Mentor Monday Linky: Lively Leads 1/27/14


Greetings everyone and welcome to the second week of

Mentor Monday!

Never underestimate the power of a picture book! Each one has a powerful message and can be an incredible teaching tool. This week’s topic is Lively Leads. Before I go into what leads are, can anyone guess what famous chapter book this one is from?

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

We all know that beloved classic, Charlotte’s Web. Think about this first sentence though. What makes it so effective? Is it that E.B. White starts with a question? Or dialogue? Mentioning an ax in the first sentence certainly builds up some drama and curiosity!!

What are leads?
A lead is the opening of any story that hooks or grabs the reader’s attention right away. You have the opportunity to make a powerful first impression on the reader with your opening words, which should be urging them to want to read more.
How do we communicate that this is a important element to our writing to our students? I’ve shown TONS of examples from picture books! Then, together as a class, we’ve discussed what makes them effective and categorized the leads into the different styles the authors used. Some examples of categories may be:

  • Starting with a question.
  • Starting with dialogue
  • Starting with action that puts the reader right into the plot instantly.
  • Start with a description to help the reader create a mental image in their mind of the setting and characters.
My Mentor Text For Lively Leads

I’ve chosen a biography for my mentor text this week. I am a HUGE FAN of Kathleen Krull. She has written the most exquisite children’s biographies. If you don’t know this author, please check her out! Here’s a link to an author video she did for Reading Rockets to share with your class:

Krull wrote Wilma Unlimited: The Story of How Wilma Rudolph Became The World’s Fastest Woman.

Please read this lead out loud to yourself slowly. It is just perfect.

“No one expected such a tiny girl to have a first birthday.”
I would read this sentence out loud to my class and pause. I’d share my thinking by saying, “The subtitle says this book about a woman that became the fastest runner in the world! How could it ever be possible that she was so tiny and sickly when she was born?!” This sentence is begging you to read more. It captures a sense of irony in just a few short words. (Can you see why I’m a fan of this book?) My third graders were glued to this text. Not only does is show a lively lead, it’s great for teaching character traits. It’s also been one of the very first picture books I’ve used when I’ve taught my biography unit over the years.
I hope you’ll take some time to check out Wilma Unlimited with your class. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you teach leads in your class too!

*Note to fellow teacher bloggers: If you’d like to link up your post with a mentor text about this literacy topic, THANK YOU!
Here is a link to the Mentor Monday button I’ve created.
Please use it at the beginning of your post to make it easily recognizable on all link-ups. Also, please name your post Mentor Monday Linky 1/27/14: Lively Leads. You’ll find the link-up at the end of this post. It will stay open until 1/29/14.
I’m so excited to read your posts to learn about some other great picture books. Thank you for visiting my blog today! I’d love for you to follow me on Bloglovin’ by clicking the heart on the blue book in the right sidebar. Please come back each week for Mentor Monday! :))



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