Monday, February 3, 2020

Recommended Books by Text Structure

Back in October, I shared book lists with examples of two underappreciated text structures—list books and Q & A. To start off the new year, at the request of my friend Annette Whipple, I’m providing updated examples of expository nonfiction books with the five major text structures espoused by most state ELA standards—description, sequence, compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem-solution. I hope you find them useful.

The Frog Book by Steve Jenkins

Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies

Bonkers About Beetles by Davey Owen

A Hundred Million Billion Stars by Seth Fishman
Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

Compare & Contrast
Big & Little by Steve Jenkins

Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor

Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds & Me by Susan L. Roth

Rodent Rascals by Roxie Munro

Cause & Effect
Earth: Feeling the Heat by Brenda Z. Guiberson

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams

If You Hopped Like a Frog by David M. Schwartz

Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember by Steve Jenkins

Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs by Kathleen Kudlinksi

The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins by Sandra Markle

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton

And here is a handy dandy chart of these mentor texts along with basic information about each text structure created by rockstar middle school librarian Melanie Roy (@mrsmelanieroy). A large, printable version is available here on my pinterest boards.

As you read through these book titles, you may have noticed that one author—Steve Jenkins—has a book included in each of the categories. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a master of text structure.

Most of Jenkins’s books are about animals and all the cool ways they survive in the world. The consistency of the art gives the books a unified look that immediately lets you know he’s the creator. And yet every book is distinctive because he’s constantly experimenting with nonfiction craft elements, especially text structure.

Some schools already do author studies of Steve Jenkins, but I think every school should study his titles closely as students learn to identify text structures in the books they read and integrate text structures into their writing.


  1. Fabulous posting Melissa. As a teacher-librarian having suggestions by text structure like this is a way to support classroom instruction. Ditto the Steve Jenkins author-study suggestion.

  2. I love how you ask for feedback! Thanks so much for growing our reading and mentor text lists. :) I appreciate it...and the shout out!

  3. This is great! Thanks for the resource!

  4. I’m starting to see how really focusing on text structure makes a more vivid and compelling song. I never gave it much thought, and all was well, but after working with wordsmiths, every word choice and the flow are now examined and revised by me. You guys caused me a lot of extra work, but I’m grateful and growing. ✌🏼🎶🎨📚😊