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

Nonfiction Picture Books about Virginia History as Writing Mentor Texts

We all know that students need to become more comfortable reading and writing non-fiction. Last fall, I did a post on 10 of my favorite fiction picture book writing mentor texts. For this post, I’m focusing on some non-fiction mentor texts–with a bent toward history, specifically American history, as it relates to Virginia history.

Why? I teach 4th grade in Virginia. And while I’m not the person on my team who teaches Virginia history, I think it’s really important for me to know as much of it as I can. My daughter is also studying Virginia history this year, so she and I have been taking trips and reading a lot about Virginia history.

If you don’t live in Virginia, must our U.S. History has roots in Virginia, so much of this will apply to U.S. History as well. And remember, my focus here is using these non-fiction texts to teach WRITING. It’s a bonus that it will also piggyback on the history standards. It’s what I call “double-dipping.” Teaching the content you need to teach while also exposing students to stellar texts that can be used as models for good writing.

For more information about definitions of the different writing skills I cover here, refer to the Glossary of Mentor Text Terms.

worst of friends

 

WORST OF FRIENDS:

THOMAS JEFFERSON, JOHN ADAMS, AND THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN FEUD

by Suzanne Tripp Jermain

Illustrated by Larry Day

Dutton, 2011

 

Writing Skills:

* Figurative Language

* Sentence Variety

* Specificity

* Adjectives

* Tone


Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

THOMAS JEFFERSON BUILDS A LIBRARY

By Barb Rosenstock

Illustrated by John O’Brien

Calkins Creek, 2013

 

Writing Skills:

* Organization of the text

* Specificity of language

* Rhythm

* Sentence Variety

 


John paul george ben

JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN

By Lane Smith

Hyperion, 2006

Writing Skills:

* Tone

* Voice

* Character descriptions

* Fact vs. Fiction

 


George did it

 

 

GEORGE DID IT

By Suzanne Tripp Jurmain

Illustrated by Larry Day

Dutton, 2006

Writing Skills:

* Figurative Language (Similes)

* Sensory Words

* Adjectives

* Use of a refrain


TJ life liberty pursuit of everyting

THOMAS JEFFERSON: LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF EVERYTHING

by Maira Kalman

Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, 2014

Writing Skills

* Voice

* Tone

* Organization of the text

* Specificity


revolutionary friends

 REVOLUTIONARY FRIENDS: GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE

by Selene Castrovilla

illustrated by Drazen Kozjan

Calkins Creek, 2013

Writing Skills

* Tone

* Sensory Words

* Adjectives

* Imagery

* Specificity

 

 

Other Mentor Text Resources:

Mentor Text Resource Page

Mentor Text Spreadsheet

Picture Book Month Archive (30 Posts using Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts)

10 for 10: Favorite Pictures Books for Teaching Word Choice


 

What are your favorite picture books for teaching Virginia or US History? Leave me a note in the comments below.

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 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 20: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts Featuring NIGHT OF THE GARGOYLES

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night of the gargoyles

 

NIGHT OF THE GARGOYLES

By Eve Bunting

Illustrated by David Wiesner

Clarion, 1994

Summary:

Follow the gargoyles at night, when they come alive, scaring humans and being set free from their stone perches.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Sensory words

* Vivid Verbs

* Word Choice

* Specificity

* Tone/Mood


 

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 18: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts Featuring CREAKY OLD HOUSE

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creaky old house

CREAKY OLD HOUSE: A TOPSY-TURVY TALE OF A REAL FIXER UPPER

by Linda Ashman

Illustrated by Michael Chesworth

Sterling, 2009

Summary:

Nine people and a dog live in the creaky old house which needs a little work. When the doorknob needs to be replaced it sends the family on a never-ending renovation project, until they decide the house is perfect like it is (after the baby fixes the doorknob).

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Voice

* Tone

* Specificity

* Word Choice

Revision

After I’d written and scheduled, this post, Linda Ashman was featured on Julie Hedlund’s blog. On the guest post, she shows readers earlier drafts of CREAKY OLD HOUSE and talks about her revision process. I highly recommend showing students the varying stages of her revision and the final copy (the finished book).


 

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 10: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts Featuring A PIG PARADE IS A TERRIBLE IDEA

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pig parade is a terrible idea

A PIG PARADE IS A TERRIBLE IDEA

by Michael Ian Black

Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Simon & Schuster, 2010

Summary:

This humorous text uses the power of hilarious persuasion to convince the reader that a pig parade is a terrible idea.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Specificity

* Vivid Verbs

* Tone

* Persuasive Text


 

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 Day 5: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts Featuring THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

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day the crayons quit

THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

By Drew Daywalt

Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Philomel/Penguin, 2013

Summary:

Each crayon in the box writes a note to Duncan complaining about being used too much or too little. Duncan has to think of a clever way to keep them all happy.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Voice

* Point of View

* Tone


 

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 3: Picture Books as Writing Mentor Texts Featuring ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT

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Arnie

 

ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT

by Laurie Keller

Henry Holt, 2003

 

Summary:

Arnie the doughnut doesn’t realize that doughnuts are for eating. Told from Arnie’s point of view, we follow Arnie on his adventure to not be eaten.

Mentor Text Writing Skills:

* Specificity of language

* Point of View

* Dialogue

* Tone

* Voice

 


 

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