Mentor Texts for the Beginning and the Long Haul
July 17, 2017
Every summer I find a back to school mentor text. Usually, this text is a uplifting mentor about mindset for learning. This year’s choices are no exception to that. It’s the right way to go for the first few days.
Being a teacher for a number of years, there are a lot of first days books in my library. This year, the hunt is different. Let’s make these books go the long haul. I want to return to them for meaning work, construction work, beginnings, endings, author’s moves, and theme. That’s a lot to ask of one book. However, the more familiar the story, the more meaningful it is as a mentor tool.
Many of you will already be familiar with The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do and by its author, Ashley Spires, author of the amazing, The Most Magnificent Thing, another well-used mentor text. Without reading, we can already do so much work on the cover,
right? Essential Questions, Predictions, Foreshadowing. This book doesn’t hold back, Lou knows she can do the thing. She avoids it. She negotiates with it. The best part is that (spoiler alert), it doesn’t all work out in the end. It has a perfect Carol Dweck moment. Read to find out. Ok, all well and good but what else. Taking just three ideas from Calkins UOS Reading 2nd Grade Authors Have Intentions, we can talk about theme. (this will work for any grade)
Here’s where my practice is shifting. I don’t have to have these questions answered to ask them. The students often have better, deeper, richer ideas. I think I know, but that’s not important.
I couldn’t wait for my next title to arrive, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Reviews were awesome and LOOK at that cover. So much to talk about after summer break!
But then there’s the first page, and we can talk about or details in the story or crafting an ending. We can use dialogue. I can use the preview of the book video to notice, and wonder with the class.
My last book is purposeful. I’m committed to add an Amy Krouse Rosenthal book to as many lists and as
many demonstrations as I can. This book isn’t new like my other two choices and honestly, I may have used it for back to school before. The video of The OK book will be how Literacy Bootcamp begins this year.
Because in the world of must be amazing, it’s ok to be ok while you’re figuring it out. Illustrations, simple repetitive text, a thoughtful ending. One great mentor.
Happy hunting for your mentors. Remember to make them go the distance.