Monday, May 4, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsburg at Unleashing Readers cohost It's Monday! What are You Reading? weekly on their blogs.  To see what others are reading and recommending each Monday, or to participate, be sure to head over to these blogs.

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!

Happy reading!


  1. I like All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan. And how about Kadir Nelson's book If You Plant a Seed? I'm off to request Roller Coaster and Sweet, Sweet Memory, two new titles for me.

  2. I love all of these and have used all of them in my classroom at some point. I have not thought about using them as companions of opinion and people/places. Another one I always liked and I think would fit into this was The Summer My Father Was Ten. Great selections! Now I want to go back reread and think about opinion!

  3. Thank you for sharing these books with us. We love the way these texts can be used to teach across a variety of genres.

  4. Your post has come along at just the right time. Some teachers at our school are interested in doing work around mentor texts for writing this year. I've bookmarked your site and will share it with them.
    PS Can I come to summer academy?

  5. I am planning to teach a summer writing camp, too. This post is very helpful as I already have quite a few of the books mentioned. I hope we can share ideas and activities as we get closer.

  6. I have to find Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee - as I love her books and this title is unfamiliar to me. Thanks for sharing!