Mentor Text Link Up & Currently

I'm super excited that Stacia and Amanda at Collaboration Cuties are starting this linky. I ♥♥♥ BOOKS and there are always new books to find and new ways to use "old" books! 

I'm going to start with one of my all time favorite authors, Cynthia Rylant. She is an amazing author and you will always find her books used in writing lessons as mentor text. I have a basket of books dedicated to her in my library. As you can see, I have a pretty nice collection!

I want to share three books in particular first. When I was Young in the Mountains, Christmas in the Country, and Alligator Boy. These books are a little extra special because they are illustrated by Diane Goode, my cousin. I had never met Diane until a few years back. I had corresponded with her early in my teaching career. When my sister and I attended NCTE in New York City a few years back, Diane was promoting a book there. We contacted her and were able to have lunch together.  It was really wonderful. ( I had her sign my copy of When I was Young in the Mountains.) 

Diane is seated in the blue shirt, my sister next to her to the left. Back row is my cousin, me, and another cousin we met on that trip for the first time.

Diane told us that her and Cynthia have worked together for over 20 years, but have never met! Isn't that incredible? I love telling my students that authors and illustrators don't usually work together.  She also told us that Cynthia rarely revises her work. To think that she writes these beautiful stories on the first try! Diane told us that her and Margie Palatini (another favorite author) are best pals! HOW COOL!! This was a very memorable trip! We still keep in touch via Facebook. Follow her here if you are a fan of her work!

When I Was Young in the Mountains, Christmas in the Country, and The Relatives Came are three of my tried and true books for teaching connections in both reading and writing.  I use all of these books in our study of writing memoir. The kids can relate and talk about when they were young or a time they may have visited relatives or the traditions of a special holiday. I do tell the kids that all of these stories are Rylant's own memoirs. Teaching them to write from their own experiences,  just like real authors do, is what authentic writing is all about. It is very rare that I give them a topic or prompt. I believe their best writing comes from what they know. I might give them an organizer to staple in their notebooks like this one from my memoir pack. I don't usually give any kind of form they HAVE to follow when writing. 

In this pack, I reference the books Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, When I Was Young in the Mountains, and Patricia Polacco stories. (She has SO many that are great memoir examples.)
The kids really enjoy sharing their own stories about themselves and their memories. I usually share right along with them from my writer's notebook. I think it's very important for the teacher to write and share along with the class. Do you keep a writer's notebook? 

Here are some great mentor texts I use when teaching connections and memoir:

Next I'm linking up with Farley for the monthly Currently. Here it is:

Ok the slime husband is our in school Tony Robbins (just not as rich). He is in charge of getting the kids pumped and motivated to play First in Math, an internet based math program. WELL, this quarter's winners got to choose a willing teacher to get slimed....3 kids picked me!! I'll post pics when it happens next week. 

My newest rescue puppy has been very sick. My hubby has actually been sleeping on the couch with him for over a month. He is finally on the road to recovery!!

Summer...enough said!

Report cards...procrastinating...enough said!

Be Yourself!! I know it's very "cliche", but it's what I believe. I am always myself. If you met me you would be meeting the person that I always am! I don't put on airs. I don't act one way at school and one way at home. What you see is what you get! I don't like when people are fake! It's one of my pet peeves!

So, that is it for today! If you are reading this you made it to the end. Thank you! The first 5 people to leave a comment will get my Memoir Pack! Leave me your email too!! 


  1. Ohh I share your love of children's books! I only have a couple of Cynthia Rylant's books - but you've convinced me to go out and buy some more! That is so cool about your cousin the illustrator - I can't believe they've never met! :O

    I would LOVE a copy of the packet! Thanks for sharing :)

    Joy in the Journey

  2. I have been procrastinating on report cards too! I just put that in my Currently!

    I'm also soooo ready for summer! :)


  3. What a neat family connection! I haven't heard of Alligator Boy, I will definitely have to pick that up! So happy to hear that your rescue pup is getting better.

  4. Ahhh beach sand! Your blog name makes me smile! I love it! You're a brave and fun teacher playing along with the slime thing! Thanks for sharing your author/illustrator story with us. Your pack looks wonderful! Memoirs is something we have not done much with this year and I would love to have it!

    Creative Lesson Cafe

  5. I love Cynthia Rylant! And I would love your memoir pack! :) :)

    Jivey -

    ideas by jivey

  6. Oh, I love Cynthia Rylant, I have When I was Young in the Mountains and The Relatives Came that I have used. Patricia Polacco is my all time favorite. I have almost all of her books. I love using My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother because so many kids can relate to that!

    I absolutely love Wilfird Gordon McDonald Partridge and I use it every year in my writer's workshop launch!

    How exciting that your cousin is the illustrator!!! So fun! What a neat experience to get to share with your students!!

    Thank you so much for linking up!! I can't wait to hear more from you!
    Collaboration Cuties

    1. Oh, and I see you have An Angel for Solomon! Another great book!!

  7. Sadly I don't know of most of these books!!! Sometimes I think I live under a rock lol thanks for sharing. I'm pinning :)
    Third Grade Tidbits

  8. I love all of your mentor texts!! That is so neat that Diane Goode is your cousin. I love her illustrations! I also love Donald Crews and his two books that help teach memoirs, Bigmama's and Shortcut.

    Pencils, Books, and Dirty Looks

  9. Wow!! What an amazing story about your cousin!! =) That's the coolest!! I, too am under a rock. I love this linky. I'm learning about so many awesome books that I never knew about. Love your advice too!!
    Sister Teachers

  10. Firstly, I too love Cynthia Rylant! Just got one of hers I did not have after visiting the Writing Fix website--Tulip Sees America. Secondly, I am heading over to your store now to check out your memoir pack. I think this is something I can do with my second graders. I love the class book idea...

    Thanks for sharing!

    All the best--
    Sarah M. @ Hoots N' Hollers

  11. Wow...great post!! I love your taste in books...many of those are my favorites too!! I just love "When the Relatives Came." It stokes up such great personal connections for me. I will be emailing you about my upcoming 100 follower giveaway!! Thanks for offering to participate!

    Kathy O.
    Third Grade Doodles


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