Sometimes, children choose writing topics that are simply too: My Trip to Disneyland, My Weekend, or My Family. And while writers may start off excited about their topic, often the quality of writing becomes less important as they struggle to include every moment and end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. You might call these “biting off more than you can chew” topics! Focusing on “small moments” can help students focus on one event so that they can apply some writing techniques such as “triple scoop words”, “similes“, and “senses” to really expand a smaller moment with lots of details. Using anchor books to show how writers focus on small moments can really help students understand that sometimes less is more. Here are my top ten anchor books for “small moment” writing:
- A Moment in Time – Jennifer Butenas
The perfect book to introduce “small moments”! This rhyming story describes a family of four on summer holiday savoring each joyful, delightful simple moment.
2. Roller Coaster – Marlee Frazee
Wonderful anchor for re-telling an event, complete with all the sensory descriptions of a whooshing, whirling roller coaster ride.
3. The Relatives Came – Cynthia Rylant
From one of my all-time favorite authors, this gentle book describes the sounds, smells and feelings of a summer visit from family, complete with snores, strawberries and lots of hugs. Perfect for making connections to family gatherings and a great anchor for writing.
4. Salt Hands – Jane Aargon
A late night “special moment” describes a young girl’s encounter with a deer. She pours salt in her hand and waits for the deer to trust her. A perfect description of a special moment when a human and animal touch. Simple, cautious and quiet.
5. Owl Moon – Jane Yolen
A young girl and her dad spend magical moments searching for owls one clear winter night. This is another quiet, patient book that is filled with sensory images, similes and gorgeous descriptions.
6. Shortcut – Donald Crews
Have you ever done something you knew you weren’t really supposed to – just for the thrill of it? This book tells the story of a group of children who, despite what they have been told, get the thrill of a lifetime when they take the short cut along the railroad tracks – and a train comes! This is a perfect book for making connections teaching onomotopeia-“Whoo! Whoo!”, “klackity, klackity, klack”.
7. Fireflies – Julie Brincoe
Catching fireflies on a warm summer night. Discovery, magic, joy – read this book with quiet whispers. It is a truly magical moment to inspire some magical moment writing.
8. Red Rubber Boot Day – Mary Lyn Rae
The sights and sensations of a rainy day. Lovely language, vibrant illustrations. This book is a perfect connect book for West-coasters and will inspire some great “rainy writing” from your students.
9. Every Friday – Dan Yaccarino
Simple description of favorite days, favorite routines, and family bonding. Every Friday, a young boy and his dad have a regular walk together and then eat the same pancakes at the same diner. A great book for getting students to think about their own family routines. This is a simple book, but will inspire some great “Every ____________” writing!
Bibbity Bop, Barber Shop – Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
So much to love about this book about a young boy’s first haircut: diversity, overcoming nerves, reassuring parent, cheerful, loving scenes of home and community. Lovely illustrations and gentle rhythm. Love this book for making connections.
10. Blackout – John Rocco
One hot summer night in the city, the power goes off. OH NO! What can we do? No computers! No play station! No cooking on the stove! No lights! It turns out, spending the evening on the rooftop with the neighbours and watching the night sky is better than video games!
And there you have it! Ten books to inspire “small moment” writing!
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