5 for Friday: Mentor Text

My first Five for Friday of the new school year and I'm a day late!
I've been so busy this week settling into the routine of school that I neglected to take pictures of what we have been working on to share with you. So I thought I would give you a glimpse at the mentor texts that has been guiding our reading and writing lessons. We start the year learning about story elements in reading and in writing, the students are generating ideas and starting personal narratives. These are some books I can not live without at the start of the school year.

Saturdays and Tea Cakes by Lester Laminack is a sweet story about a boy who visits his grandmother every Saturday. They work in the yard together, eat lunch, and bake teacakes. For writing, this book is the perfect text for generating ideas. Use it as a springboard to discuss people and places that matter. Students write lists of people that matter and small moments with those people. Do the same with places, but students can sketch a map of the place marking where the stories took place. 

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is a story that I think I will use as long as I'm a teacher. There isn't a book that works more perfectly to open up the discussion of memories. Memories can make you laugh or cry. Memories can be warm or from long ago. Students keep a list of these in their notebooks to draw on when they need something to write about.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney is a true story of the author's Great-Aunt-Alice. She has dreams of seeing the world, but also of making the world a more beautiful place. Another book to open up a discussion of people in our lives that matter and just a wonderful story.

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is just so fun and simple. It's the story of a family who drives from Virginia to visit their relatives. They hug and eat and spend time together.

Use this story to introduce great leads, too. I love the start of this book. 

Amos &Boris by William Steig is a story I use to teach story elements. Characters, setting, plot, and theme and vocabulary can all be explicitly taught through this story. If I plan on using a picture book like this, or others listed here, I read the book one day as the class read aloud. We just enjoy the story. The following days I can refer back to the book to show characters or discuss lessons or themes. I always plan ahead to be sure I mark pages or passages I want to use. I have a class set of this book and students use sticky notes to mark text. They love this book!

(I had to add in a sixth book to my list of 5)

Nothing Ever Happens On 90th Street by Roni Schotter is PERFECT for introducing your writer's workshop. The story is about  Eva who is given an assignment to write in her notebook, but she is stuck for a story. As she meets up with different neighbors on her street, they give her suggestions of what she can write. One tells her to observe the details. One says to see the poetry in her writing. As we work on generating ideas in our notebooks,  I give a homework assignment to observe what is happening on their street. They title the page "Nothing Ever Happens on ____________". I encourage them to see if they can notice something on their own street they haven't before. They are always surprised that they DO find something they had noticed before.

Hope you found a new book here or maybe you were reminded of an old favorite! There is no better way to teach reading and writing then from the experts!


  1. I Love LOve LOVE Wilfred Gordon and The Relatives Came. I use them both to begin narratives as well. I like The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli too.
    Have a great week!
    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  2. Thank you for this post! I have all of these books except Amos and Boris. You have given me some wonderful ideas! yay!
    Thrills in Third Grade

  3. OMG! Thank you for this post! I have Nothing Ever Happens on 80th Street as a mentor text but I haven't used it yet. I'm so using this as one of my first lessons! Thank you for the idea!


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