2 gems

These two books are complete and total gems for all writing workshop teachers. Trust me, you’ll want to add them to your collection to help you teach narrative and informative writing as well as poetry. If you know me, you know I’m not usually insistent on using certain books for writing workshop. I believe you should find the books you love. However, if you’re looking for some mentor texts, these are two I think will go the long haul.

(I feel like we need a drum roll…)

Kelly DiPucchio and Bob Shea, Dial Books, a
division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2011
Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio and Bob Shea has been a favorite of mine for several months. It’s a favorite of Sam’s as well. I think we read it every single day in the month of July. All this re-reading made me realize what a goldmine it is to teach narrative structure at many different grade levels. In fact, I can see myself bringing this into a middle school classroom.
Almost everything I want to teach about narrative, I can teach using this text. For example, I could teach:
  • Tension
  • Internal conflict
  • External conflict
  • Structure
  • Unexpected endings
  • Action
  • Character motivation/want
  • Strong hook
  • Setting
  • Plot development
  • Emotion
I’m also a huge fan of Bob Shea’s work. For primary grades, this text is a rich source of illustration lessons:
  • Text placement
  • Zoom in
  • Zoom out
  • Setting details
  • Character details
  • Color
  • White space
  • Emotion
  • Movement
  • Thinking
  • Noise

THEM HOME by Marilyn Singer
and Ed Young, Chronicle Books, 2012. Click
on the image for more information about the author.

A Strange Pace to Call Home by Marilyn Singer and Ed Young is a treasure from cover to cover. First, let’s start with the title and subtitle. There is so much to learn about titling an informative project. Inside, you will find an introduction, “Risky Places,” to orient you to the book. Then there is a collection of fourteen poems, focusing on animals that survive even in the worse places on the planet. The back of the book offers a guide to forms of poetry, identifies different poetic forms used in the collection, and gives more information about each of the animals.

What makes me so excited to use this book in writing workshop? I love how there are different forms of informative writing. There is an introduction that would be worthy of using during a feature article study, poetry, and more information written in prose about each animal. The information at the back of the book could be used in feature articles, essays, posters, brochures, or summaries studies. I love how research is used as the backbone for this text. I love the way you can go deeper into a study of poetry. I’m positive I could find hundreds of minilessons in this book for informative writing and poetry.

How about you? What are some new favorite mentor texts you’re planning to use in writing workshop this year?

Join Jen & Kellee for the Monday meme
by clicking on the image.

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  1. I've ordered the Singer book, but don't know the other one Ruth. Thank you! A favorite 'new' thing I've been doing with a new teacher is to use writing letters as a segue into capturing story. I've been collecting different books that use letters, & found some great ones, like Sarah Stewart's & David Small's The Gardener and Dear Mrs. Rossi, as well as the older Dear Mr. Henshaw. There is another new one that I've started too titled Regarding The Fountain. Fun to look for these. Thanks for your new ideas!

  2. I love Marilyn Singer's books! This is one I will need to find. Thanks for the recommendations, I will be looking for both of them.