There are so many benefits to reading mentor text in your classroom. Reading aloud helps develop positive reading habits, exposes children to advanced vocabulary, demonstrates fluency, models reading with voice and inflection, creates lifelong readers in your students, and more! Using mentor text in your classroom can be a great addition to any lesson. While many may feel that picture books are for primary classrooms, upper elementary students also reap many benefits from picture books. Gathering students on the carpet to read aloud and share favorite books helps students develop a love for reading and allows you to use texts as an anchor for the important skills you are teaching.
And guess what? Your students will love to sit and listen to picture books too. It sometimes feels like there is so much packed into one day, and we expect so much of our students; sitting down to read a good picture book always brings forth amazing conversations and feelings.
What is a mentor text?
Mentor texts are anchor texts that are used as an example for students. Students use the mentor text to help impact their own learning. The mentor text can be read during a mini-lesson to help students learn about the skill they are focusing on. A mentor text provides students with an example of the standard or skill you are working on and sets expectations for their own learning. Mentor text can model genres of writing, grammar skills, conventions of writing, and other writing skills. Mentor text can also provide students examples of important reading skills like inferences, cause and effect, characters, and more. It can be a short text, a teacher or a student example, a picture book, or an excerpt of a longer text.
5 Reasons to Use Mentor Text
1. You can choose a book based on the skill you are teaching.
There are so many books that relate to the skills you are teaching across all subject areas. It's sometimes hard to choose just one! You can find a book that relates to the skills you are teaching and show the skill in action. You can use the same books for many skills, reviewing the story or just revisiting one that you've already read. Invite guest readers to read and share favorite books, have students share their favorite books, or share your own…all while engaging students and targeting the skill you are working on.
2. You can model your thinking as you read the text.
As you read aloud, you can also think aloud to model and guide students. When you think aloud, you are helping students notice the skills and how they are used in the text. As you think aloud, you are modeling how the mentor text is an anchor to the skill that you are focusing on.
While reading a mentor text, think aloud and ask:
•Why did the author write this text?
•How can this help me?
•Can I try this?
•Have I read another book like this?
•What works for the author?
•What do I notice about the author’s craft?
•How can I apply this to my learning?
3. Using mentor text allows students to listen to the skills in action.
There is no better model than sharing books that students love and that they can relate to. Students are able to connect to books and also see and hear the focused skill in action. When they are engaged in a text, they can remember the specific parts and the skills that relate to them. You can apply a focused reading or writing skill to the book you are reading. There are so many skills within books, you can use the same books over and over again to focus on different teaching moments.
4. You can target specific skills in the text.
Picture books are FILLED with skills to discuss with your students. As you read, you can target and discuss those skills to help students focus on the topic at hand. You can target and retarget those skills when students are engaged and immersed in the text. You can use the same book to model more than one skill in action. The stories that are told and the skills that are modeled within a text leave a big impact on your students.
5. Mentor texts are engaging.
Mentor texts are engaging for students because they are usually short, colorful, and have fun pictures. Students of any age enjoy listening to a good book. Students remain engaged while you are reading aloud, but also learn important life skills such as empathy, compassion, and inclusion. You can choose books based on students' interests and include books that feature a variety of characters that students can relate to. All while you are focusing on a specific skill!
Mentor texts are such an effective way to inspire students’ learning. They become immersed in the books through your expression, the pictures, and the stories. They can then use those feelings as they read and write on their own.
I have put together a list of suggested mentor texts, just for you. This list has more than 100 suggested texts that I love, and I know you will love to use them in your classroom for different skills and classroom themes…and the best part is that all of the skills are listed for you!
You can check out some of my favorite resources that focus on specific skills while using mentor text:
My Amazon Shop features all of my favorite mentor texts, all separated by skills, subject areas, and monthly themes:
I hope you've found some inspiration and new ideas for using mentor texts in your classroom!