Using mentor texts to help teach opinion writing is a great way for students to help understand the expectations for writing skills. I love using a variety of texts when teaching but not all texts will be mentor texts.
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What is an opinion writing mentor text?
Mentor texts are books that you choose as an example for what students need to learn. When students can see an example of quality writing, it can help improve their own writing. Mentor texts allow them to understand how an author uses the craft of writing to do things such as craft a great introduction, provide detailed reasons for their opinion, and end with a solid conclusion.
According to the National Writing Project, “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.” When we use mentor texts to teach the craft of writing, we are encouraging our students to imitate what they see in their favorite books.
Choosing Opinion Writing Mentor Texts
The first step to choosing the right mentor text is to look for a book that exemplifies what you want to see in your students' writing. I like to find books that can be used to showcase multiple skills.
The next step is to pick a book that your students will enjoy hearing (and you’ll enjoy reading) multiple times. Since we are looking for opinion writing mentor texts, we should pick some books that can be polarizing. Books that will lend to a healthy discussion of whether they like it or not are great examples for setting up opinion writing.
When I chose my favorite mentor texts for my opinion writing unit, I picked books that matched my writing goals. I wanted my students to write opinions that were book reviews, persuasive letters, and solid opinion paragraphs with an introduction, stated opinion with reasons, and a conclusion. I looked for books that showcased this and were relatable and enjoyable to my students. Here are the books I ended up with:
Related Post: Choosing a Mentor Text for Reading and Writing
Duck & Goose
Duck & Goose by Tad Hill is an adorable and funny story that I love to use in both reading and writing. The first time I read this story to my class I cover the pictures and let students come up with their own images for the story. This lends to lessons about inference and also lets you frontload lessons about how images can add more details to your stories.
Opinion Writing Tip: Use this story for a book review. I find most students either like or dislike this story. Duck and Goose make great characters and there are lots of little story moments that can lend to reasons for liking or disliking the book.
The Most Magnificent Thing
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is a great book to read when about to start your opinion writing unit. The main character is determined to make the most magnificent thing and we see her try and need to adjust her thinking when she begins to struggle with her project.
Opinion Writing Tip: Use this story to frontload opinions as the unnamed main character has a strong opinion on wanting to create a magnificent thing. This story is also great for word choice and discussions about dealing with feelings and perseverance.
Smelly Socks by Robert Munsch is a hilarious book that my students love every year. Robert Munsch is the master of writing super funny stories that are based off of a real-life encounter or story he’s embellished. His writing follows a style that students can mimic in their own writing.
Opinion Writing Tip: Use this story for a book review. This book is great for teaching about adding details to provide reasons for an opinion - something that is needed in explaining why you like or dislike a book.
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell is a great book that teaches the power of ignoring a bully and staying true to yourself. Students love the message and the description of the main character Molly Lou in this great story.
Opinion Writing Tip: Use this book for a book review or writing an opinion paragraph. Students will be able to find many ways to support their opinion with reasons from the book. This book is also great at teaching how to write a great character.
The Important Book
The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown is a collection of easy to read poems about everyday important things. This book provides many examples on each page that follows a simple formula students can use as a template for their own writing.
Opinion Writing Tip: Use this book to craft an opinion writing paragraph. Students can use this collection of poems to understand how an introduction and a conclusion connect together.
I Wanna Iguana
I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff is a funny book about a mother and son swapping letters with each other in the boy’s pursuit of his friend’s iguana. My students love hearing each letter as we read the story together combined with the colorful and detailed illustrations.
Opinion Writing Tip: Use this book to teach persuasive letter writing or just persuasive writing in general. Examine the letters to talk about the reasons the mother or son give about their opinion.
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