aaron & Alexander, or the boy who fell off the Mayflower- all of these look like compelling reads to me! Thank you

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  15. What a great post. I’m always looking for good non-fiction mentor texts. The fact that a summary was provided AND how they could be used in the classroom, perfect.

    I would love Aaron and Alexander, we are starting a Historical Fiction unit in the 4th grade about the American Revolution and I have been working hard to gather mentor texts. This would be a great addition!

    I have also wanted to get my hands on Swan for quite sometime. I have a student who dances for the Cincinnati Ballet and I think she would really connect with the story. Plus, I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book in general.

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  16. I love all the titles, but the one that intrigues me the most is The Boy Who Fell of the Mayflower. We are studying early colonization right now and my kids were fascinated when they heard someone fell overboard and survived!

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    • I teach 6th grade and do reading intervention for 6-8th grade. The students would love any of these!!!

      My top picks are:

      The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore (for my book lovers)
      Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (for my poets)
      Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova (for my lovers of dance)
      The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage (for my activists!)

      Jenny

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  17. Thank you for this wonderful list. I am interested in Aaron and Alexander. I love the idea of the this text to use with middle school students to show compare and contrast. Do you have any other great titles for cause and effect?

    Located in Maine

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  18. Thank you for sharing these books! My fourth graders would welcome any of them to our classroom library, especially Fab Four Friends. Every Friday in our classroom is “Fab Four Friday.” That day, four students get to have a special share time–something they have written or created. During quiet work time, we listen to Beatles music. They would devour this book!

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  19. I am excited for this list of mentor texts to help teach informational writing. I am especially interested in The titles “The Book Itch” and “Poet” since our second grade ELA curriculum has a unit on segregation and slavery in the USA. These books would definitely add to that unit!

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  20. Will pass these along to the teachers I coach. Great resources!! Thanks so much. The Book Itch and The Case for Loving are particularly relevant for the families in our district.

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  21. Thank you for sharing these great reads! I am particularly excited about Child Convicts, Aaron & Alexander, and The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower.

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  22. Love finding new mentor texts to use with my class. The Fantastic Ferris Wheel looks like a great book to launch our biography project. Thank you for sharing!

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  23. What a wealth of information on informational texts! I am always looking for more mentor texts, so to have another source with so much information about each book is helpful. I would love any of these books, but Child Convicts would be especially nice since I like to use mentor texts to teach text features. Thank you for this opportunity – even if I don’t win anything!

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  24. These are wonderful resources to use with students. Mentor texts are a perfect way to show students of putting words to paper to create some of the most wonderful stories.

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  25. I’m so excited to purchase some of these. I needed some fresh, new books. Thank you for also including the tips on how to include them in lessons.

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  26. My K-4 students love science and history told through picture books. Both The Boy Who Fell Off The Mayflower and The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris would make great additions to my library. Thanks for the great suggestions.

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  27. Wow! What an wonderful list of current picture book information writing mentor texts! I am most interested in The Book Itch and The Fantastic Ferris Wheel. Thank you for the opportunity.

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  28. Glad to have a new list of books close to the holidays. the Boy Who Fell Off The Mayflower sounds great! I teach colonial America and The Revolution as content so whenever I can use content as mentors in reading and writing to bridge the gap is great. Georgia

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  29. There are so many possibilities for character Ed and mind set lessons within many of these books! The “Book Itch” is one I can’t wait to get my hands on!

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  30. Amazing book recommendations. Any teacher would love to have these mentor texts in their collection of books. Students love reading about history.

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  31. My 3rd graders study biography and then do a wax museum presentation. We are on the hunt for fresh people to study and engaging ways to share the story of people’s lives. I love the idea of using Swan and The Fantastic Ferris Wheel for that.

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  32. I love the two books Swan and the Fantastic Ferris Wheel. Our 3rd graders do a biography unit and then a wax museum presentation. We are looking for fresh new people to learn about and share with others, but I am also excited about showing kids how to write more engaging stories of their lives versus a listing of facts. Both of these titles would be great for that.

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  33. I would love to have these resources to model from. As a new instructional coach I am trying to acquire new up to date material. These mentor texts would be perfect!

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  34. These all look amazing! I just put several of them on hold at my library. I would love to use The Case for Loving in my classroom to help students see how writers can make information super engaging.

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  35. I am a new teacher to 3rd grade and we are about to begin a unit on informational writing. How fortunate that you posted these suggestions at this time. Many of the books sound as if they would be wonderful mentor texts and read aloud. Thank you.

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  36. Those books are very interesting! I immediately thought that Child Convicts by Net Brennan (Candlewick Press) would be a perfect companion to the Gates Project about Children’s Bills of Rights. I am a middle school teacher, so some of these may be geared a little too young for my students. However, I have two young kids at home that would LOVE any of these books!!!

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  37. What a great post. I love all the title recommendations, of course, but especially love your suggestions for use with these mentor texts.
    They all look great, but I’d especially love either Poet or Swan.

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  38. Very interesting titles. I enjoy this post b/c I learn of so many fantastic books to use for writing instruction. I teach 2nd grade A good book is always a great hook to any lesson!

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  39. Thank you for this post! I am very interested in supporting information writing in my 4th grade. I would be most interested in The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, because we do an extensive unit on Plymouth & Jamestown, but any of the books would be great!

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  40. Honestly, I would use each and every one of these, but am super interested in using Child Convicts! What an unusual book! Of course, the Fab Four Friends, The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower caught my eye!

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    • Thanks for the great article. All of these books have wonderful possibilities,but I have been looking for compare and contrast books, and Aaron and Alexander would be great to include.

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  41. I’m very interested in “The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune,” as it would fit in very well with our unit on the Mayflower in our 3rd grade class! Honestly, any of these sound like spectacular books. Thanks for such a great post!

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  42. So many books, so little time! Nonfiction always works well with English Language Learners because it is connected to the real world which they are trying to learn about in a new language. Would love any of these: the Poet, Swan, the Zoo bio or the inventor of the Ferris Wheel. Thanks for previewing these books for all of us!

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  43. I would love either Child Convicts or The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune. All texts seem like great mentors, but these two really seem like they would flow well in an integrated classroom. I love reading about the new books being used!

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  44. I love following this blog and passing along mentor text suggestions to the teachers with whom I work. We’d love any of these titles, but I’m very interested in the Beatles and poet bios – having our kids research and write informational text about historical figures is an important part of our study of history.

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  45. Wow these are all such great titles. We are really working hard on using mentor text with teachers in our district this year! Would love any of them!

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  46. LOVE this list of books! The variety of topics is wonderful but I especially love the ideas for use as mentor texts. It’s a great way to reinforce the idea that books can serve multiple purposes. It’s not about breadth, it’s about depth!

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  47. I am a sucker for a list of books! I have been sharing lots of lists of mentor texts with teachers in my school. I especially love to incorporate social studies throughout the day so I will be looking for Aaron & Alexander and The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower!

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  48. Thanks so much for the wonderful list of titles. There seems to be something there for students of all ages. We are always looking for new mentor texts! Since informational reading and writing units are done at all grade levels, these will be very helpful. I’ve included them on my list of must haves! I can’t wait to read “Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo” as well as “The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris!”

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  49. Thanks so much for the wonderful list of titles. There seems to be something there for students of all ages. We are always looking for new mentor texts! Since informational reading and writing units are done at all grade levels, these will be very helpful. I’ve included them on my list of must haves! I can’t wait to read “Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo” as well as “The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris!”

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  50. These look like some fabulous new titles. I am going to the library today to see if I can check any of them out. Thanks for the tips, as always.

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  51. I would love to have any of these books, particularly those meant for early learners, as I teach first grade. I will share with my colleagues!

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  52. Thanks for putting together this great list!. With informational reading and writing units playing such a big part in all of our teaching, these books are great additions to our lists of books.

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  53. I love posts like this because I always see some books I know and use (reassuring me I am on the right track) and discover some knew ones (keeping me fresh and on my toes). Thanks for this post. I am looking forward to the book. I teach 6th graders and they love when I read aloud a picture book as a mentor text. IN fact, if I only read part of a picture book to illustrate a point, they beg for the rest. This is not a ploy to get out of work, they really want to hear the whole thing. We are just finishing a Model UN unit and will soon embark on book clubs on a theme of the Human Rights of the Child. I think Child Convicts will outrage them and rouse their passions, getting them excited for the unit.

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  54. I would love a copy of Fab Four Friends! My husband is a musician and a huge Beatles fan…we even decorated our nursery with Beatles lyrics. I am always talking to the students about my husband being a singer so it would be great to connect this book with those discussions!

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  55. Thank you very much for your excellent compilation of texts. As a new member of your blog, I am blown away by your dedication, insight and generosity to the education community. You are a role model to the community.

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  56. This is a great resource! In the beginning of this year I was using mentor text to introduce new literary concepts to my 6th grade students. I got distracted with the hustle and bustle of other curriculum and lost sight of the importance of mentor texts. This is a great reminder of the need to include them in my daily plans, even for 6th grade. I would be happy to receive any of the books mentioned, but Child Convicts looks very engaging for my age group.

    Alethea

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  57. Thank you for sharing these wonderful titles, I have already added them to my Amazon wish list! I am obsessed with Alexander Hamilton right now, I can’t wait to read the book to my students, and use as a mentor text!

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  58. These all look wonderful. I really found the Diving Into Information Writing Blog series very helpful. I am so glad that I found this blog!!!

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  59. Wow Stacey- what a great and varied list of books that look amazing. ALL are new to me and I’m excited to track them down (or maybe, hopefully, win one!). This post reminds me that I’m really looking forward to your book on mentor texts. Hope I will see an announcement about it soon! Thanks for sharing so many good titles and idea for the classroom.

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  60. Just when I thought my Amazon Carr couldn’t hold any more book, you provide not only a list of amazing mentor texts, but incredible ideas for how to use them with students! Thank you for that! I would love to add Book Itch to my collection of Civil Rights books. I usually use that collection to help students really analyze informational nonfiction compared to historical fiction. The story of Lewis Michaux (Jr./Sr.) seems unlike any others I already own!

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  61. What a wealth of informational resources! I am not familiar with any of these texts, and am so thankful for the thorough synopsis and recommendation for each. As a literacy coach, I work with K-5 and can see so many posibilities for sharing each of these titles to teach the varied text features while fostering a love for books and learning. Thank you.

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  62. This is a great new list! I can’t wait to hit up my library with it. We are launching our Weight of Acceptance unit and use picture books to study characterization and how authors integrate narrative elements into informational writing. The students also adapt their piece into a narrative poem at the end of the unit. It sounds like The Fantastic Ferris Wheel and Swan would be so fantastic texts to study! Thank you!

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  63. PreK-4th graders at UCS take part in an integrated arts program school wide. We are always looking for mentor text that do triple duty! The Fab Four, Swan, Ferris Wheel, Book Itch and Poet look like titles that support the Arts. Our Unified Arts teachers design enrichment lessons following an annual school wide theme. this year it is “Connections All Around” perfect fit for several of these books!

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  64. Love all your book recommendations! I am especially thrilled that you shared two from the time periods we are studying in 4th grade! Can’t wait to use Aaron and Alexander with our American Revolution writing and The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower as we study Colonial America in prep for our American Revolution studies.

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  65. Thanks for showcasing new and exciting informational books. Always on the hunt for new mentor texts for my 4th graders. They would respond to the Fantastic Ferris Wheel and Fur, Fins, and Feathers. We spend a lot of time talking about topic choice and researching inventions/how things came to be. Great list, lots of possibilities! Thanks again.

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  66. I am not familiar with any of these titles. Thanks for the thorough description of each. I am trying to use more picture books as mentor texts this year. With Global Read Aloud, I haven’t been reading picture books as much. I need to get back to my goal of one a week.

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  67. My 52 5th graders are embarking on an informational text writing unit in which they can choose their subject and have editor’s choice as to the format and text features they wish to incorporate. The wealth of rich and diverse titles in this pack would provide them with content beyond my classroom library…especially the book, Child Convicts, The Case for Loving and The Book Itch. Thanks for making this information available!

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  68. Many of these titles are new to me. The Fantastic Ferris Wheel or Child Convicts would be grabbed up by my readers instantly. A great post. I will be trying many of these ideas.

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  69. My 4th graders are going to use pb biographies as a way to study character traits. I’ve read and loved, but do not own, Poet or The Fantastic Ferris Wheel. All are great titles.
    Thanks for the post. I love reading ways to use mentor texts in my teaching!

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  70. I don’t need to win…but I want to know when your book is coming out, Stacey! It should be soon, right? I want to start gathering books that go with your yours. 🙂

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  71. This an interesting list of informational books. Our informational unit this is our school wide goal beginning in January. Many teachers in our school would enjoy these books to use during their unit. Fur, Fins and Feathers would be a book that could be used across several grade levels.

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  72. Fingers crossed that I get picked!!
    But I already feel like a winner because of all the great info you shared about all these great info mentor texts!!! Thanks.

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  73. I am getting ready to teach an informational unit in January. I would love one of these books! The Case for Loving would be very relevant for my class, as I have a student with interracial parents. The Fantastic Ferris Wheel would be another great mentor text. Not only could I use it for writing, but I could use it to launch Genius Hour!

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  74. Very excited to try Aaron and Alexander in my classroom to teach compare and contrast writing. I also can’t wait to read Fur, Fins, and Feathers to read and share how the author incorporates punctuation to elaborate. The whole list is full of exciting ideas.

    Amy Locarno
    Williamstown Elementary School
    100 Brush Hill Road
    Williamstown, VT 05679

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  75. Book Giveaway – Thank you for the opportunity to share these books with my sixth graders. Pictures books are so valuable in teaching so many genres and writing techniques. What wonderful examples of mentoring text. Thank for again for the opportunity.

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  76. This is an extraordinary compilation of titles on fascinating, engaging topics! Such mentor texts make the teaching of informational writing exciting for the teacher – Step One in making the learning exciting for students.

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