Supplementing Writing Lessons with Picture Books

I am a firm believer that students learn best by example. In our WriteSteps K-5 Common Core program, we provide teachers with real student t writing samples demonstrating the different writing topics students learn. We include low, medium and high quality samples so students can see all levels of works.

Picture books can also be a great way to demonstrate a specific writing skill to your students. If you are looking to supplement your writing lessons, in addition to the student writing samples provided in our daily lesson plans, here are some good suggestions.

Below you will find five examples of picture books and how they can be used as mentor texts when teaching a particular writing skill to your K-5 students.

A Mentor Text for Opinion
The Cat in the Hat
By Dr. Seuss

Cat In The Hat


Teachers can create a T-chart to record the cat’s opinion and the fish’s opinion. After you have completed this, ask students to write their thoughts supporting one of the opinions using facts from the story.

A Mentor text for Describing Relationships
Little Bear
By Else Minarik
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Little Bear


Have your students describe the relationship between the key events of the overall story to the corresponding scenes that are illustrated.

A Mentor text for the use of Descriptive Words
Roller Coaster
By Marla Frazee

Roller Coaster


Students can use learn from some of the descriptive words in this book and then write a short story incorporating some of the new vocabulary they have learned.

A Mentor text for teaching Transitions
The Tiny Seed
By Eric Carle

The Tiny Seed


This book is recommended by author Lisa Morris (Awakening Brilliance in the Writer’s Workshop) for teaching transitions. While reading the book, point out the transitions to your students and have them write these on a chart. Once this is finished, students should come up with their own transition examples and add those to the chart.

A Mentor Text for Personal Narrative
How to Write Your Life Story
By Ralph Fletcher



This book helps students learn to write narratives from their own personal experiences. Fletcher uses his own life story to share ideas and activities for students to develop strong writing skills.

A fun class project would be to have your students design a picture book demonstrating a specific writing skill, related to the Common Core, and then have them teach this particular skill to your class sharing the book they created.

As American Author Robert Cormier said, “The beautiful part about writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time,” and this holds true to what we teach students in our WriteSteps program. Our student writing samples show there is always room for growth and improvement in writing and that you don’t have to get it perfect right off the bat. WriteSteps inspires students and helps shape them into confident writers.

For all of you teachers out there-do you have any favorite mentor texts you use when teaching a particular writing skill? Please comment on when and why you use a particular book. I would love to hear your suggestions and learn what you use in your classrooms!

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