The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman

Recommended Grades: 3-5

A little girl visiting her great-grandfather is encouraged to find something in his shop and he’ll tell her a story.  She chooses a cigar box that turns out to hold a host of matchboxes.  Inside each is a memento attached to a story.  Through the mementos, the little girl learns about her great-grandfather’s youth in Italy and subsequent immigration to the United States. 

Lesson Idea:


Mentor Text: Memoir Writing:  Read aloud The Matchbox Diary and discuss the characteristics of memoir writing.  This particular book is not an actual memoir, but is memoir-like.  Use this as a model/mentor text for writing about objects that evoke memories. Pair this with The Keeping Quilt,  Ma Dear’s Aprons and Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crab Cakes Later).  How do the authors use objects to write autobiographically?

©2013 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.

George: George Washington, Our Founding Father by Frank Keating

Recommended Grades: 4-6

A first person telling of the more important events in George Washington’s life is told woven with quotes from his “Rules of Civility.”

Lesson Idea:

Memoir-esque:


Mentor Texts: Several recent books weave quotes from the person into the story.  This is a great model for students to use in their own writing.  Read aloud George: George Washington, Our Founding Father (Paula Wiseman Books) and discuss how he used his “Rules of Civility” to guide his character.  How did the author effectively weave Washington’s actual rules into the story? Read aloud other books, like Martin’s Big Words or Imogene’s Last Stand that effectively use quotes woven through story as model texts.  Have students use the models to guide their own writing.       

©2012 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.