Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Mentor Texts in Writing: Introductions in Narrative Text

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 

Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

This week, we’ll look at some great introductions in narrative text. When thinking about mentor texts, it is important for our students to be able to notice and name things and then to try new things in their own writing. I am a firm believer that studying introductions in narrative transfers to other genres. I worry that we are so tied to units of study that we don’t realize how much writing craft spans all types of writing. So this week, we’ll focus on narrative introductions but that doesn’t mean the craft moves learned can only be used in narrative writing.

Oge Mora is such an incredible writer and the way she introduces Saturday is definitely worth study and conversation. I’d consider the first four pages of this book the introduction. She uses great repeated language, used short phrases to set up the excitement and also gives us a bit of a clue as to what is to come. So many craft moves in such a short introduction. I like this one because sometimes students think the introduction is the first page by default but this book provides a good mentor on discussing which pages do serve as the introduction and discussing what an introduction to a story is. I’d say this is a 4 page introduction but am open to other thoughts. Understanding what an introduction is, is key for our writers so thinking about how much of the book is used to set up the story would make for a great mini lesson.

If you were at the Dublin Literacy Conference, you heard John Schu read the first page of Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us aloud. I think these transitional chapter book authors are BRILLIANT at writing introductions. Because of the ways these authors support readers, the first page sets up the story. There is so much to discuss and try on this first page that I’d definitely include this book in a study of narrative introductions.

I love this introduction because it says so much in such a short paragraph. Sona Sharma, Very Good Big Sister? is a new series with the 2nd book coming soon. This introduction focuses more on setting but you learn a great deal about the main character by learning about where she lives. Such a visual is created by the words the author chose to begin with.

Mr. Watson’s Chickens is another fabulous picture book is another one that takes about 4 pages to set up. The last line of this introduction, “He started, like any sensible person, with 3.” gives the reader a bit of a clue as to what is coming as the story progresses. It is a great craft move for young writers to try out. This book also has the perfect amount of humor so writers who want to try writing something with a bit of humor can learn a great deal from this author.

Dragons in a Bag is a bit different from the others as Zetta Elliot begins by taking us right into the story–there is already a scene happening complete with some dialogue and as the reader we have to figure that out. This is a more sophisticated introduction for young writers to try and kids will have so much fun giving it a try–thinking about where in the story, they want to begin and how that might look.

This week’s books were linked at Bookelicious and/or  Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous local children’s bookstore to support, Cover to Cover is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio! If you don’t have an independent children’s bookstore in your town, check out Bookelicious. They are an online independent bookstore for children with an incredible curated collection. 

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Franki’s Weekly Text Set-Writing Mentors: How Do Different Writers Approach Similar Topics?

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

This week’s Text Set focuses on writing mentors. Often for writers, it is helpful to see the various ways different writers approach similar topics. Studying the possibilities is important in all genres and formats of writing. This week, we’ll focus mostly on narrative texts that would work well in a narrative unit of study.

(You’ll notice a few sets of these books were shared last spring with a reading focus. I am a big believer in using anchor mentor texts across the year for a variety of reasons. So even though some sets are the same or similar, the focus of this set is study as a writer, especially as part of a narrative unit of study.)

Family Get-Togethers

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is a classic text used in many writing workshops in the study of narrative. To deepen the study, comparing different ways writers write about a family reunion–the word choice, the focus, the imagery, etc. can be done using this classic along with Family Reunion and Going Down Home with Daddy. Each of these has a very different writing style and young writers can learn a great deal from comparing these.

A Trip

Writing about a trip is something young writers like to do, especially within a narrative unit of study. Fatima’s Great Outdoors and The Camping Trip each focus on a camping trip and the experiences of that one trip. Writers can study the format and also the focus that each story has within the topic of a camping trip.

Learning Something New

Learning a new skill takes patience and practice and each of these characters’ stories shows that. The Electric Slide and Kai, The Most Magnificent Thing, Jabari Tries and Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao show the messiness of the learning process! Learning something new is a great topic for narratives and there are so many ways to approach the topic. This set shows writers the variety of things learned as well as a variety of ways to approach the topic as a writer.

Someone We Love

Writing about someone we love to spend time with or someone we miss is a common topic in narrative writing. When Lola Visits, Saturdays are for Stella, and I Dream of Popo explore the relationships as well as coping with missing a loved one in different ways.

The Current Pandemic

The current pandemic something on many children’s minds and these three books (Outside, Inside, And the People Stayed Home, and Keeping the City Going take that current issue and open conversations for children. These books can also be used as mentors because even though each is about the pandemic, the focus and the writer’s purpose of each is very different.

This week’s books were linked at Cover to Cover Children’s Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous children’s bookstore to support, this is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio!