Tag Archives: Writing Anchor

Summer Reading – Day 24 Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! Compare and Contrast!

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday!
As I continue working on the draft of my book, I am finding many new anchor books which model particular nonfiction text structures. Today I’d like to share some of my new discoveries that focus on the structure of compare and contrast. Compare and contrast, as with all nonfiction text structures, has its own unique set of language features that students need to become familiar with. So it’s important to immerse them in books that include this language. Here is a list of some of my new favorite finds!

The Who Would Win? series by Jerry Pallotta is a head to head comparison of two similar animals.  (I had flashes of TV show “The Deadliest Warrior” ).  There are seven books in this series and I think you can order them as a set from Amazon.  Reading level is about grade 3 and these would certainly be perfect for as read-alouds.  Lots of interesting facts leaving the reader to decide for themselves – who would win?

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In another similar series by Isabel Thomas, pairs of similar animals are put up in a head to head battle.   What makes these books appealing is the point system that is included.  Animals receive points for survival skills such as strength, size, hunting ability, and camouflage. At the end of the book, the points are added up to discover the overall winner.   Lots of great predictions could be made and kids could award their own points for animal skills.

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If you prefer to have shorter compare and contrast passages to read and only one book to buy – then you will love What’s the Difference by Judy Diehl.  In it, she compares and contrast 10 animal look-alikes including: crow and raven, alligator and crocodile, wasp and bee, rabbit and hare, donkey and horse.  I like the simplicity of the shorter passages and have used this book many times with children when teaching how to create a Venn diagram. 61WZSAGASKL._SL500_AA300_[1]

While comparing and contrasting animals is great way to introduce the text structure to students, there are many different topics we can use for comparisons.  In Julie Cummin’s book Country Kid, City Kid, she compares the daily life of two children who live in different communities. And while this book may not be classified as nonfiction, I would certainly use it as an anchor book for the compare and contrast text structure.  I like how she begins with the obvious differences but then begins to infer how many similarities these two children actually have. 51QSGDX6H0L._SX260_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_[1]

In a similar way, Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw compares the life of a boy living in America with a boy living in India.  These two boys are pen pals and the story is presented through their post cards and letters to each other.  I really liked how this book compares these boys daily lives through their letters, leaving readers an opportunity to infer.  I also think it would be an excellent anchor book to launch a pen pal project!

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Saving the best for last, The Sun, the Wind and the Rain by Lisa Westburg Peters is one of those lost treasures.  I debated whether to include this book as I do believe it is out of print, but a visit to your local library or used book store might just be the answer.  I LOVE this book!  The cover and title are relatively deceiving but it is one of those books that I want to hug because within the cover, you have so many different teaching opportunities.

This book is a basic introduction to geology and how mountains are formed.  Elizabeth, a small girl, is imitating nature by building a mountain with sand on the beach. It is simple and beautiful in its description of the evolution of a mountain in comparison to a simple activity on a beach.  I can see this book being used to teach land formation, erosion, evolution and how weather combines to create force to change the earth.   In terms of my purpose, it is an excellent example of compare and contrast and in my search for anchor books – I believe I have discovered a hidden treasure!

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I hope you found some new treasures to add to your nonfiction collection! Please let me know if you have come across any great compare and contrast anchor books that I can add to my list!  Happy Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday, everyone!  For more great lists, check out Kid Lit Frenzy.

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Summer Reading – Day 22 – IMWAYR! The Power of Persuasion

Excited to be publishing my second post for IMWAYR!

As I continue to write the draft of my new book, Nonfiction Writing Power, I’m on a continuous search for anchor books to support the lessons. I’m astounded by how many titles I’ve discovered which lend themselves so well to the various nonfiction text structures. While some titles I was already familiar with, my list keeps growing as I discover more and more treasures (that some people refer to as books!) that model different text structures.

Today I thought I’d share some of picture books I have discovered that model the structure and language of persuasion. Here is a sneak peak at some of my favorites…

           961711[2]            8581550[2]Karen Kaufman Oroff has given us two excellent examples of persuasive letter writing.  In I Wanna Iguana, a young boy writes letters to his mom, trying to convince her to let him have a pet iguana.  His mom responds  to each letter, with reasons of her own why she doesn’t want him to have one.  Similar back and forth letter writing between this boy and his mother, this time in his plea for his own room, are found in her recent book I Wanna New Room.  I love the idea of using these books to inspire students to write persuasive letters to their parents asking them for something they really want.

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The power of persuasion is in full force in this witty book written and illustrated by the great Mark Teague. Many of us are familiar with Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School, but I have a new-found appreciation for this book as I am now reading it from a persuasive perspective.  This naughty dog has been sent to Obedience School by his owner, Mrs. LaRue.  The book is a series of letters from the dog persuading his owner that he should be brought home IMMEDIATELY because he DOES NOT belong there.  Hilarious voice as the dog describes (and embellishes) the conditions at the school.

Free as the Wind - by Jamie Bastedo

For a more serious look at the power of persuasion, Free as the Wind by Jamie Bastedo tells the fascinating and true story of the plight in the early 1960’s to save the wild horses of Sable Island, a remote island in the Atlantic just off the coast of Nova Scotia.  At that time, it was decided that the horses would be removed from the island and auctioned off, many would be slaughtered and used for dog food.  This book focuses on the dozens of school children who wrote persuasive letters to the Prime Minister, pleading with him to save the horses.  This is an inspiring true example of how the persuasive voice of a small group of children made a huge difference through writing and carved out a little piece of Canadian history.

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In Hey, Little Ant, by Philip M. Hoose, an ant and a boy have a back and forth conversation.  The ant is trying to persuade the boy not to step on him; the boy is giving the ant his own reasons why he should.   Thought provoking and an excellent example of how to back up your argument! I have used this book many times over the years as it is a perfect segue into a “Whose side are you on?”/ “What would you do?” discussion.

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In Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, a group of literate Cows and Chickens type letters to the farmer with a list of demands and reasons why they feel they should have better living conditions.  Hilarious and a great example of persuasive letter writing.

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I focused on this book a few blogs ago, but will highlight it again here as it is another excellent example of persuasive letter writing.  The Day the Crayons Quit is about a boy named Duncan who discovers a stack of persuasive letters written by each of his crayons, expressing their reasons for quitting and presenting their argument for better working conditions.

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My Brother Dan’s Delicious, by Steven L. Layne, is about a boy who is home alone and becomes very worried that a monster is going to eat him.  He comes up with some excellent and hilarious reasons why the monster should eat his brother, Dan, instead of him, including the fact that his brother is much more tasty than he is!  Very persuasive!

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Scaredy Squirrel author Melanie Watt, once again, provides us with a character that makes you laugh out loud.  In Have I Got A Book For You, a very cheesy salesman (mouse) is trying to sell the reader a book – this book!  Excellent example of persuasive voice and a great anchor book for teaching how to give engaging “Book Talks”

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A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea – Michael Ian Black.  Ever had the idea to host a pig parade?  Think it might be a great idea and a whole lot of fun?  Well…. think again!  This hilarious book gives all the reasons why having a pig parade is a BAD idea!

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Duck for President by Doreen Cronin would make an excellent book for teaching students about government, elections or prior to student council nominations.  Duck is tired of the chores he is made to do on the farm, so he decides to hold an election and take over the farm.  He wins, but discovers that the job is much harder than he anticipated!

So if you are thinking of teaching “persuasive writing” to your students in the months ahead, I’m hoping you discovered a few new titles that you’re excited to use for your lessons!  I’d also love to hear about any other anchor books you have used for persuasive writing.

Check out the other IMWAYR! posts at:   Teach Mentor Texts  or Unleashing Readers. 

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Summer Reading – Day 17! Crayon Revolt!

16101018[1]The Day the Crayons Quit – by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by the great Oliver Jeffers is a laugh out loud book about what happens one day when Duncan goes to colour and discovers his crayons have quit!  Instead of crayons, he discovers a stack of letters written by each of his crayons, expressing their complaints and reasons why they are quitting:  Black is fed up of being used just for outlining; Blue has been worn to a stump and is  tired of only being used to color oceans;  Green is satisfied with his workload of coloring trees, crocodiles and frogs but wants Duncan to stop the fighting between red and orange.  Beige is tired of being treated as a “second” to Brown.  Sooo funny – for adults as well as kids!  Each page features the actual letter from each crayon, expressing themselves in their own unique way and accompanied by some of Duncan’s drawings.  This book is original, clever and hilarious!  (and it makes me jealous that I didn’t think of the idea first!)

9780399255373_IL_1[1]Now many things make me happy but finding a book that fits PERFECTLY with a lesson is high up there on my happy meter! And it just so happens that I am knee deep in writing my new book (Nonfiction Writing Power) and searching for anchor books for different forms of nonfiction writing.  Hello?  Could there be a more perfect book for PERSUASION?  I got so excited when I first saw this book and realized it was written as a collection of persuasive letters (who cares if the letters are written by crayons!) I did a happy dance right there in the book store! Each letter models a form of persuasive writing that expresses an opinion with the intention of promoting action or change from the reader. I’m already visualizing students choosing the voice of a crayon and writing their own letters!  I can’t wait to share this book at my workshops!  I’m predicting it will be on the top of every teacher’s “must have” list by the end of September.  (I hope they printed lots of copies!)

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