When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

November Theme:  Cynthia Rylant picture books

Six Traits: Organization (Varied Endings)
What is a touchstone text?  A touchstone text is a text you can turn to again and again for various teaching points.  A touchstone text is a book you and your students know very well.  There are several authors who I turned to again and again when teaching.  One of these authors is Cynthia Rylant. 
Moving Endings
Inspired by Cynthia Rylant’s childhood spent with her grandparents in the mountains of West Virginia, Rylant lyrically describes the simplicity of living in the country using the phrase, “When I was young in the mountains. . .”.
This week When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant is the focus of my review.  I actually reviewed this book this time last year.  My focus then was on brainstorming topics.  Since this was a touchstone text in my classroom, I also used it to teach moving endings.  I don’t want to give away the ending, but the author evokes emotion as she describes how the mountains were always enough for her. . . she never wanted anything more.
Lesson idea: Gather 5-10 books that are models of different endings and have students analyze the endings.


Over the next month, I will review additional Cynthia Rylant books that have different types of endings.   What books do you use to teach writers’ craft?  Do you have any touchstone texts or touchstone authors that you turn to again and again? 

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

Inspired by Cynthia Rylant’s childhood spent with her grandparents in the mountains of West Virginia, Rylant lyrically describes the simplicity of living in the country using the phrase, “When I was young in the mountains. . .”.

Writers Workshop

Brainstorming Topics
This book is useful for many writers workshop lessons. After introducing writers’ notebooks to students, this book can be used to introduce a way to brainstorm topics for the notebook. After I model from my own life, I have students use the phrase, “When I was young. . . ” to begin their own brainstorming of ideas they might use as seeds for writing pieces.


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