Not too long ago, I overheard a conversation between teachers about whether it was appropriate to use picture books in 5th and 6th grade… I was totally eavesdropping, and if that wasn’t already rude enough, it would have been super rude to butt into their conversation and scream, “YES!!! USE PICTURE BOOKS!!!!!!!” So, I held my tongue there, but I don’t have to hold it here. 🙂
Who DOESN’T love to read picture books? I know I still do as an adult… I am, after all, a self-proclaimed bookaholic. A cute, catchy cover will get me every time!
I had a “books of the month” shelf in my 4th grade classroom that I would fill with seasonal picture books- all of my students (higher and lower level readers alike) LOVED to visit that shelf! That is one reason I include seasonal books in my mentor sentence units. As if you needed an excuse to read a fun book like Polar Express or I Need My Monster, right?
But besides that, here are FOUR great reasons you should be using mentor texts in your room:
1. The story is usually done in 32 pages. When you refer to parts of the story in your lessons, most likely, students are going to remember. You can read a great picture book one day, and then use it for various lessons for days after that! Often times, you can teach SEVERAL standards with one picture book! (That is, after all, why Better Than Basal Volume 1 and Volume 2 was born!) They make great examples when writing memoirs, too. Patricia Polacco has some awesome books to demonstrate small moment writing, like My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother.
2. Picture books hold students’ attention with illustrations and vivid language throughout. Seriously- some of the BEST examples I’ve found of figurative language, vivid verbs, and sensory details come from picture books. Books like Firefly Mountain, Twilight Comes Twice, and Come On Rain are some great ones that come to mind.
3. There are so many amazing historical fiction books, science fiction texts, and even math literature! Teaching about explorers or Christopher Columbus? Try Encounter. Teaching the American Revolution? Katie’s Trunk is awesome! If you are teaching about weather, Cloud Dance and Water Dance are excellent additions! I even have an entire set of Mentor Sentences for Math Literature! We know there isn’t enough time in the school day to read a book before every lesson (as much as we’d like to) so spread that book as much as you can!
4. Before you start throwing things at me through the computer screen, please do not think I’m saying to never read a novel with your students again. Chapter books, extended texts, novels… whatever you want to call them… are still so important! Students have to build stamina and stick with a story that really builds- I totally agree. But students also need to see, hear, and understand so many different styles to become better readers and writers. What better way than to read mentor texts all year long?
Need to build up your library? Check out this post about Buying Books on a Budget!