I love teaching narrative writing using mentor texts. Students are always engaged with the stories and remember them throughout our writing unit. Here are a list of my favorites.
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What is a narrative writing mentor text?
Mentor texts are books that are chosen to be an example of what students are expected to learn. Having a mentor text can provide a great model for students to understand these expectations.
Narrative writing mentor texts can help teach students about word choice, illustrations, and how to tell engaging stories rich with descriptions. The National Writing Project says, “Mentor texts help students to take risks and be different writers tomorrow than they are today. It helps them to try out new strategies and formats.”
Choosing A Narrative Writing Mentor Text
When choosing a mentor text the first step is to pick a book you will enjoy reading. Mentor texts are often read multiple times and I usually read excerpts repeatedly for students to hear the rich descriptions.
Next, you should look for texts that exemplify the type of writing elements you want to teach. For example, if you are doing lessons on adding details to pictures you should look for a book with lots of details in the pictures that help add to the story.
Grumpycorn by Sara McIntyre is a great book to launch writer’s workshop or a narrative writing unit. Grumpycorn struggles throughout the book with coming up with ideas for his story he wants to write.
Narrative Writing Tip: Use this story to teach students about brainstorming. This story would also be great to teach the writing process.
Ralph Tells a Story
Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon is the perfect book to talk about personal narratives. Poor Ralph thinks he doesn’t have any stories to tell until his classmates start asking him questions about what happened with an inchworm he saw.
Narrative Writing Tip: This book is perfect for showcasing that personal narratives are all about stories that happen to us (big or small). Another great lesson would be about how to add details to your story through asking questions about what happened next.
Bigmama’s by Donald Crews is one of my favorite books to share during our narrative writing unit. This mentor text is a great book that is rich in storytelling about siblings visiting Bigmama for the summer.
Narrative Writing Tip: This narrative writing mentor text is a wonderful way to teach students how to make a text to self connection and write about a memory.
A Chair for My Mother
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams tells the story about a girl and her mother who are saving up to purchase a chair for their house after a fire destroys everything they own.
Narrative Writing Tip: This book is a classic for showing students how to write colorful descriptions in their stories. It is often a great mentor text for teaching about small moments in storytelling.
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran is a wonderful book showcasing children using their imagination to play and create the town of Roxaboxen.
Narrative Writing Tip: Use this book to show how a story can focus on one idea. Then use this book again to discuss the illustrations and all the details in the story.
Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee is another superb book that zooms in on the small moment of a roller coaster and all the feelings that come with it.
Narrative Writing Tip: Use this book for a perfect introduction to teaching plot. Plot is often like a roller coaster to keep the events exciting for the reader. This book can also be used to teach small moments.
Shortcut by Donald Crews is another favorite narrative writing mentor text. Donald Crews is masterful in creating short, engaging stories that draw in my students. Shortcut keeps the suspense coming when a group of students decide to take the shortcut through the train tracks.
Narrative Writing Tip: Use this book to teach students about adding suspense in their stories.
The Relatives Came
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is a fantastic book about a family visiting their relatives in the summertime. This book is rich in details both in the illustrations and the words making it a great mentor text.
Narrative Writing Tip: Use this book to teach about adding details to a story through the illustrations.