NF10for10 2016: Nonfiction Books as Mentor Texts for Writing

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This is the first time I’m doing a 10 for 10 post as a librarian instead of a classroom teacher. There are a few differences in this: 1) I’m in a position now where people are asking for book recommendations on a daily basis, and 2) I am in a position where I’m reading the same book multiple times. If I choose to read a book to third grade, it has to be a book I love enough to read aloud and hook them and absorb ME for seven readings.

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The books that I chose for this year’s list are books are all nonfiction that completely absorbed me. They are delightful as read alouds and they are stellar examples of nonfiction writing.

For each book, I’ve highlighted writing craft that I particularly like.

Most of these books are strong in specific word choice, which I refer to as “specificity.” For me, this means that the author uses domain-specific language. One of the treasures of these books is that none of these books use the words like vocabulary words, but they use words that true to the world they are writing about.

I'm trying to love spiders

I’m Trying to Love Spiders

Written and Illustrated by Bethany Barton

Viking, 2015

* Voice

* Specificity in word choice

* Tone

the spider

The Spider

Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel

Tundra Books, 2015

* Voice

* Specificity

* Tone

I also recommend reading both of these spider books and having a discussion about how two authors chose to write about the same topic.

finding winnie

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

By Lindsay Mattock

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Little, Brown, 2015

* Word choice

* Dual Narrative

* Lyrical language

I also read this book alongside Winnie by Sally M. Walker. Students discussed how two authors took the same topic and wrote about it. They especially noted how they started the stories in different places.

how to swallow a pig

How to Swallow a Pig: Step by Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom

By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Houghton Mifflin, 2015

* Point of view

* Organization (How-To Text)

* Alliteration

* World Play

* Specificity in word choice

tiny creatures

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

By Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Emily Sutton

Candlewick, 2014

* Specificity in word choice

* Imagery

* Sentence variety

leaflets three let it be

Leaflets Three, Let it Be! The Story of Poison Ivy

By Anita Sanchez

Illustrated by Robin Brickman

Boyds Mills Press, 2014

* Vivid Verbs

* Specificity in word choice

* Adjectives

swan

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova

By Laurel Snyder

Illustrated by Julie Morstad

Chronicle, 2015

* Lyrical language

* Alliteration

* Vivid Verbs

* Rhythm

water is water

Water is Water: A Book about the Water Cycle

By Miranda Paul

Illustrated by Jason Chin

Neil Porter: Roaring Brook, 2015

* Vivid verbs

* Word Play

* Specificity in word choice

* Rhythm

mesmerized

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France

By Mara Rockliff

Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

Candlewick, 2015

* Specificity in word choice

* Vivid Verbs

* Voice

* Tone

trombone shorty

Trombone Shorty

By Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews

Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015

* Voice

* Specificity in word choice

* Refrain (repetition)

* Personal narrative

The 10for10 posts are happening all over the web today. Click here to join the Google+ Community where post links are being shared. 

Previous 10for10 Posts

Poetic Nonfiction Picture Books

Fiction Picture Books for Word Choice

Nonfiction Picture Books about Virginia History

Poetry Mentor Texts: Snoozefest by Samantha Berger

snoozefest

Snoozefest

By Samantha Berger

Illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Dial, 2015

Snoozefest is a delight! Berger had me at the title: Snoozefest! I think the thing that delighted me (and would delight younger readers) is the word combinations. Snoozefest, Nuzzledome, naptacular, even the character’s name, Snuggleford Cuddlebun, play with sleepy language. There are also fun words in the illustrations. Snuggleford is a sloth who attends a sleeping contest, or Snoozefest, and it’s quite a celebration of sleep. This book is full of sleepy, snoozy language. The rhythm and rhyme makes it fun to read.

This book would be good a mentor text for:

* Word Play (especially puns)

* Alliteration

* Descriptive language

I’d highly recommend listening to Matthew Winner’s podcast episode with Samantha Berger, where she gives lots of inside scoop on Snoozefest and her process.

Other Poetry Month Posts

Some Bugs

Raindrops Roll

A Rock Can Be…

Writing Wednesday: Using HERE COME THE HUMPBACKS as a Writing Mentor Text

here come the humpbacks

HERE COME THE HUMPBACKS

By April Pulley Sayre

Illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Charlesbridge, 2013

 

This nonfiction book about humpback whales combines lyrical first lines on each page, with narrative facts and separate factoids on each page. Beautifully written and chock-full of information that will delight animal lovers, it can also be used as a non-fiction writing mentor text.

 

Writing Skills:

* Vivid Verbs

* Alliteration

* Figurative Language

* Specificity

* Organization of the text

* Onomatopoeia

* Poetic language in a nonfiction text

Mentor Text Spreadsheet: Picture Book Month in Review

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Collage of all books

 

Picture Book Month is officially over. But I have created one last thing to share with you on mentor texts. Each day, I shared a mentor text post with you featuring different ways that each of these books could be used to teach writing skills to young writers.

Picture Book Month Mentor Text Posts

I’m now introducing a spreadsheet that summarizes all of the texts I referenced in November. The spreadsheet includes a list of all of the texts, links to their posts, and the skills for each text. Then I broke the spreadsheet workbook into various pages–one page for EACH skill. So if you are looking for all of the books that teach Onomatopoeia that I mentioned in November, then you can access them all on one page. This is the list of skills that have their own pages:

* Adjectives

* Alliteration

* Description

* Figurative Language

* Imagery

* Onomatopoeia

* Organization

* Personal Narrative

* Persuasive Texts

* Point of View

* Sensory Words

* Sentence Variety

* Specificity

* Tone/Mood

* Voice

* Vivid Verbs

* Word Choice

* Word Play

Because there are so many different skills, you can’t see them all at once. You might see this button on the bottom right hand side of the spreadsheet.

Arrow Screenshot for spreadsheet

Use the arrows to scroll right and left to access all of the pages. They are listed from left to right in alphabetical order.

Mentor Text Spreadsheet 

Picture Book Month Day 30: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts featuring A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS

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a troop is a group of monkeys

A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS

by Julie Hedlund

Illustrated by Pamela Baron

Summary:

This app is now a print book that includes collective nouns that describe animals.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Specificity

* Vivid Verbs

* Adjectives

* Alliteration

* Word Choice

A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS is also featured as an app.  A SHIVER OF SHARKS, another book in the same series, is also featured as an app.


12-x-12-new-badge

Interested in writing picture books?? Julie Hedlund, author of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, is the mother of 12×12 picture book challenge.  Check out her website for more details.

I’m also very excited to watch Julie’s hybrid publishing venture of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. It’s a crowdfunded picture book that already has an illustrator and a publisher. I’ve backed it on Kickstarter because I want to support her on this venture (and because I want this book for my kids). If you are interested, check out her Kickstarter campaign page. 


 

For more information about mentor texts, check out these links:

Mentor Text Resources

Mentor Text Lesson Plans

Mentor Text Tips

Glossary of Mentor Text Terms

List of all Picture Book Month Posts

Picture Book Month Day 29: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts featuring MONSTORE

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monstore

MONSTORE

by Tara Lazar

Illustrated by James Burks

Aladdin, 2013

Summary:

Zack needs a monster to keep his sister away from his room, but every monster he buys doesn’t work, and buying more monsters doesn’t work either. He has to find a solution to his monstrosity of a problem.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Tone

* Alliteration

* Word Play

* Vivid Verbs


piboidmo2013-participant-214x131

Interested in writing picture books?? Tara Lazar, author of MONSTORE, is the mother of PiBoIdMo. Check out her website for more details.


 

For more information about mentor texts, check out these links:

Mentor Text Resources

Mentor Text Lesson Plans

Mentor Text Tips

Glossary of Mentor Text Terms

List of all Picture Book Month Posts

Picture Book Month Day #28: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts featuring GIANT DANCE PARTY

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giant dance party

 

GIANT DANCE PARTY

by Betsy Bird

Illustrated by Brandon Dorman

Greenwillow, 2013

Summary:

Lexy loves to dance, but when she gets up on stage, she freezes. When she offers to help others with their dancing skills, she doesn’t anticipate that giants will sign up to dance.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Figurative Language

* Vivid Verbs

* Alliteration

* Specificity

 


 

For more information about mentor texts, check out these links:

Mentor Text Resources

Mentor Text Lesson Plans

Mentor Text Tips

Glossary of Mentor Text Terms

List of all Picture Book Month Posts

Picture Book Month Day #27: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts featuring GHOST IN THE HOUSE

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ghost in the house

 

GHOST IN THE HOUSE

by Ammi-Joan Paquette

Illustrated by Adam Record

Candlewick, 2013

Summary:

When a ghost, a mummy, a skeleton, and a witch all go sneaking through the house, they are most startled by a little human boy.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Adjectives

* Onomatopoeia

* Vivid Verbs

* Alliteration

 


 

For more information about mentor texts, check out these links:

Mentor Text Resources

Mentor Text Lesson Plans

Mentor Text Tips

Glossary of Mentor Text Terms

List of all Picture Book Month Posts

Picture Book Month Day 4: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts Featuring I STINK!

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i stink

 

I STINK!

by Kate and Jim McMullan

Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins, 2002

Summary:

The garbage truck speaks in this picture book, telling the reader of his nighttime adventures moving trash in the city.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Specificity of language

* Alliteration

* Voice

* Point of View

* Onomatopoeia


 

For more information about mentor texts, check out these links:

Mentor Text Resources

Mentor Text Lesson Plans

Mentor Text Tips

Glossary of Mentor Text Terms

List of all Picture Book Month Posts

Picture Book Month Day 2: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts Featuring A ZEAL OF ZEBRAS

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Zeal of Zebras

A ZEAL OF ZEBRAS: AN ALPHABET OF COLLECTIVE NOUNS

by Woop Studios

Chronicle Books, 2011

Summary:

This nonfiction text features a collective noun for every letter of the alphabet. A paragraph featuring interesting facts about each group of animals is also on each page.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Specificity of language

* Vivid Verbs

* Word Choice

* Alliteration

* Non-fiction text example

Other book pairings include:

A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS  a book app by Julie Hedlund

A SHIVER OF SHARKS a book app by Julie Hedlund

This text is also a Virginia Readers’ Choice Selection for 2013-14. 


 

For more information about mentor texts, check out these links:

Mentor Text Resources

Mentor Text Lesson Plans

Mentor Text Tips

Glossary of Mentor Text Terms

List of all Picture Book Month Posts