How to Select Perfect Mentor Texts That Transform Young Readers and Writers

When you’re a children’s literature fanatic, like I am, you surround yourself with fellow book lovers. Recently, I had the opportunity to collaborate with one of my book buddies, Karen Biggs-Tucker, to present a collection of our favorite titles. Together, we pondered our selection criteria. Carefully selected mentor texts, usually picture books, are an integral part of my literacy instruction. During reading workshop, I think aloud as I read and invite my students to join in the conversation to better comprehend the text. When we read a mentor text with the eye of a writer, we think and talk about craft and structure. In this post, I’ll share four of the characteristics we identified when choosing mentor texts to spark comprehension conversations or notice the writer’s and/or illustrator’s craft techniques.

Engaging Characters

I’m always searching for books with characters that my students can call friends. I want them to be able to relate to the characters’ emotions or actions and think about how it would feel to walk in that person’s (or animal’s) shoes. This not only helps my students comprehend stories, but it also nudges them toward understanding and expressing their own feelings. Together, we study how authors reveal insights into a character and make an anchor chart listing the following ways:

  • Narration
  • Conversation
  • Illustrations
  • Thoughts of the character
  • Thoughts of other characters
  • Actions

(Walther, 2015, p. 116)

Then, we notice and discuss examples during our interactive read alouds. We meet characters like Janine. by Maryann Cocca-Leffler  who is excluded from a party because she is different but, instead of being upset, she throws her own party and invites EVERYONE! We converse about how Janine reacted to the actions of her peers. Then, to gain more insights into the characters, we read the back flap and learn that Maryann wrote this book about her daughter, Janine, who has bravely navigated her life with disabilities.

Rich Language

When children are immersed in texts with rich language, they begin to use that language in their conversations and, eventually, in their writing. An example of such a text is One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck, Illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail. In this story, Sophia desperately wants a pet giraffe and presents her arguments (along with pie charts and graphs) to her family. The author has included a humorous, and informative, glossary at the end of the book leading to further discussion about the wonderful world of words. Introduce you students to Jim and Yasmeen by checking out their websites or following them on Twitter @jimaverbeck  @YasmeenMay.

Intriguing Illustrations

At a recent conference, I had the pleasure of listening to children’s author and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld speak about why he loves creating books for kids. One of his many reasons is that kids are innately skilled at understanding visual storytelling. So, when he’s working on his illustrations he carefully crafts them to create interest, draw the reader into the story, color a mood, add magic, or simply make kids (and adults) laugh. In one of his most recent offerings Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry you can find examples of each of his criteria to notice with your students and discuss how they might do the same in their own illustrations. Then, you can take them to Tom’s website to learn more about his work or send him a note on Twitter @tlichtenheld.

Memorable Themes

At the beginning of the year as we build our literacy community, I select texts that illuminate themes such as accepting differences, working together, or being kind. We discuss how

the theme of a story quietly ties together the characters, setting, and plot and may reveal author’s purpose. Guiding students as they uncover the theme leads to a deeper understanding of the text. Kadir Nelson’s book If You Plant a Seed is a perfect example. In this story, Rabbit and Mouse plant seeds, but their selfishness leads to trouble. They discover that planting a seed of kindness is much sweeter.I pair this text with Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson as we bond with each other and learn how to use kind words and actions.

You might be wondering what else I look for when selecting books. Here are a few more characteristics Karen and I discussed: kid appeal, originality, texts that broaden children’s horizons by opening windows to other times, places, or situations, and those that mirror the diversity we find in our classrooms today. I’d love to hear what you look for as you select books to share with your learners. Join me at ILA and we’ll chat more about this topic!

What the Research Says: The Power of the Read Aloud

Nurturing a love of reading comes naturally when we rely on good research to guide us. On edu@scholastic, we're featuring five important issues related to children's literacy development—and evidence supporting the importance of each one. Today we take on "The Power of the Read Aloud." For more information about the joy and importance of reading, and to download research and lesson plans, be sure to explore our Open a World of Possible homepage.

Parents who model their own love of reading and engage in their children’s reading—who read aloud to them, take them to the library, and talk about favorite books—help their children grow into lifelong readers. What’s more, when parents read aloud to their children during the preschool years, they are more likely to raise children who become avid readers (Scholastic, 2013).

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends that pediatricians encourage parents to read aloud daily, beginning at birth (2014). Dr. Pamela High, lead author of the AAP policy, explains the aim: “… those 15-20 minutes spent reading with a child can be the best part of the day. It’s a joyful way to build child-parent relationships and set a child on the pathway to developing early literacy skills.”

“Reading aloud to your child is a commercial for reading. When you read aloud, you're whetting a child's appetite for reading. … A child who has been read to will want to learn to read herself. She will want to do what she sees her parents doing. But if a child never sees anyone pick up a book, she isn't going to have that desire” (Trelease, 2013). Plus, “children who have an enthusiastic reader as a role model may stay determined to learn to read, even when facing challenges, rather than becoming easily discouraged” (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013).

The read aloud is the gift that keeps on giving—leading to student gains in vocabulary (Beck & McKeown, 2001), comprehension strategies and story schema (Van den Broek, 2001), and concept development (Pinnell & Fountas, 2011).


American Academy of Pediatricians. (2014). Policy Statement. Beck, I. & McKeown, M. (2001). “Text talk: Capturing the benefits of read-aloud experiences for young children.” The Reading Teacher. Vol. 55, No. 1.

Cunningham, A. & Zibulsky, J. (2013). Book smart: How to develop and support successful, motivated readers. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pinnell, G. S. & Fountas, I. (2011). Literacy beginnings: A prekindergarten handbook. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fourth Edition commissioned by Scholastic and conducted by YouGov; 2013.

Trelease, J. (2013). The read-aloud handbook (7th edition). New York: Penguin Books.

What the Research Says: Books in the Home

Nurturing a love of reading comes naturally when we rely on good research to guide us. On edu@scholastic, we're featuring five important issues related to children's literacy development—and evidence supporting the importance of each one. Today we take on "Books in the Home." For more information about the joy and importance of reading, and to download research and lesson plans, be sure to explore our Open a World of Possible homepage.

Children raised in homes with more than 500 books spent three years longer in school than children raised in homes with only a few books. Growing up in a household with 500 or more books is “as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father” (Evans et al., 2010).

Research suggests that children whose parents have lots of books are nearly 20 percent more likely to finish college. Indeed, as a predictor of college graduation, books in the home trump the education of the parents. Even a child who hails from a home with 25 books will, on average, complete two more years of school than would a child from a home without any books at all (Evans et al., 2010).

Regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to a home library helps the children get a little farther in school. The gains are larger for more modest families. Children from families with less gain more in the first few years of school. Moreover, having books in the home has a greater impact on children from the least educated families than children of the university-educated elite (Evans et al., 2010).

In general, the books help establish a reading or “scholarly” culture in the home—one that persists from generation to generation within families, largely independent of education and class—creating a “taste for books” and promoting the skills and knowledge that foster both literacy and numeracy and, thus, lead to lifelong academic advantages (Evans et al., 2010).


Evans, M., Kelley, J., Sikorac, J., & Treimand, D. (2010). “Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 28, 171–197.

The New Right Stuff

Twelve-year-old Erika Hazlett, a Scholastic News Kid Reporter, recently asked physicist Kip Thorne if she would see a lunar or Martian colony in her lifetime.

“The technology is certainly there,” Thorne said. “I do believe that space exploration is crucial for the future of the human race.”

If Thorne is right, many of today’s kids will not just work in careers that we can only imagine. They will live in a place that has neither a lawn nor a sidewalk.

As anthropologist Jack Stuster said at a recent panel discussion at the World Science Festival: "Although Mars commands our attention, the asteroids demand it." 

Stuster, who is the author of Bold Endeavors: Lessons From Polar and Space Exploration, notes that the "right stuff" astronauts of yesteryear—stoic military pilots, all of them men—have given way to individuals, male and female, with an increasingly broad range of skills.

Who will own the future? Experts in psychology, ergonomics, behavioral science, and personnel selection, to name a few specialties. One trait that will unite all of these individuals, Stuster told me, is the ability to get along well with others.

Here are excerpts from our conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.


What qualities does one look for in astronaut candidates?

Originally, astronauts were selected for their piloting skills, which involve quick reactions in emergency situations—in an environment that is inherently risky. That changed over time to include scientists, engineers, and physicians. But all astronauts are still trained to respond promptly to changing conditions and emergency situations.

Individuals selected by NASA today tend to be very action-oriented, whether they’re preparing for a space flight or a year at an Antarctic research station. They’re very active people, both physically and mentally.

However, for long-duration isolation, that’s absolutely the wrong kind of person. When you’re confined to a small habitat, whether it’s in Antarctica, the Arctic, or on a spacecraft bound for Mars, your opportunities for activity are greatly constrained. A person who requires a lot of physical activity—riding a bicycle, going on long hikes, or swimming in the ocean—will be very unhappy when confined to a small habitat.

The irony is that the kind of people who are attracted to such missions often don’t have the right personality or disposition. NASA hasn’t really addressed that yet because missions have been limited to six or seven months on the International Space Station (ISS). This will certainly become an issue when we select people to spend three years traveling to Mars.

Our first one-year experiment is now underway with astronaut Scott Kelly, who will remain on the ISS for just under a year. His mission will be interesting primarily because of our ability to measure the physiological changes that he will undergo and how well efforts to maintain his muscle mass and bone density work during the flight.


Isn't that a long time to be away from home?

No one doubts that Scott will do well psychologically or behaviorally. We have plenty of evidence that humans can endure almost anything in order to be among the first to do it. It’s when things become routine that the tolerance for inconveniences and the lack of amenities is lowered. Scott will do great and so will [Mikhail] Kornienko, his Russian crewmate. Russians have spent a year in space before, and they’ve done fine.

Humans have endured longer durations than that during the polar exploration period. Norwegians Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen survived in the Arctic during the winter of 1895-’96, confined to a 6’- by 10’-foot hut made of stones and walrus hides. Their entire world was illuminated by the pale glow of a blubber lamp. They had nothing to read. They would sleep for 17 hours out of 24, only venturing outside to carve off a chunk of polar bear meat or walrus meat to bring back in and cook. They did that for nine months. Then, in the spring, they burst out of their den, fixed their kayaks, and paddled off, eventually making it back to civilization. Humans have endured very austere conditions for very long periods and performed well. So we don’t expect there to be behavioral problems on a one-year expedition to the ISS.

There are lots of examples of behavioral and psychological problems occurring on polar expeditions of the past. However, those people were not selected with the care that astronauts and cosmonauts are selected.


What benefits do we derive from space exploration?

Many of the things that we take for granted, that keep people alive, were developed for the space program. The miniaturization that led to pacemakers is derived from space technology. Many medical devices that are now routine were originally developed to monitor the physiology of space crews.

Images taken by NASA illustrate geological and climatological trends that are of great interest to us. A NASA administrator was asked recently: “Why are you concerned with Earth?” Well, Earth is in space, for one thing. NASA gains unique insights into possible threats to Earth. The Kennedy Space Center is not going to be of much use to NASA when it’s underwater. According to projected trends, that will eventually be the case.

There are also the intangibles that NASA provides in the way of a vision for the future and the very real issue of our species being limited to one planet. Plenty of evidence points to the potentially devastating impact of objects hitting Earth. This includes everything from relatively small events like the Meteor Crater in Arizona, which affect areas of several hundred or several thousand square miles, to large meteors that threaten all life on Earth.

Each week, astronomers discover new objects that could threaten Earth, either as localized events or extinction-class events. Most of the very large objects are known, but not all of them. Objects the size of a car or a bus are continually being discovered. Because they are relatively small, they only become visible when they are approaching Earth.

Some of these are within the orbits of the Moon. That is, they pass between the Moon and the Earth. On a cosmic scale, that is really a close call. One of these days, an object is going to hit us. There’s a 70 percent chance that it’s going to land in the ocean because the Earth is 70 percent water. That means there’s a 30 percent chance that it’s going to land on solid ground. If it does, it could be very disruptive, especially if it hits a densely-populated area.

I’m very much in favor of President Obama’s plan to learn more about asteroids, to have us visit asteroids as a stepping-stone, no pun intended, to go back to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars. Otherwise we are vulnerable, tied as we are to one world.


What have we learned from the astronauts' experiences on the ISS?

The missions have demonstrated that people from different countries can work together for a common goal under very austere and difficult conditions. Russians, Americans, Japanese, Germans, French, and others have all been represented on the ISS in the past 10 or 15 years. There might be small differences in approach or work habits, but those differences are overcome, and participants get along fabulously. They know that their survival in an emergency situation will depend on each other's prompt and coordinated response.

Almost unanimously, the ISS astronauts cite their number-one goal as getting along with fellow crewmembers. They make a concerted effort to do that, and they're very successful. They're sensitive to each other's feelings and cultural differences. They also have a wonderful perspective on Earth. They can look down from the windows, and they see one planet with no boundaries.

What the Research Says: Reading Self-Selected Books for Fun

Nurturing a love of reading comes naturally when we rely on good research to guide us. On edu@scholastic, we're featuring five important issues related to children's literacy development—and evidence supporting the importance of each one. Today we take on "Reading Self-Selected Books for Fun." For more information about the joy and importance of reading, and to download research and lesson plans, be sure to explore our Open a World of Possible homepage.

The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report: Fifth Edition confirms what we’ve long known: Independent reading, both at school and at home, builds successful readers. What’s more, the research shows that giving students a say in what they read is key. And from our experience, we also know that frequent reading creates proficient readers who thrive personally and academically.

The report adds to the abundant data we’ve had for years that demonstrates that in-school independent reading centered on reading books for fun creates kids who love to read. Seventy-eight percent of children ages 12-17 who are frequent readers (defined by the report as kids who read books for fun five to seven times a week) reported that they have the opportunity to read a book of choice independently during the school day. Only 24 percent of infrequent readers—those reading for fun less than one day a week—say the same. In addition, 91 percent of children ages 6-17 agree that “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.” It’s clear that independent reading programs that invite reading choice and promote reading pleasure give rise to kids who not only read but also, more important, kids who want to read.

Some of the first research linking choice to reading pleasure dates back to the 1970s in a report titled They Love to Read by Dr. John W. Studebaker. The report showed that among kids who chose their own books through Scholastic Book Clubs, the majority read those books from cover-to-cover. Parents reported that their children were “much more likely” to finish reading books they bought for themselves in contrast to books selected for them.

Readers are most engaged with their reading—and derive the most pleasure from it—when they are able to follow their own reading interests and shape their own reading lives, a key finding also of the research conducted by Jeff Wilhelm and Michael Smith, documented in their book Reading Unbound.


Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition commissioned by Scholastic and conducted by YouGov; 2014.
Studebaker, J. (1977). The Love to read: Report on a study of paperback book clubs in classrooms of five cities. New York: Scholastic.
Van den Broek, P., Lynch, J., Nashlund, J., Levers-Landis, C., Verduin, K. (2003). The development of comprehension of main ideas in narratives: Evidence from the selection of titles. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 707-718.
Wilhelm, J. & Smith, M. (2013). Reading unbound: Why kids need to read what they want—and why we should let them. New York: Scholastic.

What the Research Says: Reading Volume

Nurturing a love of reading comes naturally when we rely on good research to guide us. On edu@scholastic, we're featuring five important issues related to children's literacy development—and evidence supporting the importance of each one. Today we take on "Reading Volume." For more information about the joy and importance of reading, and to download research and lesson plans, be sure to explore our Open a World of Possible homepage.

Reading volume is defined as the combination of time students spend reading plus the number of words they actually consume as they read (Allington, 2012). This combination affects everything from students’ cognitive abilities to their vocabulary development and knowledge of the world (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013).

In “one of the most extensive studies of independent reading yet conducted,” Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988) traced reading growth to independent reading and reading volume. They found that the amount of time students spent in independent reading outside of school was the best predictor of reading achievement. This chart reveals the results of the study. Note the number of words students consume during independent reading—and the enormous differences in reading volume between higher- and lower-achieving students. Viewed across a year, we can immediately see the striking differences in reading achievement between the high-volume readers, who read more than an hour outside of school, and those students who avoid reading.

Keep in mind that children spend 900 hours a year in school versus 7,800 hours outside school (Trelease, 2013). Ideally, students are reading both in school and out. The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report: Fifth Edition found that children are more likely to read outside of school if they are reading a book for fun in school. One influences the other, creating a field force of reading energy!


Allington, D. (2012). What really matters for struggling readers: Designing research-based programs. Boston: Pearson.
Anderson, R. C., Wilson P.T., Fielding, L.G. (1988). “Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school.” Reading Research Quarterly, No.23, pp.285-303.
Cunningham, A. & Zibulsky, J. (2013). Book smart: How to develop and support successful, motivated readers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition commissioned by Scholastic and conducted by YouGov; 2014.
Trelease, J. (2013). The read-aloud handbook (Seventh edition). New York: Penguin Group.

State Teachers of the Year: Independent Reading is Extremely Important

How important is independent reading to a child's overall success? How often do teachers dedicate time to independent reading in the classroom?

Earlier this week, we released the results of a survey we fielded last month of the 2015 State Teachers of the Year. Today we have a bit more to share.

We asked a series of questions about independent reading inside and outside of the classroom. Here's what we learned.

1) The teachers almost universally (98 percent) agreed that independent reading is very or extremely important to a child's overall success.

2) Many of them dedicate class time for student independent reading (one-third said they find time every day), but say a "lack of time" is the top barrier to allowing more of it.

3) We asked the teachers to share advice for how they inspire students to read independently outside of the classroom. Here is some of what they shared.

We'd love to hear your ideas as well!

How Do We Make Time for Project-Based Learning?

I talk with many teachers who would like to include project-based learning in their classrooms, but just don’t know how they can fit it in with everything else they are expected to do. I am definitely sympathetic to this—the number and array of demands on school time in the U.S. is unprecedented. At the same time, I hate for students and teachers to miss out on the many motivational and educational benefits of project-based learning. So here are some suggestions for making time for project-based learning:

1) Consider whether a project could address the same standards as an existing unit. Perhaps the next chapter in the social studies text, the next unit of study in English Language Arts, or the next set of science kits could be replaced by or included as part of a project. For example, a project in which students research an endangered animal and write letters to persuade businesses and other organizations to protect them could address Common Core State Standards Writing Standards 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 as well as some standards for Reading Informational Text—this is much more than is typically addressed in a traditional Writers’ Workshop over that same period of time.

2) Take a little bit of time from multiple disciplines. I recently saw a project led by second-grade teacher Eugene Thompson in which students were designing and making water bottle holders to hang on the sides of their flip-top desks so their water bottles wouldn’t roll around, spill, or fall. This project incorporated math (measurement), science (engineering), social studies (they visited a factory and studied how things are made), art (they decorated the water bottle holders), literacy (they wrote how-to texts for other students on how to make them), and various skills related to planning, collaboration, and so on. This teacher could justify taking a little time from each of these disciplines (e.g., 10 minutes from math, 20 minutes from science) that, when put together, provide enough time for the project. One of the benefits of project-based learning is that it often involves multiple disciplines. We can take advantage of that feature when looking for time for PBL.

3) Eliminate classroom activities with little evidence of effectiveness. Consider the yesterday was . . . today is . . . tomorrow will be calendar activity I see in so many classrooms. Ask yourselves, if it’s February, and children are still unclear on what yesterday was, today is, and tomorrow will be, is this an effective activity? And if they are clear, do we still need to do this? Indeed, a great way to make room for project-based learning is to take a hard look at the way each minute in the day is used. In a recent book, Beth Brinkerhoff and Alysia Roehrig suggest looking for “time wasters” that lurk in your classroom. We need to keep a special eye out for practices that have long been used in schools, but actually don’t work very well, at least as far as we can tell from research. For example, giving students a list of vocabulary words and asking them to look them up in the dictionary and/or write a sentence is less effective than any other approach to vocabulary instruction to which it has been compared. Teaching vocabulary in the context of a rich and compelling project, such as one in which students develop brochures about their state to distribute at the state tourism office, in the process learning terms such as climate, landforms, population, crops, landmark, and migration, is likely to be much more effective.

4) Make an argument to administrators. Sometimes you are required to use materials or engage in practices that you believe are less powerful than project-based learning is likely to be. In these situations, consider making an argument to your administrator to forgo the required work for a period of time in favor of a project. You will likely need to demonstrate that the project addresses much of the same content and that you will continue to align with standards and incorporate explicit instruction. You may need to share some research on project based learning as well. If you manage to convince your administrator to allow you to try a project, be sure to invite him or her into your classroom to see the project in action, and share student work samples that demonstrate learning. Before you know it, your administrator may be asking you to do more PBL!

It’s hard work to find time for PBL, but I think you’ll find it’s worth it. My best to you as you experience the power of projects!

We Surveyed the 2015 State Teachers of the Year

How would teachers prioritize education funding? What aspects of their jobs give them the most satisfaction? What qualities do they believe great teachers have? Do teachers believe higher standards like the Common Core will have a positive impact on students?

As we near the end of the 2014-15 school year, Scholastic had the opportunity to survey this year’s group of State Teachers of the Year. The group of inspirational educators were invited to Washington, D.C., by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which runs the National Teacher of the Year program. A yearly tradition, this group of teachers gathers for several days every April in Washington for a series of events including a White House ceremony hosted by President Obama to honor and announce the National Teacher of the Year. This year, that award went to an incredible high school English teacher from Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, TX, named Shanna Peeples.

We knew we could learn so much from this group of teachers and that their opinions represent those of so many others across the country, so with CCSSO’s help, the teachers were emailed an online survey. Forty-six of them responded.

Some clear themes emerged: Teachers see issues like poverty, family stress and other out-of-school barriers to learning greatly affecting student academic success, and they prioritize things like anti-poverty initiatives, early learning and other community supports and services for funding.

Here are highlights of what we learned from these master teachers. (Click on the images for larger versions.)

1) If these teachers could choose where to focus education funding in order to have the highest impact on student learning, their top priorities would be: Anti-poverty initiatives, early learning, reducing barriers to learning (access to wrap-around services, healthcare, etc.), and professional development/learning.

2) When asked in an open-ended question, “What do you feel is your biggest challenge as teacher?” educators most often cited the need for more time to accomplish everything involved in the day-to-day activities of being a teacher.

3) The teachers said they get the highest job satisfaction from time spent working with students in the classroom – whether one-on-one or teaching whole group lessons. They get the least satisfaction from required paperwork, grading student work and preparing student report cards.

4) Asked what barriers to learning most affect their students’ academic success, 76 percent of teachers cited “Family stress,” 63 percent cited “Poverty,” and 52 percent cited “Learning and psychological problems.”

5) What top qualities do they feel make a good teacher?

6) Ninety-six percent (all but two of the teachers who responded) agreed that higher standards being implemented – Common Core or other high standards – will have a positive impact on student learning.

How would you respond to these questions?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook over the course of the next week, and check out our sister blog (On Our Minds), for more quotes, stats and findings from our survey of the 2015 State Teachers of the Year.

What I'm Reading - Ruth Culham

If I try to read at night, I fall asleep and wake up at about 2:00 AM with my glasses askew and the book or journal on the floor. I read on the plane -- which is the best part of flying -- or in my comfortable chair in the living room. But I read. I read all the time. I’m hopelessly addicted and I pray I will never recover.  

Here are a few of the current fiction and nonfiction texts I’ve enjoyed of late.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

This book is dystopian fiction and my favorite genre right now. It’s part of my newly acquired collection of Latino literature: picture books, chapter books, and YA. These books are the core of a new annotated bibliography I’m creating to support Latino students and their teachers in the classroom and beyond.

The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle

With every text, I recognize the importance of readers having books in which they see themselves and that grow our understandings of culture and language. The Lightning Dreamer does exactly that. I dare you to stop reading once you start and raving about it once you finish!

Craft of Revision by Donald Murray

I read a lot of nonfiction as well. The fifth edition of Donald Murray’s Craft of Revision is a must-read, I mean a MUST read for every writing teacher. I have every edition, 1-5. Like I said: addicted. But every time I read any Murray masterpieces, I am gobsmacked by the truth of what’s important about writing: rewriting.

Letters of Note:  An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audiuence, edited by Shaun Usher

I am about two-thirds of the way through this, regularly dipping in and out for joy and amazement.

Open a World of Possible, edited by Lois Bridges

Finally, I recommend to you Open a World of Possible. Begin with any essay, but my not-so-secret favorite is Naomi Shehab Nye’s “I Will Float Through This Day.” Her writing blows me away—sings across the page, transforming my view of life with every phrase.


Subscribe to edu@scholastic RSS