Using picture books as mentor texts in your classroom can be an extremely effective tool for modeling the traits of writing. The following books demonstrate the power of voice in writing, as they represent a variety of voices — from bossy and obnoxious to kind and gentle. You will find the books on this list helpful when teaching lessons about voice, a very important trait often found in good writing.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
When her class decides to do Peter Pan, Grace wants to play Peter. With the support of her family, Grace learns that she can be anything she wants to be. Grace's courage and determination make this a great text for students to use as a model of strong voice and emotion.
A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
A little girl is so concerned with everyone's opinion of her that she stops being herself and instead becomes whatever anyone calls her.
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is "absolutely perfect" until she is teased about it at school. The expressive pictures and the cruel behavior of the kids at school make this story one to read to your students when teaching them to identify authentic voice in a text.
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
This story is a favorite for so many students! Lilly absolutely loves school and her teacher, until he takes away her musical purse because she can't stop playing with it in class. Lilly's emotions and feelings are very expressive and make for a great book to use for teaching students to add more voice to their own stories!
The Memory String by Eve Bunting
This touching story depicts a young girl's struggle to accept her dad's new girlfriend years after the death of her mom. The girl's struggle to hold on to the memory of her late mother while also learning to accept a new woman in her dad's life provides students with an example of a story written with strong voice and emotion.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Great-aunt Alice Rumphius goes to faraway places just as she dreamed she would when she was a girl.
My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco
This is a classic story of the love-hate relationship between a brother and his younger sister. The young girl's strong voice in his story makes it a great mentor text for writing lessons.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
A beautiful princess’s fiancÃ© is kidnapped by a dragon. The princess outsmarts the dragon, but discovers that her prince charming may not be worth rescuing.
Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
A little red-headed girl experiences thirteen different moods, including silliness.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Provides a twist on the original story of The Three Little Pigs. In this version, the wolf is merely an innocent victim of circumstance.
6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide by Ruth Culham
This book provides teachers with information on the seven essential traits of good writing including ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. With this book, teachers will learn how to assess student work for these traits and plan instruction.
40 Reproducible Forms for the Writing Traits Classroom by Ruth Culham
This outstanding resource provides checklists, graphic organizers, rubrics, and scoring sheets, to help boost students' writing skills in all seven traits!
Teaching the Craft of Writing by Lola Schaefer
You will find lessons and practical strategies in this book that will help your students identify voice in writing and learn how to include it in their own work. Students find their voices through quick-writes, author studies, guided revision practice, compare-and-contrast exercises, and more.