Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reading to Fuel Writing

Reading About Writing

Food for the Soul, Fuel for the Journey

hLaura Benson d LBopenbook@aol.com a Blog laurabensonopenbook.blogspot.com a

“Children’s writing reflects the quality of the reading they do…Being an avid reader is the best preparation for becoming a writer.” Regie Routman, Writing Essentials

"It’s not what a piece of writing is about, but how it’s written, that makes good writing good.” Katie Wood Ray, Wondrous Words

“…I devour books and scour them for clues to technique, to language, to structure,

to anything that might help me learn to write.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Living to Tell the Tale

Drawing from reading wells to nourish our students’ writing, I read texts which take me inside the writer and crack open writing. These books mentor me and shape my thinking as a writer and as a writing teacher. Sometimes, I read these texts “just for me’ as I consider responsive ways to support students’ writing growth. Often, I read texts such as these to or with students. I lean on writers to help me know how to model and explain the infinite crafts of writing. Standing on the shoulder of giants, beloved authors, my students and I feel more confident and more knowing of how to take the silent and internal journeys we call writing. And the authors I turn to first are the children themselves.

Listening, reading, and reflecting upon students’ writing, I often find a co-teacher, an inspiration, a clarifier, a word artist. To be the teachers our students need, Harvard researcher Ron Ritchhart (2000) and writing guru Donald Graves (1997) advocate an essential teaching disposition; great teachers learn from their students. See your students’ names at the beginning of each of the following lists. Each child can do so much to illuminate whys and hows of writing for your entire writing community. And, yes, even students who are feeling arrested, bored, or just hate writing can be a valuable co-teacher. It’s amazing what happens to a young or tangled writer when they take the role of mentor.

Ultimately, all of my work is about relationships. My efforts are, in the end, about helping students have healthy relationships – with one another, with their family and friends, with me, and, most importantly, with themselves. Toward that goal, relationships with books are key. Texts give students mirrors and windows, humanity and humor, vast connections, and the power to live a literate life. Why am I so passionate about all this? Because reading and writing have been and will always be lifeline, compass, and hope vessels for me. They nurture the internal tools we want for every soul in our care.

“I’ve said before that you have the toughest job there is that of combining relationship with academics.” Chris Crutcher, young adult author & therapist, Voices in the Middle

Books to Inspire Us & Help Us Articulate Our Pedagogy &

Develop Writing Lessons

Allende, Isabelle. Inventing the Truth.

Anderson, Carl. (2004). How's It Going? Heinemann.

Anderson, Carl. (2005). Assessing Writers. Heinemann.

Benson, Laura, ed. (2000). Colorado Reads! Colorado Department of Education.

Benson, Laura. (2003). Drawing From Our Well: Creating Writing Lessons from Our Reading Journeys. CCIRA.

Benson, Laura. (2001). Living Literate Lives. CCIRA.

Benson, Laura. (2003). Portfolios of Proficiency. Draft for Colorado Department of Education.

Benson, Laura. (2002). Revision Rituals. CCIRA.

Benson, Laura. (2001). A Writer’s Bill of Rights. IRA.

Browder, Walter. (2005). Happily Ever After: a book lover’s treasury of happy endings. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press.

Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way.

Cameron, Julia. The Right to Write.

Corgill, Ann Marie. (2008). Of Primary Importance: What’s Essential in Teaching Young Writers.

Davis, Judy. The No Nonsense Guide to Teaching Writing.

Diller, Debbie. [numerous titles]

Elbow, Peter. (1983). Writing with Power. Heinemann.

Fletcher, Ralph & Portalupi. (1998). Craft Lessons. Stenhouse.

Fletcher, Ralph & Portalupi, JoAnn. (2001). Writers Workshop. Heinemann.

Freed, Lynn. (2005). Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home: Life on the Page. Orlando: Harcourt.

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down The Bones.

Goldberg, Natalie. The Writing Life.

Gordimer, Nadine. Writing and Being.

Graves, Donald. Investigate with Nonfiction.

Graves, Donald. (1994). A Fresh Look at Writing. Heinemann.

Graves, Donald. (2005). Quick Writes. Heninemann.

Harwayne, Shelley. (1999). Going Public. Heninemann.

Harwayne, Shelley. (2005). Novel Perspectives: Writing Minilessons Inspired By The Children In Adult Fiction. Heinemann.

Harwayne, Shelley. (2001). Writing Through Childhood. Heinemann.

Heard, Georgia. (2002). The Revision Toolbox: Teaching Techniques That Work. Heinemann.

Hill, Bonnie C. (2000). Developmental Continuums. Christopher Gordon.

Hindley, Joanne. (1996). In the Company of Children. Stenhouse.

Horn, Martha and Giacobbe, Mary Ellen. (2008). Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons From Our Youngest Writers.

King, Stephen. On Writing.

Kirby, Dan & Liner, Tom. (1988; 2005). Inside Out: Developmental Strategies for Teaching Writing. Heninmann.

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird.

Lane, Barry. (1993). After The End: Teaching & Learning Creative Revision. Heinemann.

McMackin, Mary & Siegel, Barbara. Knowing How. Stenhouse.

Murray, Donald. (1996). Crafting A Life in Essays, Story, Poem. Heinemann.

Murray, Donald. Read to Write.

Murray, Donald. Shoptalk.

Murray, Donald. Write to Learn.

National Research Council. (1999). Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success. [writing connections, too]

National Writing Project & Nagin, Carl. (2003). Because Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Our Schools. Josey Bass.

Peery, Angela. (2005). ARRIVE (Reflective Journaling).

Quindlen, Anna. (2005). Being Perfect. New York: Random House.

Ray, Katie Wood and Cleveland, Lisa. About the Authors.

Ray, Katie Wood and Glover, Matt. (2008). Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten.

Ray, Katie Wood. Study Driven: A Framework for Planning Units of Study in the Writing Workshop.

Ray, Katie Wood. (1999). Wondrous Words. NCTE.

Reif, Linda. Vision & Voice. Heninemann.

Routman, Regie. (2005). Writing Essentials: Raising Expectations & Results While Simplifying Teaching. Heinemann.

Smith, Mary Ann & Juska, June. The Whole Story: Teachers Talks About Portfolios. National Writing Project.

Spandel, Vicki. (2001). Creating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction. Longman.

Stegner, Wallace. (1991). On The Teaching of Creative Writing. Stanford Press.

Strunk, W. & White, E.B. Elements of Style.

Taberski, Sharon. (2000). On Solid Ground. York, MA: Stenhouse.

Ueland, Brenda. If You Want to Write.

Welty, Eudora. (1987). One Writer’s Beginnings. Harvard.

Wilcox, Carol. (1993). All That Matters (edited by Linda Reif). Heninemann.

Youghans, Carol, & Piccolo, JoAnne. (2002). Inspiration…Not Imitation: Using Literature & The Six Traits to Inspire Young Writers. The Bookies.

Zinsser, William. On Writing Well.

The most important part of writing is to read.

I tell young people, “Read like a wolf eats,

read when they tell you not to read,

and read what the tell you not to read.”

If you read enough, ultimately when you

sit down to write, that information is in your head

and you can write, or it will start to work for you.

The rest is learning the mechanics,

which you can learn from reading, too.

Author Gary Paulsen in Regie Routman’s Writing Essentials

Books for Growing Writers

Any of the above titles offer us vignettes or advice to read to students (or, for students’ independent reading followed by discussions with fellow writers). Here are a few texts written for child authors:

Abeel, Samantha. Reach for the Moon.

Ahlberg, Allan. (2007). Previously.

Aliki. How a Book is Made.

Aliki. Painted Words, Spoken Words: Marianthe’s Story.

Althea. Making a Book.

Asher, Sandy. Where Do You Get Ideas? Walker & Company.

Atkin, B. (1993). Voices from the Field: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories. Little, Brown, & Co.

Banks, Kate. (2008). Max’s Words.

Brennan-Nelson, Denise. Someday Is Not A Day of the Week. Chelsea: Sleeping Bear Press.

Bunting, Eve. Once Upon a Time. Richard C. Owens.

Cassedy, Sylvia. In Your Own Words: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing. Crowell.

Christelow, Eileen. What Do Authors Do?

Cleary, Beverly. The Girl From Yamhill.

Clements, Andrew. (1996). Frindle. New York: Aladdin.

Cole, J. & Saul. On the Bus with Joanna Cole: A Creative Autobiography.

Creech, Sharon. (2008). Hate That Cat.

Creech, Sharon. (2001). Love That Dog. New York: Joanna Cotler Books.

Cronin, Doreen. (2003). Diary of a Worm. New York: Joanna Cotler Books.

Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Spider

Cronin, Doreen. Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type

Cummings, Pat. Talking with Artists [Volume One; Volume Two].

Curtis, Jamie Lee. Big Words.

Dakos, Kalli. (1999). The Bug in Teacher’s Coffee and Other School Poems. New York: Harper Collins.

Ehrlich, Amy. When I Was Your Age: Original Stories About Growing Up I & II.

Ellis, Sarah. The Young Writer’s Companion: Journal.

Fletcher, Ralph. How Writers Work.

Fletcher, Ralph. Live Writing: Breathing Life Into Your Words.

Fletcher, Ralph. Author at Work: REFLECTIONS.

Fletcher, Ralph. What A Writer Needs.

Fletcher, Ralph. (2005). A Writing Kind of Day: Poems for Young Poets. Honesdale: Woodsong.

Florian, Douglas. (2003). Autumnblings. New York: Greenwillow.

Freedom Writes & Gruwell, E. (1999). The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. New York: Broadway Books.

Friedman, Robin. How I Survived My Summer Vacation…And Lived to Write the Story.

George, Kristin O’Connell. (2002). Little Dog Poems. New York: Clarion Books.

George, Kristin O’Connell. (2002). Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems. New York: Clarion Books.

Gilbar, Steven. The Open Door: When Writers First Learned to Read.

Graham, Bob. (2008). How to Heal a Broken Wing.

Guthrie & Bentley. The Young Author’s Do-It-Yourself Book.

Henson, Heather. (2008). That Book Woman.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Books are by People.

Howe, James. Playing with Words.

Janeczko, Paul B. Poetry From A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers.

Janeczko, Paul B. A Scholastic Guide: How To Write Poetry.

Jenkins, Steve. (2008). Dogs and Cats.

Kehoe, Michael. A Book Takes Root: The Making of a Picture Book.

Kennedy, Caroline. (2005). A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children. New York: Hyperion.

Kloske, Geoffrey. (2005). Once upon a time, then End (asleep in 60 second). New York: Anne Schwartz/Antheneum.

Krull, Kathleen. Lives of the Writers.

Krupinski, Loretta. Bluewater Journal: The Voyage of the SEA TIGER

Leedy, Loreen. (2004). Look at My Book: How Kids Can Write & Illustrate Terrific Books. New York: Holiday House.

Lloyd, Pamela. How Writers Work.

London, Jonathan. (1995). Like Butter on Pancakes. New York: Viking.

Lowry, Lois. Looking Back: A Book of Memories.

Marcus, Leonard. Author Talk: Conversations with Judy Blume, Bruce Brooks, Karen Cushman, Russell Freedman….

McPhail, David. In Flight with David McPhail.

Moses, Barry & Harper, Isabella. My Dog Rosie

Nabisso, J. Show, Don’t Tell

Navasky, Bruno. Festival in My Heart: Poems by Japanese Children.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. How I Came to Be a Writer.

Nixon, Joan Lowery. The Making of a Writer.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. How I Came To Be A Writer.

Numeroff, Laura & Harpham, W. (2001). The Hope Tree: Kids Talk About Breast Cancer. Simon & Schuster.

Owens, Richard C. (editor). Meet the Author Series. Richard C. Owens Publishers.

Pulver, Robin. (2005). Author Day for Room 3T. New York: Clarion.

Pulver, Robin. (2003). Punctuation Takes a Vacation. New York: Holiday House.

Routman, Regie. Kids’ Poems: Teaching Student to Love Writing Poetry. Scholastic.

Rylant, Cynthia. Best Wishes: Meet the Author Series.

Rylant, Cynthia. (2008). Snow.

Shwartz, Ronald. (1999). For The Love of Books: 115 Celebrated Writers on the Books They Love Most. Grosset-Putnam.

Spain, Sahara Sunday. (2001). if there would be no light. Harper.

Spinelli, Eileen. (2008). Someday.

Spinelli, Eileen. (2008). The Best Story.

Spinelli, Jerry. Knots in My Yo-yo String. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Stepanek, Mattie. Heartsongs.

Stepanek, Mattie. Journey to Heartsongs.

Stevens, Janet. From Pictures to Words: A Book About Making A Book.

Swallow, Pamela Curtis. A Writer’s Notebook: The Ultimate Guide to Creative Writing.

Thomson, Sarah. (2005). Imagine a Day. New York: Antheneum.

Thomson, Sarah. (2008). Imagine a Place.

Watt, Melanie. Chester.

Williams, Vera. Cherries & Cherry Pits. [Check out the dedication.]

Wong, Janet. (2002). You Have To Write. New York: Margaret McElderry Books.

Yolen, Jane. A Letter From Phoenix Farm.

Zemach, Kaethe. The Character In The Book.

Mirrors & Windows: Helping students see themselves & learn about others through texts


Am I a Color Too? ~ Heidi Cole & Nancy Vogl

black is brown is tan ~ Arnold Adoff

Is There a Human Race? ~ Jamie Lee Curtis

Keep Climbing, Girls ~ Beah Richards

One Green Apple ~ Eve Bunting

How Much? Visiting Markets Around the World by Ted Lewin

I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child

The Dot and Ish by Peter Reynolds

Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, illustrations by Marc Brown

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter

My Librarian Is a Camel by Margriet Ruurs

Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions ~ Janet S. Wong

In The Leaves ~ Huy Voun Lee

Skin Again ~ Bell Hooks

The Color of Us ~ Karen Katz


The Worry Web Site by Jacqueline Wilson

The Cheat by Amy Goldman Koss

Lunch Money and The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements

Story Time by Edward Bloor

Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell

The Teacher’s Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech

Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Here Today by Ann Martin

Bindi Babes and Bollywood Babes by Narinder Dhami

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (Newbery Honor 2004)

Jackie’s Wild Seattle and Leaving Protection by Will Hobbs

Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen

How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Pirates! by Celia Rees

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E. L. Konigsburg

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt (Newbery Honor 2004)

Scrib by David Ives

The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis

Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

Replay by Sharon Creech

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Silverfin by Charlie Higson

Small Steps by Louis Sachar

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo


Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd

Hallelujah Handel by Edouglas Cowling, illustrated by Jason Walker

Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson

John’s Secret Dreams by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Hudson Talbott


Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist by Lesa Cline-Ransome, ill by James Ransome

A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet by Kathryn Lasky

If the Walls Could Talk by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Gary Hovland

The Darling Nellie Bly: America’s Star Reporter by Bonnie Christensen

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

Luba, The Angel of Bergen-Belsen, told to Michelle McCann by Luba Tryszynska-Frederick

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams

Tsunami: Helping Each Other by Ann Morris and Heidi Larson

Owen and Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff and Paula Kabuke

The Milestone Project, photographs by Richard Steckel and Michele Steckel


Wonderful Words by Lee Bennett Hopkins

In the Land of Words by Eloise Greenfield

Ordinary Things: Poems from a Walk in Early Spring by Ralph Fletcher

A Writing Kind of Day: Poems for Young Poets by Ralph Fletcher

Least Things: Poems About Small Natures by Jane Yolen

Definitions by Sara Holbrook

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (Coretta Scott King Honor)

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms selected by Paul Janeczko

Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O’Connell George, illustrated by Lauren Stringer

Genre Based Text Structures:



Animal Faces ~ Darlyne Murawski

Big & Little ~ Steve Jenkins

Bud and Blossom ~ Gail Saunders Smith

Cloud Book, The ~ Tomie dePaola

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell

Popcorn Book, The ~ Tomie dePaola

Rosa ~ Nikki Giovanni

Visiting Langston ~ Perdomo

*See the Meet the Authors Series published by Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.

Nonfiction Mentors:


Melvin Berger

Franklyn Branley

Joanna Cole

Donald Crews

Lois Ehlert

Allan Fowler

Rita Golden Gelman

Gail Gibbons

Linda Glasser

Ruth Heller

Barnabas & Annabel Kindersley

Patricia Lauber

Milton Meltzer

Charles Micucci

Ann Morris

Ifeoma Onyefulu

Mary Pope Osborne

Jerry Pallotta

Laurence Pringle

Seymour Simon

Gail Saunders Smith (esp. great for Kindergarten & early 1st; Gail is a K teacher)

*See www.guysread.com for connections to many of these authors.

Organizing Text with Repeated Phrase

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? ~ Bill Martin

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom ~ Bill Martin

Don’t Be Sill, Mrs. Millie! ~ Judy Cox

Fortunately ~ Remy Charlip

Grandpa Never Lives ~ Ralph Fletcher

Imagine A Day ~ Sarah Thomson

Important Book, The ~ Margaret Wise Brown

In November ~ Cynthia Rylant

Making the World ~ Douglas Wood

Mothers Are Like That ~ Carol Carrick

My Dad ~ Anthony Brown

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You See? ~ Bill Martin

Someday Is Not a Day of the Week ~ Denise Brennan-Nelson

This is the Tree ~ Miriam Moss

Tree is Nice, A ~ Janie May Udry

Up North at the Cabin ~ Marsha Wilson

When I am Old With You ~ Angela Johnson

Organizing Text with a Series of Questions & Answers

Do You Know What I’ll Do? ~ C. Zolotow

Have you Ever Done That? ~ Julie Larios

Momma, Where Are You From? M. Bradby

One More Time, Mama ~ Sue Alexander

Organizing Text by Following Natural Time Pattern

Cloud Dance ~ Thomas Locker

Diary of a Spider ~ Doreen Cronin

Diary of a Worm ~ Doreen Cronin

Hungry Caterpillar ~ Eric Carle

Love That Dog ~ Sharon Creech

Granddad Tree ~ Trish Cooke

Mice & Beans ~ Pam Munoz Ryan

Park Beat ~ Jonathan London

Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts ~ Hines

When the Earth Wakes ~ Ani Rucki

Organizing Text with Sequence of Time [historical events]:

Rosa ~ Nikki Giovanni

Show Way ~ Jacqueline Woodson

Books with Surprise Endings:

Alexander & the Wind-up Mouse ~ Leo Lionni

Changes ~ Anthony Brown

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type ~ Doreen Cronin

First Day Jitters ~ Julie Dannenberg

Just Like Daddy ~ Frank Asch

Magic Hat, The ~ Mem Fox

Wednesday Surprise, The ~ Eve Bunting

Texts structured with Compare & Contrast:

Big & Little ~ Steve Jenkins

Color Me A Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People by Jane Yolen

Tree Is Nice, A ~ Janie May Udry

Toot & Puddle ~ Holly Hobbie

Texts structured with Counting:

Hippos Go Bersek! ~ Sandra Boynton

Texts structured with ABC:

ABC Bunny

Animalia ~ Graham Base

Q is for Duck


to foster students’ motivation & confidence to write

Poetry, Poetry, Poetry to the Rescue!

To help students 1) want to write; 2) generate topics for their writing; and 3) be mindful of structuring their writing (to name just a few benefits here), poetry is a terrific motivator. The brevity of poems makes it possible for students “to finish what they start.” To help students understand how to structure texts in poetic form, turn to the following mentors.

Great Mentor Poets:

Byrd Baylor

Douglas Florian

Robert Frost

Kristin O’Connell George

Donald Graves

Nikki Grimes

Georgia Heard

Sara Holbrook

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Langston Hughes

Paul Januzco

Jonathan London

George Ella Lyon (in picture book format)

Valerie Worth

Jane Yolen

Charlotte Zolotow

Creech, Sharon Heartbeat

Creech, Sharon Love That Dog

Dakos, Kalli The Bug in Teacher’s Coffee and Other School Poems

Doolittle, B. & Maclay, E. The Forest Has Eyes

Fletcher, Ralph Ordinary Things: Poems from a Walk in Early Spring

Fletcher, Ralph A Writing Kind of Day: Poems for Young Poets

Florian, Douglas Autumnblings

George, Kristin O. The Great Frog Race

George, Kristin O. Little Dog Poems

George, Kristin O. Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems

Graves, Donald Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash: Poems About Growing Up

Holbrook, Sara Definitions

Holbrook, Sara The Dog Ate My Homework

Holbrook, Sara Wham! A Poetry Jam

Hopkins, Lee Bennett Extra Innings: Baseball Poems

Hudson Pass It On!

Johnston, Tony It’s About Dogs.

Kennedy, Caroline A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children

Lillegard, Dee Hello School! A Classroom Full of Poems

Locker, Thomas Mountain Dance

London, Jonathan Fireflies in the Night

London, Jonathan Like Butter On Pancakes

Myers, Walter Dean Monster [for H.S. & above]

Spain, Sahara Sunday if there would be no light… [CHILD AUTHOR]

Stepanek, Mattie Heartsongs [series of poetry collections] [CHILD AUTHOR]

Also, picture books are often poems. They offer students keen insights about the options they can explore and utilize in structuring and organizing their own texts.

Jokes, Pun, & Riddles
Jokes and humor texts help students playfully approach text structure and offer students diverse genre portraits. As you engage students in learning from humor mentors texts, first and foremost, engage children in reading their own writing and the work of their peers.
Calmenson, Stephanie What Am I? Very First Riddles
dePaola, Tomie Hey Diddle Diddle and Other Mother Goose Rhymes
Keane, Bil Pun-Abridged Dictionary

Merriam, Eve Higgle Wiggle: Happy Rhymes

O’Donnell, Rosie Kids Are Funny 1 & 2
Terban, Marvin In A Pickle and Other Funny Idioms

Journal Book Bundle
To create their short and spirited texts journal or diary type texts, the following mentor text offer students a variety of ways to structure their own journal/diary writing

Cronin, Doreen Diary of a Worm

Filopovic, Zlata Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo
Fitzhugh, Louise Harriet the Spy
Hunter, Latoya The Diary of Latoya Hunter: My First Year in Jr. High +
Moss, Marissa Amelia’s Notebooks (numerous titles)
Park, Barbara Junie B., First Grader (at last!)
Snyder, Carol Memo: To Myself When I Have A Teenage Kid +
Wardlaw, Lee 101 Ways To Bug Your Parents
Wilder, Laura Ingalls On The Way Home

and… Safari Journal

Letter Writing Book Bundle
First and foremost, engage children in reading their own writing/letters and the work of their peers. As well as providing students with a relevant genre in which to learn more about text structure, letter writing is very motivating for kids. Additionally, letters provide us with a relevant vehicle to teach students conventions and help them care about being mindful of conventions in their own writing.

Ada, Alma Flor With Love, Little Red Hen
Ada, Alma Flor Yours Truly, Goldilocks

Ahlberg, Janet & Allen The Jolly Postman Or Other’s People’s Letters
The Jolly Pocket Postman

Banotuk, Nick Griffin and Sabine (trilogy)
Caseley, Judith Dear Annie
Cleary, Beverly Dear Mr. Henshaw
Cronin, Doreen Click Clack Moo Cows That Type

Diary of a Spider

Diary of a Worm

Giggle Giggle Quack

Day, Alexandra Special Deliveries
Dupasquier, Philippe Dear Daddy...
Fox, Mem Dear Mem Fox, I Have Read All Your Books Even The Pathetic Ones
George, Jean Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here
Giff, Patricia Reilly The War Began at Supper: Letter To Miss Loria
James, Simon Dear Mr. Blueberry
Johnston, Tony Amber On The Mountain
Nagda, Ann Whitehead Dear Whiskers
Nichol, Barbara Beethoven Lives Upstairs
Nordlicht, Lillian A Medal for Mike
Pak, Soyung Dear Juno
Pomerantz, Charlotte The Birthday Letters
Ross, Tony Little Wolf’s Book of Badness
Selway, Martina Don’t Forget To Write
Whybrow, Ian Little Wolf’s Book of Badness

Magazines & Periodicals
American Girls

Boy’s Life


Disney Adventures

ESPN Magazine



Ranger Rick

Scholastic News

Sports Illustrated for Kids

Teen People

Time for Kids


Word Lovers

Books to Deepen Students Love of Words & Word Learning

Clements, Andrew. (1996). Frindle. New York: Aladdin.

DeGross, Mona Lisa. (1994). Donovan’s Word Jar. New York: Trophy.

Funk, Charles. (1948). Hog On Ice & Other Curious Expressions. New York: Harper Colophon.

Gwynne, Fred. Chocolate Moose for Dinner.

Gwynne, Fred. The King Who Rained.

Holbrook, Sara. (2002). Wham! It’s a Poetry Jam: Discovering Performance Poetry. Honesdale, PA: Woodsong.

Joseph, Lynn. (2000). The Color of My Words. New York: Joanna Cotler Books.

Lowry, Lois. Gooney Bird Greene

Snicket, Lemony. The Series of Unfortunate Events.

Yolen, Jane. Color Me A Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People. Honesdale, PA: Woodsong.

*Beck, McKeown, & Kucan. Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction.

Memoir Mentor Texts

for Cultivating Students’ Topic Generation

The following texts are excellent “co-teachers” as you model and apprentice students in writing from a memory. Modeling and apprenticing students in writing from a memory, the following texts help us illuminate how and why to create these stories with and for our students.

Memory Texts

dePaola, Tomie The Art Lesson

Chicken Feet in My Soup

Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs

Now One Foot, Now the Other


Kennedy, Caroline A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poems for Children

Paulsen, Gary My Life in Dog Years

Rylant, Cynthia The Relatives Came; When I Was Young in the Mountains

Thomson, Sarah Imagine a Day

Memoir & Biography Shorter Texts & Vignettes
First and foremost, engage children in reading their own writing and the work of their peers.
Cleary, Beverly Girl From Yamhill
Fountes, Justine & Ron Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legend
Hopkins, Lee Bennett Pauses: Autobiographical Reflections of 101 Creators of Children’s Books
Howe, James Playing With Words
Joyce, William The William Joyce Scrapbook
Krull, Kathleen Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels, And What The Neighbors Thought
Lew, Brenda Ralph The Story of Ann Frank
Little, Jean Hey, World, Here I Am!
McPhail, David In Flight With David McPhail: A Creative Autobiography
Newman, Paul I Will Sing Life: Voices from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
, Cynthia
Best Wishes
Scieszka, Jon (2005) Guys Write for GUYS READ [Viking]

Williams, Rozanne Lanczak & Maio, Barbara Meet The Authors (series)

Woodson, Jacqueline Showway

Yolen, Jane Life on


Alma Flor Ada said...

Congratulations on this very informative blog. Thanks for including two of my books in letter format, Yuurs Truly, Goldilocks, and With Love Little Red Hen in your list. The other books with sotry books characters living in Hidden Forest are Dear Peter Rabbit, also in letter format and Extra! Extra1 Fairy-Tale News from Hidden Forest, which I wrote in newspaper format. Many teachers have found the different forms of writing shown in that book useful to make children aware of the various forms their written voice can take. Again, Congratulations and thanks. It's nice to se my books listed in such wonderful site. Have a wondrous day! All best wishes, Alma Flor Ada

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