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Five Must-Read Mentor Texts for Teaching Persuasive Writing

Are you ready for your students to write persuasive essays with ease? Teaching persuasive writing is such an important skill for elementary students. It can be used in so many different situations, from getting a new toy to convincing your parents to let you stay up late. In order to help your students become better persuasive writers, it is important to expose them to good books that model the techniques of persuasive writing. Let's take a look at 5 must-read books for elementary students who are working on persuasive writing skills. These books will give students the tools they need to master the art of persuasion. Your students will learn how to craft an argument, back up their points with evidence, and appeal to their readers' emotions.

5 must read books for teaching persuasive writing

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail

“One Word from Sophia” is a wonderful text to share with students as you are teaching persuasive writing because Sophia is very convincing. She tries to convince her mother, father, Uncle Conrad, and Grand-mama that she should have a giraffe. Sophia presents convincing arguments that are trying to persuade her family without being argumentative.

one word from sophia book and lesson plan for writing

This mentor text gives the opportunity to discuss the difference between persuasive and opinion writing. The major difference between persuasive and opinion writing is that persuasive writing is based on facts, while opinion writing is based on personal beliefs. In persuasive writing, the writer presents evidence to support their argument, while in opinion writing, the writer simply shares their thoughts and feelings. Sharing the story of Sophia is a great way to help students recognize the power of persuasive writing.

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Earrings by Judith Viorst

The narrator in “Earrings” considers WHY her parents always say no to getting her ears pierced before she forms her arguments. This is a great way to discuss how persuasive writers should consider both sides of the argument before developing their own persuasive reasons.

student writing in notebook

One way to strengthen a persuasive argument is to anticipate and address potential objections. By addressing objections, the writer can show that they have considered all possible angles and that their argument is well-thought-out.

Earrings book and writing flipbook for forming arguments

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

As you read “The Great Kapok Tree” you can discuss how each animal has a clear reason that the Great Kapok tree should not be cut down. The animals have clear reasons that they give with support and evidence. This can help students realize how they must organize their own ideas so that their point of view is clear and so that their arguments are focused.

Having a clear and focused argument that is persuasive to readers:

  • Helps you anticipate and address objections
  • Makes your argument well-thought-out
The great kapok tree book with writer's notebook for organizing ideas

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus by Mo Willems

The pigeon is quite demanding in “Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and the way that the author uses capital letters give the reader the impression that the pigeon is even screaming at times. This can help students realize that the tone of their writing matters! When writing persuasive essays, students must consider the tone and mood that come across in their writing…and try not to be quite as demanding in their reasoning as the pigeon!

don't let the pigeon drive the bus book and writers notebook

When you consider the tone in your persuasive writing:

  • It helps you sound persuasive and in control
  • Shows your readers that you've considered their objections
  • Makes your argument look well-thought-out
  • Comes across as a strong and credible writer
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Hey Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose

“Hey, Little Ant” is a great book that shows how to persuade with kindness and compassion while truly trying to consider the other side of the argument and that person or group's feelings. It is a funny and thought-provoking book that will keep your students thinking about their own persuasive arguments.

Hey little ant book and persuasive writing materials

When you're trying to persuade someone, you're trying to convince them that your opinion is the right one. You want them to see things the way that you do, and agree with your point of view. Persuasive writing can be a very powerful tool because it can change people's minds and opinions. When you're able to persuade someone successfully, you know that you've considered each side of the argument and the objections and you've earned their trust as a credible source.

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writer's notebook with persuasive writing checklist and goal setting

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