Read Alouds for Teaching Writing

Hi friends! It’s Kristen from Where the First Graders Are. I am so excited to team up with Jen from Sparkling in Second and share with you three of my favorite picture books for teaching writing. I have to say that I love teaching writing more than any other subject. I love it because there is never a perfect paper, you simply try to inspire each student to write and illustrate better than they did the time before. I think there is something really special about that. Let's get started, shall we?

How to Extend a Story

I was introduced to a new book this year called Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter. In fair warning, this is a pretty long book. However, it serves as a great mentor text. Each page could be used as a different Writer’s Workshop mini-lesson on how to extend a story. The main storyline is about a young girl who is trying to write a story, but can’t think of anything to write about. As she sits on the steps of her house, she observes different people in her neighborhood who try to help her with her problem. Here are some examples:

Mr. Sims, a retired actor, tells the narrator “The whole word’s a stage. Observe. And don’t forget the details.”

Mrs. Martinez, a chef, tells the narrator “Add a little action. Like soup. A little this. A little that. And don’t forget the spice.”

Alexis Leora, a ballerina, tells the narrator “If your story doesn’t go the way you want it to, you can always STRETCH the truth!”

Illustrating and Sequencing

Patches Lost and Found by Steven Kroll is an adorable book about a girl named Jenny that loves to draw but she does not like to write. When Jenny’s teacher gives her a writing assignment, her mother encourages her to make a story with pictures first, then she can go back and write the story.

This book serves as a great reminder to me as a teacher that some students (and adults) really do struggle to come up with a good storyline. After reading this book, I now give my students an allotted amount of time to write and illustrate their story. Some start with words and some start with pictures. I tell my kids that it is up to them what they do first, as long as the story is finished (or close to finished) in a certain period of time. I’d be lying though if I didn’t admit that about half way through the “allotted amount of time” I encourage my students to start writing if they had not already done so.

This book and method is also really great if your students are struggling to write stories with a true beginning, middle and end. In first grade, it still seems like a difficult concept for students to write a story where more than one event happens. Patches Lost and Found is a great mentor text for teaching sequencing and introducing/using those transition words.

Writing Letters

If you have not already read The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, you might be living under a rock. These two picture books have captured students’ and teachers’ hearts alike and they are a GREAT way to teach students about letter writing.

What I really love about this book as a mentor text is how the crayons’ letters to Duncan showcase so many different emotions. It is a great way to show students different reasons for writing letters. Sometimes you write letters because your happy or upset, or you might just be writing to say hello.

What picture books do you use for writing mini-lessons? Share in the comments below!

No comments

Back to Top