Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Behind the Books: More about Mentor Texts

A few days ago, as I was proofreading a report my husband had written for work, I looked past all the technical jargon and started to think about how it was structured. (What can I say. I’m obsessed with structure.) Like many expository nonfiction book for kids, it had lots of subheads. It also had quite a few bulleted lists.

As I read through those bulleted lists, a strange thought occured me. They had a lot in common with the tidbits of text featured in The Guinness Book of World Records, The Time for Kids Big Book of Why, and Eyewitness Books. Marc Aronson and his Uncommon Corps colleagues call these data books. I call them fast-fact books.

Okay, I admit it, the content in my husband’s report wasn’t nearly as interesting as a Guinness title, but the connection was clear to me. And then lightning struck. Fast-fact books would make great mentor texts for students learning to write business-style reports. Making bits of information as concise and interesting as possible is an important skill for all students to develop. I’d love to see what happens when students give it a try.

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