mentor texts

Micro Mentor Texts: A Review and Giveaway

Buckle up, because this review is going to be a rave. 

Penny Kittle’s new book, Micro Mentor Texts: Using Short Passages From Great Books to Teach Writer’s Craft, is a must read for teachers of writers of all ages. 

What I love most about this book is the core belief elevated by its structure: the way to get better at identifying and using mentor texts with writers is to read and write ourselves. To stop and marvel at the language all around us. To unpack what it is that makes a passage worthy of close study. To see what happens when we try those moves on in our own writing. 

This book is the absolute GIFT of thinking alongside Penny Kittle while she makes the thinking work necessary to choose and use mentor texts visible. This book is an invitation to become more masterful at these skills through the intentional strengthening of the reading and writing muscles required. 

Penny isn’t telling in this book; she is teaching. 

Each chapter has a craft focus: Igniting the Imagination with Sensory Details, Organizing Artfully: The Power of Three, Noticing What Dialogue Reveals, Capturing Movements in Time, etc. Within each chapter, Penny has broken down that craft element into between one and four Lessons, organized around a micro mentor text. These lessons are not just for students. These lessons are for the teacher-as-writer. 

This book is meant to be read with writer’s notebook open, pen moving. 

Each lesson is an opportunity to closely study multiple micro mentor texts, to practice noticing and naming what the writers are doing on purpose. Trying those moves on in our own writing is a chance to do exactly what it is that we are asking students to do in an inquiry-based writing workshop. How DOES it help us as writers to use mentor text in this way? What DID we learn as readers that we can apply in our writing work? These hip pocket questions we ask writers when we confer carry more weight when we have our own authentic experiences answering them. 

Kids are savvy. They know which of their writing teachers write and which ones don’t. 

In the Their Turn sections sprinkled across chapters, Penny includes strategies she uses to support her students in gathering micro mentor texts of their own. In Penny’s workshop, writers are not solely reliant on her as the teacher to identify mentor texts. There is power in students learning to recognize and share micro mentor texts with each other, and Penny has a thoughtful process for embedding this meaningful layer in her workshop. (You’ll need to read the book to find out what it is!) 

I can imagine a team of teachers engaging in an interactive book study with this text: reading, writing, teaching, reflecting. What better way could there be to calibrate understanding around what craft moves look and sound like? To dive deeply into the instructional moves that teachers of writers make when they apply these strategies in the workshop? Carving out an hour at regular intervals to invest in teachers’ collective capacity to choose and use micro mentor texts is a professional learning experience worth initiating! 

Because this sounds like an ideal way to read and apply the learning in this book, I played around with a sample agenda for a writing group. Please feel free to use it as a starting point for your own PL planning, if it is helpful. Following Penny’s lesson structure, this agenda offers a predictable routine teams might use to organize an hour, whether a team is meeting just a couple of times around selected lessons or whether the team is working their way through the entire book together. (My vote would be for option two!) 

An important note from someone who considers herself a first grade teacher to her core: Don’t be distracted by the level of the mentor text and the grade level you teach. A kindergarten teacher will find as much value in this book as a high school teacher. It’s about the thinking work, and once a teacher of writers internalizes that, this process can be applied to text at all levels, to craft studies with writers of all ages. Micro Mentor Texts is complex, compelling professional learning in book form, and its impact will only be magnified through vertical collaboration. 

A reader who finishes this book and thinks, “Gosh, this is so helpful! I hope she comes out with an elementary version next,” has completely missed the point. 

This book is a scaffold, but it is not a shortcut. (Because there is no shortcut.)

Micro Mentor Texts is an opportunity to think alongside an expert (and a community of fellow teacher writers) while working with intention to get better at choosing and using micro mentor texts ourselves. Hmm. . . that sounds familiar. Intentional parallel to what a workshop is, perhaps? It’s getting a little meta in here. 

Micro Mentor Texts is a gem of a book. Penny Kittle’s approach to teaching reading and writing workshop is so honoring of the professionals that teachers of writers are—in the same way that her classroom instruction is honoring of the curious, insightful humans that her students are.

This book will remind you how much that matters.

Giveaway Information

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Micro Mentor Texts: Using Short Passages From Great Books to Teach Writer’s Craft by Penny Kittle.
  • For a chance to win a copy of Micro Mentor Texts, please comment on this post by Noon EST on Wednesday, March 29. Amy Ellerman will use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name will be announced at the bottom of this post. You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter the giveaway.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so Amy can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.
  • If you are the book winner, Amy will email you the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – MICRO MENTOR TEXTS GIVEAWAY. Please respond to her 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.

137 thoughts on “Micro Mentor Texts: A Review and Giveaway

  1. I love this line from the review “A reader who finishes this book and thinks, “Gosh, this is so helpful! I hope she comes out with an elementary version next,” has completely missed the point.” I know Penny put the work into being sure that any teacher who wanted to engage children in writing would find this valuable!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Penny Kittle’s work. This book is bound to be AMAZING! I can’t wait to get a copy. Mentor texts are so important for students and teachers alike.


  3. Mentor texts are masterful models and once writers use them to support their writing, they actually can begin to see that type of exemplary language in their books when reading. I would love to have this book in my teaching toolbox.


  4. I would LOVE to have this book!! I have been teaching for 3 years and am currently giving reading/writing interventions at the high school level. I took a class at Morningside College for my reading endorsement where I learned about Penny Kittle. My teacher’s advice was to invest in Penny Kittle’s books! I would definitely use this resource in my work.


  5. Just when was beginning to despair up pops the blog post. My kids who were CoVID kids who missed a lot of basics can barely write a coherent sentence and Two Writing Teachers posts this and I have a life ring.


  6. As an educator for 39 years, I am always looking for ways to become a more effective teacher.This book sounds like a great resource that I would love to read. Thanks for the opportunity to win the book!


  7. Sounds like an amazing book and the kind that will help further my craft as a writer and teacher. Was just saying how I am developing my own writer’s identity.


  8. This sounds like a great book! I think it would weave beautifully in with the ideas presented by When Writers Read by Jane Hansen (an oldie but goodie) that posits that our reading feeds our writing which then feeds our reading.


  9. This sounds like not only a great read but also a great STAFF BOOK STUDY! I would love to read this beside my staff so that we can write like this alongside our students!


  10. Amy, I placed my response under WriterTammy’s comment. Here it is again: Yes, WriterTammy, EricaJ, and I were speaking last night on Zoom about Penny Kittle and her amazing contribution to the field. This book seems to be another stellar example of Penny’s commitment to writing and helping teachers improve their craft. Thanks, Amy for reviewing the book.


  11. I would love to have this book to make meaningful writing lessons with a mentor text in mind. I am trying to teach grammar and writing more in a reading context, and not isolated.


  12. “Penny isn’t telling in this book; she is teaching.” This is how I feel about her workshops, too; unlike so many others, she offers workshops in the way she is telling us to teach. They have transformed my teaching. Thank you for offering this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am so excited to hear about this book and that it is for writers of all ages – wow! Penny Kittle is amazing and I can’t wait to learn from her thoughts again plus share it with the teachers that I work with. Thank you for sharing this review!


  14. I love the concept of this book! We were just talking about Penny at our Slicer chat last night. I am so glad to see that Scholastic picked her up as a publisher! I have been using micro mentor texts for a while so to have a whole book of resources would be amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, WriterTammy, EricaJ, and I were speaking last night on Zoom about Penny Kittle and her amazing contribution to the field. This book seems to be another stellar example of Penny’s commitment to writing and helping teachers improve their craft. Thanks, Amy for reiviewing the book.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I already use mentor texts to teach writing skills, techniques, strategies, etc. with my 4th graders. I love the idea of the students being able to find excerpts out of their own books. It’s their own learning with their own ideas with their own mentor texts. It makes it more personalized learning. It also teaches them to read with a writer’s lens. Such a great idea!


  16. I’m intrigued. What a great idea! Of course, some writing teachers may have done this here and there. But having a book focused on this and organized so that each chapter centers on teaching a particular aspect of craft–this will be beneficial not just for writing teachers but for aspiring writers.


  17. Mentor texts are always a wonderful way to teach writing and Penny Kittle has always been a leader in thought-provoking ways to engage students in the craft of writing. Can’t wait to read!


  18. As an EC teacher, I am always looking for better ideas and this is the one. I have been trying to connect reading and writing for IEP goals and this text will bring it to life for my class. Glad you were able to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m so glad you mentioned that this book could be used by teachers of our youngest writers! I teach early childhood majors about writing and am helping them see the value of mentor texts for themselves and their future students. I can’t wait to read this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Penny Kittle is the absolute BEST!! This can be paired really well with Jeff Anderson and his use of short mentor texts to teach grammar. Combining them together would be incredible!! I’m my list to read for sure!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Penny Kittle’s thinking is always insightful and thought provoking. Just knowing that all writers from kindergarten through high school will be able to engage in these processes makes it perfect for every teacher of writers. I look forward to presenting this as a book study to my own writing group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really have enjoyed doing some of this mini-text writing with the 100 Days of Summer Writing. I truly miss that but saw so much potential that I use that strategy of small clips of text or pictures to spark my writers.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I’d love to dig into a copy of this. The idea of “thinking alongside an expert” makes me want to explore this myself and with colleagues. I especially love how you noted the power of this content working with writers from kindergarten to high school. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I was just meeting with two teachers earlier this week and we were talking about using short passages as mentor texts as they move into literary Essay. This book looks amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment. If you're leaving a permalink for the SOLSC, please be sure to include a brief statement to introduce your post, followed by the permalink. Please do not hit enter before the permalink.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.