Workshop Wednesday: Mentor Text

I'm linking up today with Jivey for Workshop Wednesday. She is showcasing mentor texts to teach author's craft. I ♥ this topic!

Now what book to showcase? There are so many wonderful uses for picture books as mentor texts that it's hard for me to choose. I finally settled on one of my favorites (their all my favorites!), The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown.

I love the vintage feel of this book. The artwork goes from color pictures on one page to black and white illustrations on the next. There is so much you can do with this classic. I always read if for pleasure first, then we come back to it later and examine the author's craft.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

Over the years, I have used this book for many concepts. It's great for a Mother's Day or Father's Day project. Choose a topic from science or social studies or student's can choose their own expert topics to write about. Thinking about the DETAILS of a subject/person is what this lesson is all about. Students have to really zoom in on their subject and get specific! Hard to do sometimes! This is a great time to pull out the thesauri or thesauruses (yes I looked up the plural forms, both are correct! LOL!) 

In my class, we always write a whole group sample first. I usually choose a topic like candy, since most every student has eaten it. (I have even given them a piece of candy to examine and eat while we write.)  They can't tell me "it's good" or "I like it", which is exactly what they try at first. They need to come up with descriptors for the candy: sweet, sour, tickles my taste buds, chewy, sticky, square, etc. We look at the book again, this time for author's craft and style. I ask the kids to tell me what they notice (first and last lines repeat, she doesn't always use periods after every idea, she writes in a list, use of commas, etc.) We write a final draft together about candy trying out different crafts we noticed.

When it's their turn, I ask the students to write a topic in their writer's notebook that they feel they know a lot about and brainstorm everything they can think of to describe it (thinking of 5 senses, adjectives, verbs, etc.). We look at the book again and I let them decide how they will write their piece.  I don't like to give them a preprinted form for this activity because for some kids they won't try different styles or put their own twist on it. I like choice! For your really good writers, they might feel restricted if they have to write in a specific format given by the teacher. (Again, it's about choice!) Once these are revised and edited, you can publish in a class book or create a gift for a parent/relative.

There are a multitude of uses for this book! If you have used it or can think of a topic you would use it with, please leave a comment. I love to hear new ideas!


  1. Love The Important Book!! It can be used for so much! :)

  2. What a great way to focus in on details and small moments! That is great that you don't put your students in a box by giving them a form to write. It is amazing what they can accomplish when we step out of their way. :)
    Conversations in Literacy

  3. I love The Important Book! Such a great book!! I've used it several times!

    A teacher that I worked with closely at my old school gave it to me when I transferred (such a hard decision) and wrote an inscription in it about me using that format. Talk about touching!!

    Thanks for the ideas!
    Collaboration Cuties


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