Using Literature to Spark Ideas

Nov 6, 2008 by


Reading a quality picture book is a great way to inspire young writers, even the most reluctant ones. Try reading aloud one of the listed mentor texts before writer’s notebook time. Invite students to explore a topic from the book in their own writing. For example, read the book Bedhead by Margie Palatini. Explain that many of us have good “hair” stories. I like to start by telling or writing about an example of my own. I tell them that when my brother was young, people often thought he was a girl because he had longish curly hair and long, dark eyelashes. One day in 4th grade he cut his eyelashes off because he was tired of being made fun of. After sharing a personal story, have students write the word “hair” at the top of a clean notebook page and begin writing, allowing the topic to take them in any direction.

“By allowing students to share their personal connections to read aloud in whole-group discussions, we create a reservoir of new meaning from which our students can discover topics to write about.” from Mentor Texts by Dorfman and Cappelli, 2007



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