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15 of the Best Mentor Texts for Launching Writing Workshop

Want to know the key to successfully launching writing workshop in kindergarten, first, and second grade? Mentor texts! Mentor texts are such a valuable tool for helping young, and oftentimes reluctant writers, get excited about writing. I am thrilled to share fifteen of my favorite mentor texts for launching writing workshop that will leave your beginning writers inspired and motivated to dive into their first writing piece of the school year! Plus, discover how to use these mentor texts for launching writing workshop in your own classroom!

Get students excited about the writing journey they are about to embark on with this complete list of mentor texts for launching writing workshop! These mentor texts for launching writer's workshop will help build writing confidence in your kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students. Integrate any of these writing mentor texts into your writing lessons. These writing workshop mentor texts will help with generating writing ideas, being confident writers and so much more! Grab the list!

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Mentor Texts for Launching Writing Workshop

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Papa cautions the little red chicken against interrupting while he begins reading their bedtime stories. Despite Papa’s warnings, the eager chicken can’t resist interjecting to warn the fairy-tale characters about impending dangers. Papa, exasperated, eventually grants the little chicken the opportunity to tell a story. Now the question arises… will Papa be able to refrain from interrupting?

Interrupting Chicken
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Not only is “Interrupting Chicken” a great mentor text for establishing routines and procedures at the beginning of the school year, it is also one of the best mentor texts for launching writing workshop. After reading the story, we create a whole class anchor of what it looks like to be a speaker and what it looks like to be a listener when orally sharing our stories with one another.

Recommended Resources:

Writing Workshop Presentation Slides for Generating Writing Ideas

Writing Workshop Presentation Slides for Generating Writing Ideas

Spelling Strategies Presentation for Writing Workshop

Spelling Strategies Presentation for Writing Workshop

Writing Workshop Presentation for How to Write a Sentence

Writing Workshop Presentation for How to Write a Sentence

Especially in kindergarten, I like to spend the first few days solely sharing stories orally with a peer to really build up the students’ confidence. Once we have defined the roles of the speaker and listener on our anchor chart, we spend lots of time role-playing the action of taking turns as the speaker and listener by using a yellow squish ball. These yellow squish balls serve as a visual reminder of each student’s role. Whoever has the yellow ball is the speaker and whoever does not have the ball is the listener.

After each day’s writing workshop mini lesson, the students orally rehearse their story as they share it with a partner. Then, they head back to their seats to draw their story. Allotting time to orally rehearsing the students’ stories, really helps cut down on the number of students who are reluctant to write because they do not know what to write about in their story.

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

Daisy’s heartbreak over her favorite ball being destroyed by a larger dog resonates with any child who has experienced the pain of a beloved toy breaking. “A Ball for Daisy” is told solely through illustrations, demonstrating to young writers that words don’t always need to come into play.

This is another one of those mentor texts for launching writing workshop that I like to introduce within the first week or two. After practicing our stories orally with a buddy, I like to have students tell their story in pictures without even thinking twice about the words. For many reluctant writers, the thought of needing to write words can feel overwhelming. Just using pictures is a great way to break the ice and get students excited about writing workshop.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

The story begins with a bunny who has a box. When others inquire about the box, the bunny consistently responds that it’s “not a box.” Despite the box being a simple object, the bunny transforms it into various imaginative and playful scenarios. The illustrations depict the box becoming a race car, a mountain, a robot costume, and other inventive creations.

Not a Box
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As with the following mentor texts for launching writing workshop, we use this mentor text as we begin to draw our stories with pictures. From the illustrations, the students can easily see how they can use basic shapes to create the objects in their pictures. Oftentimes, students are reluctant to draw because they think they do not know how to draw the object. By spending some time on creating various objects from simple shapes, the students become more confident to take risks and draw new-to-them illustrations.

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

Similar to “Not a Box,” “Not a Stick,” takes readers on a journey of proving that a stick is not always just a stick. This is another wonderful mentor text for evoking imagination. Both books are great mentor texts for launching writing workshop, but they can also be used in other writing units including your opinion writing unit and personal narrative writing unit.

Not a Stick
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“Not a Box” and “Not a Stick” are two mentor texts for launching writing workshop that help demonstrate the power pictures have in telling a story.

The Dot by Peter Reynolds

Vashti, a young girl, believes she cannot draw. When her teacher encourages her to simply make a mark and see where it takes her, Vashti begrudgingly draws a small dot. However, her teacher sees potential in the dot and asks Vashti to sign it. Encouraged by this small act, Vashti decides to experiment with different ways of making dots and discovers her own artistic style. Eventually, Vashti’s confidence in her ability to create grows, and she learns that even a simple dot can lead to incredible artistic expression.

The Dot
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In the beginning stages of our writing journey, we spend a lot of time drawing our stories. “The Dot” is a great reminder that pictures can tell a story just as much as words can.

Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon

Ralph’s days are typically uneventful, leaving him devoid of story ideas when it’s time to write. Faced with blank pages and a lack of inspiration, he gazes at his paper and the ceiling in frustration. Fortunately, with the assistance of his classmates, Ralph learns that even the smallest events can form the basis of a compelling story. In this story, students realize that writing can in fact be fun and enjoyable, making “Ralph Tells a Story” one of my students’ favorite mentor texts for launching writing workshop.

Ralph Tells a Story
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After reading “Ralph Tells a Story,” we create a whole class anchor chart which highlights the same writing process Ralph went through… from laying under his desk thinking of an idea and picturing his story to saying it out loud and writing it on paper.

First, we write and illustrate these steps on our anchor chart:

  1. Think
  2. Picture
  3. Say
  4. Write
  5. Share

Then, we create hand motions (along with the visual cues on the anchor chart) to help us better remember each step. This extension lesson really helps beginning writers to visually see the steps in the writing process.

We also use this writing workshop mentor text to create an anchor chart about generating ideas for our stories. For this anchor chart, I draw a large heart on red bulletin board paper. Together, we add story ideas that come from the heart.

Idea Jar by Adam Lehrhaupt

In “Idea Jar,” readers are introduced to a teacher’s extraordinary idea jar, where students store their imaginative story concepts. From Vikings to space robots to colossal dragons, the jar holds a treasure trove of ideas waiting to be explored. But beware when these ideas break free—they might stir up some mischief!

Idea Jar
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Both “Ralph Tells a Story” and “Idea Jar” are great mentor texts for launching writing workshop, as they are perfect for helping reluctant writers generate ideas. After reading this text, we create a whole class anchor chart (in the shape of a jar) of story ideas that students can reference as often as they need. As an extension, I also like to have students create a personal list of story ideas that they can use as a springboard when they are feeling stuck about what to write.

A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen

A young boy aspires to write a story like his older sister, but he faces a dilemma: he confesses to her that while he knows his letters, he lacks a vast vocabulary. His sister offers patient guidance, suggesting he start with a single letter. Taking her advice, the boy begins with the letter “I”. From this humble beginning, his story blossoms, revealing to the boy that he, like everyone else, possesses the tools to craft their own unique narrative.

A Squiggly Story
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“A Squiggly Story” is one of the most empowering mentor texts for launching writing workshop for students that are just in the beginning stages of learning to label their picture with letters and words. We talk a lot about the fact that a story is more than just words and to not compare their story to a friends.

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

Of all the mentor texts for launching writing workshop, “Rocket Writes a Story” is always a classroom favorite. Rocket adores books and dreams of crafting his own, yet struggles to conjure a story idea. With gentle encouragement from a cheery yellow bird, he embarks on a quest to observe his surroundings more closely. Along this journey, Rocket encounters previously unnoticed details, befriends a shy baby owl, and ultimately finds inspiration for his tale.

Rocket Writes a Story
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After reading this writing workshop mentor text, we create a list of words we know just like Rocket does. We also talk about using our sound/word wall and how this tool can help us as writers when we feel stuck on a particular word.

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell

Little Louie finds himself frustrated as his story repeatedly gets messed up, leaving him discontent. He questions the purpose of sharing his tale if it cannot be conveyed flawlessly. However, upon pausing to take a deep breath, he comes to the realization that despite its imperfections, his story is still meaningful and worthwhile.

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story
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Like the above mentor texts for launching writing workshop, I like to pull out “A Perfectly Messed-Up Story” to remind them of Little Louie’s perseverance when students become frustrated in the early stages of writing a story.

The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli

The library hosts a contest for the finest story. But, what truly defines the best story? According to the narrator’s brother Tim, it’s all about action-packed adventures. Her father insists humor reigns supreme, while Aunt Jane argues tear-jerkers steal the spotlight. However, a story encompassing all these elements feels off-kilter. Amidst differing opinions, the family unanimously agrees: the best story is one that authentically reflects oneself.

The Best Story
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Of all the mentor texts for launching writing workshop, “The Best Story” is great for helping students discover the power of one’s unique voice. I use this book to show students that they do in fact have ideas of things to write about. Similar to the “Idea Jar” extension lesson, I like to use this book to generate a list of ideas we can write about.

How to Write a Story by Kate Messner

This books leads young storytellers through the exhilarating and sometimes daunting stages of writing. From sparking an idea to crafting a problem for their characters to solve, and finally reaching The End, “How to Write a Story,” simplifies the writing process in a vibrant and approachable manner. This is one of those mentor texts for launching writing workshop that does a great job at urging children to embrace their creativity, inspiring them to not only explore their own narratives but also to share their stories with others.

How to Write a Story
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After reading “How to Write a Story,” we work together to create a whole class story using the same steps that were used in this mentor text. First, we choose an idea for our story. Next, we decide on a setting. After that, we create a problem for the character to resolve; and then finally, we create an ending.

Look! I Wrote a Book (And You Can Too!) by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The spirited and know-it-all narrator of “Look! I Wrote a Book (And You Can Too!)” guides students through the entire writing process. From selecting a topic to crafting a story that keeps readers engaged, and even to strategies for selling your book, this book has it all. This is another one of those mentor texts for launching writing workshop that I keep handy when students are feeling down about their writing piece.

Similar to “How to Write a Story,” I like to use this writing workshop mentor text for emphasizing the steps of the writing process.

What Do Authors and Illustrators Do? by Eileen Christelow 

In “What Do Authors and Illustrators Do?,” readers witness the journey of an idea as it transforms into a complete book, depicted in vibrant watercolors and comic book-style frames. With engaging exercises in creative writing and drawing included, beginning writers and artists are encouraged to explore their own creative processes and bring their imaginative ideas to fruition.

Since “What Do Authors and Illustrators Do?” is a double book, it’s like two mentor texts for launching writing workshop in one! I use this text to remind students that they are both the author and the illustrator of the stories they create. We make a T-Chart highlighting what it means to be an author and what it means to be an illustrator.

One Day, The End by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

The storyteller, a girl brimming with imagination and longing for excitement, begins her tale with a seemingly mundane day: “One day… I went to school. I came home. The end.” However, the illustrations unveil a whirlwind of mishaps on her journey to school, culminating in an unexpectedly joyful conclusion. Through inventive storytelling, each picture reveals multiple amusing storylines, leading to the narrator’s ultimate aspiration: “One day… I wanted to write a book.”

After many weeks, if not months, of writing, I like to introduce “One Day, The End” to help students write strong endings. We talk about how boring it can be to read “the end,” at the end of someone’s story and then we generate a list of alternative closings.

Mentor Texts for Launching Writing Workshop Activities

Generating Ideas Presentation

After reading some of the mentor texts for launching writing workshop, use this presentation to help students generate ideas.

Writing Workshop Presentation Slides for Generating Writing Ideas

How to Write a Sentence Presentation

This “How to Write a Sentence” presentation guides students as they write a story using complete sentences. These 5 daily slide shows can be paired with any of these mentor texts for launching writing workshop.

Writing Workshop Presentation for How to Write a Sentence

How to Write Words Presentation

Just like the characters in many of these mentor texts for launching writing workshop, a lot of reluctant writer’s get caught up in spelling words correctly. This “How to Write Words” presentation helps guide students as they begin to form sentences with words that they might not know how to spell just yet.

Spelling Strategies Presentation for Writing Workshop

More Writing Mentor Texts

Discover a full list of mentor texts for teaching personal narratives here!

Help students generate ideas and zoom in on one small moment with this complete list of personal narrative mentor texts for kindergarten! This list of mentor texts for personal narratives are great for generating story ideas and adding details to small moment stories. Use these writing mentor texts within your writing lesson plans. Refer back to these writing workshop mentor texts throughout the personal narrative writing process. Learn about my favorite personal narrative activities now!

Find a complete list of how-to writing mentor texts for your procedural writing unit here!

Boost engagement and help students better understand procedural writing with these 15 how-to writing mentor texts for kindergarten and first grade! These procedural writing mentor texts help students understand sequential writing as well as transition words for their how-to writing pieces. Use these how-to mentor texts for your writing mini lessons and allow students to use them as a model as they work on their own informational writing. You will also find how-to writing activities & crafts!

You will also want to check out these opinion writing mentor texts for your opinion writing unit!

Opinion writing can be a bit of a struggle for kindergarten and first grade students, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 20 opinion writing mentor texts that will help students construct their opinion writing or persuasive writing piece. These mentor texts for opinion writing include The Day The Crayons Quit, Red is Best, and Hey, Little Ant. Plus, find opinion writing activities, including The Day The Crayons Quit activity and craft. Read these opinion writing books today!

Explore all 20 informational writing mentor texts here!

Help students better understand the informational writing process with these informational writing mentor texts, authors and series! This comprehensive list of mentor texts for informational writing will help build confident writers as they dive into writing their own informational writing piece or all about writing piece. These writing mentor texts are filled with nonfiction text features. Use these as part of your writing mini lessons or independent writing activities during writing workshop!

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Get students excited about the writing journey they are about to embark on with this complete list of mentor texts for launching writing workshop! These mentor texts for launching writer's workshop will help build writing confidence in your kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students. Integrate any of these writing mentor texts into your writing lessons. These writing workshop mentor texts will help with generating writing ideas, being confident writers and so much more! Grab the list!
Get students excited about the writing journey they are about to embark on with this complete list of mentor texts for launching writing workshop! These mentor texts for launching writer's workshop will help build writing confidence in your kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students. Integrate any of these writing mentor texts into your writing lessons. These writing workshop mentor texts will help with generating writing ideas, being confident writers and so much more! Grab the list!
Ashley Sharp Pos Bio Image

Ashley Sharp

As a dedicated Kindergarten teacher for nearly 20 years, I believe the words “fun, play, and creativity” can sit right alongside the words “developmentally appropriate, engaging, and rigorous.” Learning is meant to be fun and messy!

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