Nothing makes a teacher’s heart sing like when a student lands on a perfect topic, or captures a moment with just the right phrase in their personal narrative writing. Studying fantastic mentor texts exposes students to examples that elevate their work. To expand your collection of personal narrative mentor texts, consider these fresh choices:
Summer Supper by Ruben Pfeffer, illustrated by Mike Austin
E BON NEW BOOK
Reminiscing about recent experiences is often the first step for young writers to craft effective personal narrative pieces. Seasonal titles that portray activities to which students are likely to connect, like planting a garden then cooking and eating with family can spark ideas that get pencils moving. Presenting attainable models is so important for giving students confidence in their writing abilities. This title uses minimal language and communicates much of the narrative via the illustrations, making it a useful example for brand-new writers.
New Shoes by Chris Raschka
E RAS NEW BOOK
With sweet simplicity, this text chronicles a classic rite of childhood: getting new shoes! Use this story to demonstrate choosing one event to write about in detail. Even the illustrations are focused, with their knees-down, shoes-only view, and the narrator describes the holes in his old sneakers and the new choices with childish accuracy. (“They are a little pinchy right there.”) This story also shows how to incorporate inner monologue and emotion in manageable ways. (“How about these?” the narrator wonders. “Comfy! I like them! I want to show Emma!”)
Grandma's Purse by Vanessa Newton-Bradley
Time spent with favorite people is a great source of inspiration for students’ personal narratives; this energetic text shows students how to describe a character and hone in on one memorable shared experience. The young narrator waits eagerly for Grandma Mimi to arrive with her purse full of treasures. On this special visit, it even contains a present! Use this story as an example of how students can write more about one important topic.
The Field by Baptiste Paul
E PAU NEW BOOK
With shouts in both English and Creole, island children enjoy an exuberant game of soccer. A sudden rainstorm gives them pause, but they decide to kick off their shoes and “Play on!” in the mud. This text shows students how even just a few brief sentences per page can still pack exquisite detail. (“Uh-oh. Shutters bang. Sun hides. Clay dust stings. Sky falls.”) They can also examine the vibrant illustrations to notice how pictures can add depth to a story, right down to the mouths open in jubilant yells and the tongues sticking out to catch raindrops.
Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe by Katey Howes, illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti
Magnolia Mudd loves inventing crazy “Mudd-powered” contraptions with her Uncle Jamie. She’s skeptical when he asks her to be the flower girl in his wedding, so he challenges her to define a more appealing role. She tackles the task with gusto, her voice shining throughout thanks to the author’s use of punctuation, bolded words, and exact language. Chart examples of exclamation marks, ellipses, and catchy lines such as “I hooked our leaf blower to a jug of paint, added a hose and nozzle, whipped up some super-cool stencils, and took my creation for a test drive,” to give students ideas for adding plenty of Mudd-powered panache to their own writing.