Each summer, we offer a Summer Writing Academy for students who love to write. We organize and plan the academy with specific themes in mind, and this year, we are planning to emphasize the power of story in relaying opinions and messages. Additionally, we will study mentor texts that celebrate people and places, and I am predicting that many of our students will write some wonderful pieces along the lines of When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant, one of my all time books and one that celebrates the magic of a place.
Today, I spent some time in the library looking for and rereading books that contain opinions, as well as books that celebrate people or places.
I'm guessing that most of you have read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, but it was wonderful to read it and think about it as a book with a strong opinion that so many children share. We should all treat each other with kindness is a popular claim for elementary opinion writing, but Each Kindness is a beautiful example of how narrative writing can express that claim.
Along similar lines is Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee. We usually use this book as a mentor text for teaching students about the power of small moment stories, but this book also has an opinion about trying new things that is embedded within the story. I forgot about The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting as a book we could since it is such a beautiful narrative about never being too old to learn something new.
Sometimes opinion writers can write essay-like pieces to celebrate people and places, but we can also express those opinions with narrative pieces. Sweet, Sweet Memory by Jacqueline Woodson, My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston, What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan, and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox are all books that I am looking forward to using as mentor texts for celebrating places and people. (And don't forget When I Was Young in the Mountains!)
Dr. Seuss is an author who embeds strong opinions, and his work will definitely find a place in our Summer Academy. If you have some other favorites or suggestions, please share!