Writing Mentor Texts for Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade


Need some narrative, opinion/persuasive, and informational mentor texts for your Kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade students?

I’ve got LOTS of book recommendations for you – you can use these books to teach students about writing genres and specific writing skills!

In this post, I’m sharing 50 great mentor texts, as well as 5 important “how to” tips for using mentor texts in the primary grades!

This post has a HUGE list of mentor texts for narrative, opinion, and informational writing! You can use these books to teach personal narrative writing, story writing, opinion writing, persuasive writing, how-to writing, and nonfiction writing. There's also a list of 5 tips for using mentor texts!

Photo credit: Tiplyashina Evgeniya, Shutterstock

The books listed below are best for use with Kindergarten, first, or second grade. The ones that are most appropriate for Kindergarten are *starred* (not to say that any of the books would be inappropriate for Kindergarten, but having taught this grade, I know that some books are a little too long for the little ones!).

Within the lists, I’ve linked to these books on Amazon, so you can quickly and easily add them to your cart or wishlist!

Narrative or Personal Narrative Writing Mentor Texts:

Salt Hands (Picture Puffins)  (Jane Chelsea Aragon) – personal narrative

*Fireflies  (Julie Brinckloe) – personal narrative

*Bigmama’s  (Donald Crews) – personal narrative Shortcut (Donald Crews) – personal narrative

Oliver Button Is a Sissy  (Tomie dePaola)

Roller Coaster  (Maria Frazee) – can be used to teach personal narratives, but not told from 1st person perspective

*Kitten’s First Full Moon  (Kevin Henkes) – fiction

*Amazing Grace  (Mary Hoffman) – narrative

*The Leaving Morning (Angela Johnson) – personal narrative

*Peter’s Chair (Picture Puffins)  (Ezra Jack Keats) – can be used to teach personal narratives, but not told from 1st person perspective

The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats) – can be used to teach personal narratives, but not told from 1st person perspective

*Whistle for Willie  (Ezra Jack Keats) – narrative

*Kitchen Dance  (Maurie J. Manning) – personal narrative

One Morning in Maine (Picture Puffins)  (Robert McCloskey) – narrative

Mirette on the High Wire  (Emily Arnold McCully) – narrative

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother (Patricia Polacco) – personal narrative

Thank You, Mr. Falker  (Patricia Polacco) – narrative / personal narrative

Thunder Cake  (Patricia Polacco) – personal narrative

The Relatives Came  (Cynthia Rylant) – personal narrative

When I Was Young in the Mountains (Cynthia Rylant) – personal narrative

Too Many Tamales  (Gary Soto) – narrative

*Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)  (Mo Willems) – fiction

*Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale  (Mo Willems) – realistic fiction

*A Chair for My Mother (Vera Williams) – personal narrative

*Owl Moon  (Jane Yolen) – personal narrative; great for teaching descriptive details

Opinion or Persuasive Writing Mentor Texts:

*One Word from Sophia (Jim Averbeck)

*Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type  (Doreen Cronin) – can also be used to teach letter writing

The Best Part of Me: Children Talk About their Bodies in Pictures and Words  (Wendy Ewald)

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School (Mark Teague) – can also be used to teach letter writing

Hey, Little Ant  (Phillip Hoose)

Should We Have Pets?: A Persuasive Text  (Sylvia Lollis)

I Wanna Iguana  (Karen Kaufman Orloff) – can also be used to teach letter writing

I Wanna New Room  (Karen Kaufman Orloff) – can also be used to teach letter writing

The Perfect Pet (Margie Palatini)

Earrings (Judith Viorst)

*Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  (Mo Willems)

*Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!  (Mo Willems)

Informational / How-To / Nonfiction / Expository Writing Mentor Texts:

*All About Sharks  (Jim Arnosky)

*Surprising Sharks (Nicola Davies)

Solids, Liquids, And Gases (Rookie Read-About Science)  (Ginger Garrett)

*How a House Is Built  (Gail Gibbons) – how-to book

The Bicycle Book  (Gail Gibbons)

*The Pumpkin Book  (Gail Gibbons) – one page has a how-to

*Make a Valentine (Book shop)  (Dale Gordon) – how-to book

All Kinds of Habitats (It’s Science!)  (Sally Hewitt)

Chameleons Are Cool (Martin Jenkins)

The Abcs of Habitats (Abcs of the Natural World)  (Bobbie Kalman)

Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! (Kathleen Kudlinski)

*What Is Weather?  (Ellen Lawrence)

*How to Make Salsa  (Jamie Lucero) – how-to book

What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases  (Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld)

All of these texts can be used with my Kindergarten, first, or second grade writing units or writing bundles. These bundles have lesson plans that show you exactly how to use mentor texts to teach writing! (However, not all of the lessons use mentor texts – many do not. I think it’s important to have a balance of both.)

In addition to complete writing lesson plans, the bundles also include:

  • Writing rubrics / assessments
  • Printable posters
  • Kid-friendly writing checklists
  • Printable writing paper

Read more about the bundles here:

KinderWritingWorkshopBundleCover.001    FirstGradeWritingWorkshopBundleCover.001    SecondGradeWritingWorkshopBundleCover.001

Five Tips for Using Mentor Texts

Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite mentor texts, let’s talk about how to use them effectively in the classroom! Here are five things that I do when working with writing mentor texts:

1.  Before utilizing a book as a mentor text, I read it aloud to students for purposes of enjoyment and comprehension. Students need an opportunity to understand, enjoy, and discuss a text before they are asked to think about it as writers. I always read aloud the mentor text a day or two before I use it in a writing lesson.

2.  I use modeling and clear, explicit language to teach students how to “read as writers.” I explain that people read books for many purposes – for pleasure, to learn, and to grow as writers. I like to read a familiar book aloud to students and think aloud as I “read it as a writer.”  I comment on what I notice about character development, how the author introduces a problem, the author’s word choice, the author’s use of punctuation marks, how the illustrations complement the words, and so on.

3.  I use the same mentor text for multiple writing lessons.  While it’s helpful to expose students to many different mentor texts, you can also use a single text for multiple minilessons.  In my second grade writing workshop curriculum, for example, I use the book Amazing Grace (Mary Hoffman) to teach students how to include a problem in a story, write a strong ending, and incorporate dialogue.  This saves us time, because students are already familiar with the text so we can dive right into the teaching point of the minilesson.

4.  I use mentor texts to guide my own planning. When I sit down to plan a writing unit, I sometimes struggle to determine what, exactly, I want my students to be able to do as writers of the genre we’re working on.  When this happens, I spend some time carefully examining mentor texts on my own.  For example, if I’m planning a nonfiction unit, I take out a couple of children’s nonfiction books and pay attention to how the authors convey information.  Are examples given?  Does the author provide definitions of important works?  Is the information organized into categories – and if so, how?  These are all strategies that I can teach students to use as they learn nonfiction writing.

5.  I teach students to learn about writing from the books they read independently.  I show students that, as they read, they can also grow as writers. You might have students keep a list of interesting words they find in books, and then encourage them to share these words with the class and try them out in their own writing.

Last but not least, if you’d like to grab some FREE writing printables that include alphabet charts, kid-friendly checklists, and more, get my writing folder tools freebie here!

Do you have any favorite mentor texts or tips for using them? Please comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.


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Chrissy Beltran
8 years ago

Thank you so much for writing this detailed post! We’re looking to build our collection of mentor texts for each grade level. This will be a huge help!

8 years ago

Do you have one made for 3rd grade?

8 years ago

Thank you for sharing! Even as a third grade teacher, I found this post to be helpful!! I struggle as a new writing teacher so your advice is very practical.

Sandra Hardin
7 years ago

Thanks Alison for such a great list of mentor texts. I love the photograph images you use in your blog on on your products. Can you tell me where you get them?

7 years ago

Great resources, thanks. I appreciate seeing some female and minority authors and characters, and encourage you to keep up the good work!

Debbie Krueger
7 years ago

This is is a super resource! I’m always on the lookout for mentor texts for writing. I’m so glad for your email about this – I just recently subscribed to it. I also bought your complete writing bundle this week and am delighted with it. Thank you!

Keyla Cortez
7 years ago

thank you so much for your help. I really appreciated it . This will be a hug help for my kindergartens

7 years ago

Hi Alison and thank you for this. We are a tc school and are building our k mentor text reaching text collections and I was wondering if you could suggest a few for Non Fiction and How To ( beyond the Gail Gibbons). For example I want to emphasize certain elements such as bold words for both caution and new or important words -not just for the index. I would love a few ideas that you use or feel are your go to titles for non fiction and how to Thank you for any ideas and the resource list above.… Read more »

6 years ago

Is there a link somewhere that I can download just the list of books? I want to be able to save it and I don’t see a list in the post, just it listed with links. Thank you for all of your hard work!

6 years ago

Hello Alison, I would also love the mentor text list in document form for Kindergarten and grade 1.

6 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

6 years ago

This is amazing! Do you have any mentor texts for Poetry? Thanks!

6 years ago

Such a perfect list of books for each genre! Thank you!! 🙂

6 years ago

Wow! This was an awesome resource. I have been teaching math, science, and health only for a while. Now I have to get back in the grove of teaching reading language arts and writing. Writing doesn’t get the proper time like it should in my class. So reading your blog and doing your workshop will help me become more efficient when teaching writing.

Ana Laura Staines
5 years ago

Thank you! Looking forward on using the second grade writing bundle. Great Mentor text list.

Kelly G Lee
3 years ago

Thank you so much! I really appreciate this wonderful list of mentor texts to help build up our Writing Workshop program this year.

Learning At The Primary Pond
3 years ago
Reply to  Kelly G Lee

You’re welcome! 🙂

Susan White
3 years ago

Hi Alison,

I purchased, I thought, your K,1st, and 2nd writing workshop bundles from the webinar that I watched. Thank you for sending the video. I had major technical difficulties that day and couldn’t log in. I went to the bundle link in your e-mail and used paypal to purchase all 3, but I can not find the downloads. Can you check for me please? I really want them.

Reply to  Susan White

Hi Susan! I’m so sorry that you were having technical difficulties! I have contacted my customer service team and a member will look up your purchase and get that resent to you within 24 hours. 🙂 Thank you for reaching out!

2 years ago

Can you recommend a mentor list in Spanish for the Units of Study poetry unit? (K-2, specifically 2nd grade) Thanks!!

Reply to  Carly

Hey there! Right now, I can’t think of a solid recommendation off the top of my head. I’ll let you know if I come across anything!


I’m Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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