Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh

Recommended Grades: 3-5

A humpback whale travels along the Pacific coast, but hidden in the water is a forgotten fishing net.  When the whale becomes trapped, the story, based on a true event, reminds us of the important connection between humans and animals. 

Mentor Text: Word Choice

trapped photoBurleigh uses fantastic word choice and description in Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue.  His use of sensory words to describe the whale’s journey are beautifully complemented by Minor’s paintings. When students write informative texts, useTrapped! A Whale’s Rescue
as a mentor text to model great word choice.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for review.

©2015 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh

Recommended Grades: 5-8

When Sylvia Mendez and her family moved to a new town in California, she was excited to attend her neighborhood school.  But, she was told she had to go to the Mexican school instead.  Sylvia didn’t understand why – she was an American citizen who spoke perfect English.  This is the story of segregated schools in California and one family’s  fight to end it. 

Separate is Never EqualLesson Idea: Mentor Text: Civil Rights: Read aloud Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation as part of a unit on civil rights.  Segregation based on race was common throughout the United States in the 1940s and much of what we know about segregation comes from our knowledge of segregation in the southern states.  In actuality, The Mendez v. Westminster School District case paved the way for the desegregation of schools in America.  The landmark case Brown v. Board of Education desegregated schools in the entire country, seven years after the Mendez victory.

©2015 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Violet and Victor Write the Best-Ever Bookworm Book by Alice Kuipers

Recommended Grades: 3-5

Violet Small is on a mission to write the best book ever.  She enlists her twin, Victor’s help, but he’s only interested in worms.  Together, though, Violet and Victor discover the magic of storytelling! 


violet and victorLesson Idea: Mentor Text: Creating Readers and Writers: Read aloud Violet and Victor Write the Best-Ever Bookworm Book to model the magic of storytelling.  Building a collection of books around reading and writing provides model texts for students as they become readers and writers themselves.  Violet and Victor are great characters to encourage the budding writers in your room.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from Mr. Schu’s blog Watch. Connect. Read  Thanks, Mr. Schu!

©2015 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy

Recommended Grades: 4-6

Chester Greenwood didn’t actually invent the earmuffs, but he improved them and received a patent for the design. Today, he is known as the inventor of earmuffs and the state of Maine celebrates him every year on December 21!

Lesson Idea:


Mentor Text: Biography/Author Study: This is another great picture book biography by author Meghan McCarthy. Others include Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum and Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton. Read aloud Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs as part of a biography unit or as part of an author study of Meghan McCarthy. Her use of interesting facts in the text and the back matter she shares in her books provides the reader with a great model for nonfiction writing. Our third graders participate in an inquiry study of inventors each year and Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs will be a fantastic resource to add to the study.
©2015 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Recommended Grades: 1-5

We all have an inner exclamation mark.  The question is, how do we find it?  The story of the exclamation mark and how it took him a little time to figure out what he wanted to say and how to say it.

Lesson Idea:


Mentor Text: Conventions/Finding Your Inner Self:   Exclamation Mark is an excellent mentor text for two very different topics.  On a surface level, use Exclamation Mark as a mentor text when discussing conventions and end marks in particular.  The font size in the text makes for excellent discussion around the use of the exclamation mark.  On a deeper level, the Exclamation Mark is a metaphor for finding your inner self and sharing it with the world.

©2014 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.