Content-Area Literacy Teaching Writing

Reading, Writing, and Mentor Texts: Imagining Possibilities (NWP Radio)


Mentor texts can support writers and inspire writing in all genres in the classroom and beyond. This NWP Radio show is of particular interest to study groups and teacher-leaders designing professional development that explores the use of mentor texts to support writing in academic disciplines. Presenters share resources for identifying and using effective mentor texts.

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“Mentor texts are pieces of literature that you—both teacher and student—can return to and reread for many different purposes. They are texts to be studied and imitated…. Mentor texts help students to take risks and be different writers tomorrow than they are today. It helps them to try out new strategies and formats. They should be basically books that students can relate to and can even read independently or with some support. And of course, a mentor text doesn’t have to be in the form of a book—a mentor text might be a poem, a newspaper article, song lyrics, comic strips, manuals, essays, almost anything.” Lynne Dorfman—Co-Director of the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project


  1. Definition of mentor texts (2:00)
  2. Discussion of using picture books as mentor texts (14:01)
  3. Advice about choosing 15-25 texts as anchors for the year (15:50)
  4. Discussion of the concept of “deeper writing” (24:40)
  5. Using mentor texts as resources for teacher inquiry (36:43).

Also included is a discussion of how a broad definition of “text” can enrich a thematic approach to history along with an example of using texts in a history unit on the “Other” in America. Included links contain valuable resources on mentor texts in general and in history in particular.