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Launching Writing Workshop: 8 Favorite Mentor Text for Writing Routines

Launching writing workshop is all about setting up routines. Walking students through the writing process, setting expectations, and setting goals for writing before even beginning to write will ensure that your workshop will run smoothly. 

As you launch your writing workshop, slowly give students more and more independence, building their writing stamina and understanding of the writing process…and then right before your eyes, your students have turned into writers with a workshop that produces thoughtfully focused writing.

The predictability of a workshop model allows you to cater to the needs and goals of your students.  When your students have a consistent routine of writing each day, you are allowing them to become active writers; creating their own text.  Your students will acquire writing skills, build writing fluency, and develop pride in their finished work.

Setting up routines for your workshop can be fun, and meaningful when you share some of your favorite picture books. Here are eight of my very favorite books to help launch writing workshop.

1. You Have to Write by Janet Wong

“You Have to Write” is such a fun book to get students talking about what to write. It is a great time to talk about writing inspiration and make a list of ideas to write about. This allows you to get to know your students as writers as well as individuals. You can get to know their likes, dislikes, hobbies, strengths, and areas they would like to grow.

Reading this book and creating a list of ideas to write about will help students throughout the year as they run into “writer's block” or when they are looking for ideas to write.

2. There by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick

There” is my favorite book to read when talking about goal setting with students. You can use it for so many different goal-setting conversations and writing goals while launching writing workshop is a great opportunity to share this goal-setting favorite.

You can discuss writing behavior goals and writing strategy goals and how students can set realistic goals to meet throughout the year.

Reaching goals is also worth celebrating, so make sure to celebrate when you get “there.” As writers we are always trying to become better and setting goals helps keep us focused as writers.

3. The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli

“The Best Story” really is the best story to read to introduce prewriting and coming up with ideas to your students. You can discuss with your students how the narrator sits down, organizes her thoughts, and thinks of her own ideas. 

While we use mentor text to help guide our writing and give us ideas for the genre we are working on, we have to take from our own hearts and minds to create a unique piece of writing and prewriting helps us organize and gather our thoughts. 

4. What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada

“What Do You Do With An Idea” is such a great book to talk about ideas and putting your ideas down on paper. It gives you the opportunity to discuss developing and working on ideas to make them come to life as a story.  Drafting should take time and just like in the book, your writing will grow and develop and you need to take the time to care for it and give it the attention it deserves.

5. What Do Authors Do? by Eileen Christelow

I just love to read “What Do Authors Do?” while introducing the writing process.  It really shows students how writers revisit, change, and work to make their writing better.  Revising is one of the most important parts of the writing process because it gives writers a chance to look closer at their writing and decide how to make it better by making changes.

6. Author: A True Story by Helen Lester

“Author: A True Story” shows the writing process and can help you discuss how editing is such an important part of writing.  Sharing this mentor text allows you to discuss how revising and editing are both important parts of the writing process yet are still very different.

7. A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery

“A Squiggly Story” is such a cute story! It's a great book to read to help you introduce writing conferences to your students.  Meeting with others and talking about your writing is such an important part of the writing process.  Another set of eyes on your writing will help you improve your writing. 

8. If You Were a Writer by Joan Lowery Nixon

“If You Were a Writer” allows you to show students how they can take their writing from an idea to a finished piece of writing.  Discuss the hard work of the writing process and the reward you feel when you finally publish your writing. 

Launching writing workshop is such an exciting time. It is a lot of work to learn new routines and create lasting habits, but once you get there, you'll know it was all worth it. A well-run workshop is worth all of the efforts from you and your students.

If you'd like a 10-day planning calendar to help you get started launching writing workshop, you can subscribe below to receive it right to your inbox.

You can read more of my favorite writing workshop tips and lessons in THESE POSTS.

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Happy Writing!!

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