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

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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-Launching the Writer’s Notebook

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

It’s the time of year where many of us are launching writer’s notebooks with our students. During these first weeks of writing, we want children to become confident writers, to find joy in writing and to see what’s possible. As a teacher my goal, thanks to the work of Shelley Harwayne has been on volume and variety. Over the years, I have relied on picture books to support this phase of the school year and I keep refreshing the set of books I use.

List writing is one of the best ways I’ve found to engage writers who have not had great experiences with writing. Creating lists is sometimes a great way for these writers to ease into writing. And let’s face it, list writing is part of every writer’s life. These books (I Wish You Knew, I Am Every Good Thing, What I Am, and My Heart Fills With Happiness) invite list writing by following the thread of the book. Reading one of these books and inviting students to make a list similar to what the author did is a good option for writers during those first days of workshop.

Writers often write about places they love. This set of books (My Casa is My Home, From My Window, and In My Mosque) does that but in three very different ways. For writers who struggle with a topic, place is something that gives lots of options. I have used these books along with the map in Ralph Fletcher’s Marshfield Dreams to think about writing and drawing about places that are important to us.

We want our students to learn from other writers and one way we do that is to play with mimicking or copying something a writer does-playing with it a bit. Guess Who, Haiku and Ribbit! both invite writers to Try it! Trying to write a riddle Haiku or trying to write a description with the 3 sentence part used so obviously in Ribbit! make for a fun day in writing workshop. This type of writing invitation encourages young writers to play with language-to have fun with it!

Writers use their senses and these two books help young writers see what is possible when they do that. Hello, Rain! is a poem in picture book format and the whole book describes a rainy day. Writers might think about describing something in a poetic way. And Listen reminds writers that sound is an important part of description.

So much of our writing revolves around people, especially those that we love. There are so many ways to show our love of the favorite people in our life though writing. Each of these 3 books– My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Not Enough Emilys in Hey World, Here I Am, and Your Mama–does this in different ways and each is accessible to young writers.

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. (Warning: You will want to create a bookmoji while you are there. This will be the highlight of your weekend I’m sure! Below is one of mine:-)