Adding mentor texts to your writing curriculum can be a huge plus for your students! Read on to see my list of the 12 best mentor texts for teaching fictional narratives to 3rd-grade students.
Why Use Mentor Texts While Teaching Fictional Narratives?
First, let’s acknowledge the importance of using mentor texts when teaching writing. The simple truth is that WE know what we expect our students to do, but our students have no idea! Students must be exposed to examples of the writing genre we teach.
Mentor texts aren’t just great for exposing students to the genre; they are also powerful for explicitly teaching the structure and features. For example, we can show examples of characterization, setting, problems, and solutions. We can offer an author’s use of dialogue or linking words. Overall, mentor texts can be really powerful.
Let’s dive into my recommendations! FYI, I recommend these books in my third-grade fictional narratives writing unit (which you can check out here).
Let’s look at the best mentor texts for teaching fictional narratives.
Robo-Sauce By Adam Rubin
Intrigue your students with a book about robots that is hilarious and awe-inspiring! It has everything they want in a story but will still show them key pieces of a fictional narrative piece. Kiddos just want to run free and have no rules, and the characters in this book run wild and turn into robots with laser eyes and supercomputer brains!
Teaching Idea: This book lends itself to fictional narratives because the whole story stems from the imagination. Give your students an open-ended prompt to encourage them to continue the story or share about them turning into a robot.
You can check out the storybook here.
Where the Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak
I am sure you are familiar with this classic story of a child’s imagination gone wild. He is mad at his mother and imagines a world where he doesn’t have to have any rules and can do whatever he wants. He rules over the wild things but soon realizes he misses his mom. A warm supper is waiting for him when he returns from his voyage and makes him realize he needs his mother more than he thought.
Teaching Idea: I use this book during the second lesson of my fictional narrative writing curriculum, where I share with the children how to decide what to write about.
Check out the book here.
The Day I Lost My Superpowers By Michael Escoffier
Join a little girl on her daily adventures; on one particular day, she discovers her superpowers! She is delighted and wants to use them all the time. To her dismay, they fail her. She soon discovers that her mother has superpowers too. Good thing mom is there to save the day! The little girl and the mother share a special bond now.
Teaching Idea: Encourage your students to write about the superpower they wish they had.
You will find the book here.
A Bad Case Of The Stripes By David Shannon
Camilla Cream wants to fit in with all the kids at school, so she doesn’t eat lima beans anymore, even though they are her favorite! She is struggling to be true to herself and puts a lot of pressure on herself. Camilla finds herself coming down with a bad case of the stripes! Your students will be captivated to find out what happens to young Camilla.
Teaching Idea: Teach children about characters and their feelings. A fictional narrative must have characters, and the story is much better if they show emotions and feelings. Have children create a character that feels large emotions.
Get A Bad Case of the Stripes here.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs By Judi Barrett
This book is a wonderful example of a fictional narrative! Food falling from the sky for each meal, but soon the food gets a mind of its own and becomes large and dangerous. Just think of being able to order your meal, and it falls already prepared at your doorstep or not even having to prepare a meal!
Teaching Idea: Kids love to eat, and they will love to imagine a day’s worth of meals falling from the sky. I love this story since it leads children to imagine very easily; there is no right or wrong answer for this prompt idea. This picture book is also great for teaching about setting.
Grab the book here.
The Panda Problem By Deborah Underwood
This is the perfect book to share about the parts of a story; it is full of problems, a climax, a silly character, and a fun setting. The panda wants to make a story, but he doesn’t have a problem, so he decides to be the problem! He is ornery and creates mischief everywhere he goes! It makes for a great story!
Teaching Idea: The panda cause mayhem for a day…don’t you think your students will want to imagine a day of freedom and no rules? The perfect fictional narrative writing prompt for reluctant writers. This storybook is ideal for teaching about problems in narrative writing.
Click here to see the book.
Giraffes Can’t Dance By Giles Andreae
Teach children about accepting their unique talents while also showing students a good example of a fictional narrative. This book has all the features you want to teach about while also being silly and holding their attention. Gerald, the giraffe, can’t dance no matter how much he practices or tries. He just can’t until he finds a new tune and some courage!
Teaching Idea: Share a problem that all students can write about to create a solution. Make it a problem that doesn’t have an obvious solution, so students have to use their imagination to write something.
Here is the book link.
The Gruffalo By Julia Donaldson
Have you ever seen a gruffalo? Me neither! This book is so fun and will have your children laughing while imagining a walk in the woods on a search for one. Join the little mouse as it walks through the woods, meeting all kinds of creatures that want to eat it for a snack. It goes deeper into the woods, and you will have to read it to find out what he finds.
Teaching Idea: Read part of the story and have the students finish the rest. This mentor text is ideal for teaching story arcs.
Grab the story here.
Creepy Carrots! By Aaron Reynolds
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots! He especially likes the ones from a particular garden. One day, he starts to think that the carrots are following him. Are they? He really isn’t sure, but he is scared!
Teaching Idea: This is the perfect book to teach about adding suspense to a fictional narrative.
Check out Creepy Carrots! here.
Harold And The Purple Crayon By Crockett Johnson
Join Harold on a nighttime adventure with his purple crayon! He ventures on a walk and draws a wonderful scene with his crayon while he imagines the most magical story. This book is a must-have mentor text for teaching fictional narratives.
Teaching Idea: Give your students their own purple crayon and encourage them to imagine like Harold. I’ve used this read aloud when teaching point of view (1st person vs 3rd person narration).
You will find the book here.
Idea Jar By Adam Lehrhaupt
The students in the book put all their ideas in the jar. None are too silly, and none of them match! When you pull a few out and make a story, they are quite funny, but what happens when the ideas escape? Everything goes haywire, and your students will love reading this book!
Teaching Idea: Make your own idea jar and create a great story! This picture book goes great with a lesson where students are brainstorming story ideas.
Find the Idea Jar here.
The Plot Chickens By Mary Jane Auch
Teach children about a plot with this fun book about Chicken writing her own book. She loves to read but can’t find the perfect book. So she starts off to write her own, with the help of her 3 aunties. Will she write a hit or not?
Teaching Idea: This is a great read aloud for teaching fictional narratives! Create a class poster while reading the book with the steps that Chicken uses to create her own book.
Click here to find the story.
I hope you enjoyed reading about these 12 mentor texts for teaching fictional narratives.
If you’re a 3rd-grade teacher, be sure to check out Terrific Writing. It is a comprehensive writing curriculum for Third Grade.
The books in this blog post are used in Unit 4, ‘Fictional Narratives,’ where students learn how to write engaging fictional narratives. Click here to check out the unit!
P.S. Click here to grab free activities from my free resource library!
P.S.S. Check out my list of mentor texts for personal narratives here.