We want to teach students that their writing matters, and what better way than to show them how writing can persuade others? Learning about writing signs, letters, lists, reviews, essays, and blog posts helps to open possibilities for kids. Check out some of our favorite opinion writing mentor texts to show kids how it’s done!
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1. I Love Insects by Lizzy Rockwell (pre-K-2)
This early reader should definitely be in your primary classroom collection of opinion writing mentor texts to help introduce the genre. Do YOU love insects? Two kids give competing reasons why and why not. Read it aloud and head straight into shared writing of a pro/con list.
To introduce kids to opinion writing, you need opinion writing mentor texts to teach them what “opinions” are— and Usha, Aarti, and Gloria have them! They each see something different when they look at the stars. This book could lead to a great introduction activity in which students try to convince each other whether they see the Big Dipper, a “Big Digger,” a “Big Kite…” or something else. (Hint: It’s all in your perspective!)
When a park ranger puts up a “Don’t Feed the Bear” reminder, he has no idea about the persuasive sign-writing battle he’ll set in motion. (Strategic language includes: “Please feed the ranger rotten eggs and slimy spinach.”) Share this hilarious title to introduce students to using signs to influencing others’ thinking.
Let a favorite character guide young students in the art of persuasion. The bus driver does not want pigeon in the driver’s seat, but the well-known bird builds an emotional and unrelenting case.
Introduce young students to the idea of activism and its connection to opinion writing. This inspiring photo essay includes examples of kids’ opinions about real-life causes and many written signs.
6. The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan (pre-K-3)
This protagonist is a toddler on a mission—a mission to kick her dad out of her parents’ bed so she can sleep with her mom. Use this little girl’s precocious modeling to show students how to polish their own opinion writing by adding visual supports.
7. The Perfect Pet by Margie Palatini (pre-K-3)
Elizabeth crafts a plan to convince her parents to let her have a pet, with unexpected—but pleasing—results. Teach kids about win-win solutions and encourage them to suggest them in their own opinion writing.
First, read a collection of persuasive letters from a lonely dog seeking an owner that’s a twist on kids’ pet requests. Each letter is tailored to a specific audience, with Arfy promising to lick things clean, protect, and deliver endless affection.
In the sequel, Arfy uses his persuasive skills to help someone else, a lovable stray kitten. Notice with students how he once again shapes his reasoning for each recipient—and how he doesn’t give up until he’s successful!
10. I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff (K-3)
After his successful angling for a pet in I Wanna Iguana, Alex tries using note-writing to broach his next request: A room of his own, away from his pesky younger brother. The parent-child communication includes plenty of examples of making and responding to counterarguments.
This author’s opinion is that you should appreciate your dad for who he is. He makes his case with plenty of arguments grounded in facts—facts that show that if your dad was an animal, he could be even more gross, embarrassing, or annoying!
12. Earrings! by Judith Viorst (K-3)
A young girl desperately wants her ears pierced, but her parents’ respond to her begging with a firm “No.” Ask students to evaluate the merits of her various arguments. Which are strong? Which are just whiny?
If you’re looking for an introduction to the genre that lays it all out there, you’ll appreciate this resource. Engaging, diverse photos and topics, a kid-friendly tone, and explicit advice make this a helpful primer to accompany more conventional mentor texts.
This narrator has plenty of reasons to dislike his self-centered cats, which he outlines in specific detail. Use this title as an example of a multi-pronged argument. (Plus, show that sometimes, opinion writing actually leads us to change our own minds. By the end, the owner realizes he actually loves his pets, quirks and all.)
Zoe makes big plans for her future, from being an archeologist to a veterinarian. She quiets self-doubt with confident arguments. Aside from sharing this title’s lovely, affirming message, use it to teach kids to anticipate tough questions and head them off convincingly in their opinion writing.
Farah Patel works to convince her local government to improve a vacant lot to benefit her community. Great realistic examples for kids of using letters and signs to create change!
These disgruntled but endearing crayons have opinions, and they aren’t shy about making them known in this read aloud favorite. Check out this free downloadable educator guide from the publisher for persuasive letter-writing curriculum connections.
The best opinion writing springs from genuine conviction. Eugenie Clark believed sharks were fascinating and that women could be accomplished scientists who study them. Use this title to help students generate their own passion-fueled topics about which to write.
Share this title for its inspiring message about the power of one citizen to evoke positive change through spoken words, writing, and action. Also consider it as an example of how words and art interact in opinion writing; the illustrations and text work together here to advance the book’s message.
Dr. Archibald Coo believes that pigeons don’t deserve their reputation as avian pests. He outlines a plan to change the minds of his city neighbors. Part of his approach is to send a persuasive letter to the mayor, suggesting creative, mutually beneficial agreements—a great example for student writers aiming to change the minds of authority figures.
The animals in this classic read aloud give a range of reasons their home shouldn’t be chopped down. Use them as examples of how to vary sentence structures and formats when listing arguments and how to use specific details to strengthen reasoning.
This fictional account of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, told from the point of view of a young participant, is a classroom must-read. It exemplifies how children’s actions can make a difference in an adult world and how powerful language strengthens a written message.
This powerful title introduces inspiring and diverse young activists’ causes using original poems by notable authors. Show kids that impactful opinion writing can take many forms.
A classroom prepares to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day with research projects that convey a clear message: Native Nations are still here! Besides being critical content for kids, this is a great example of how to use researched facts to support one’s opinion.
Every middle school student should meet Marley Dias through this powerful account of her #1000blackgirlbooks campaign. It boasts plenty of practical advice for young activists. Pull text excerpts for mini-lessons about tailoring opinion writing to your audience; Marley writes straight to her peers.
26. Front Desk by Kelly Yang (4-6)
This middle grade novel about a Chinese immigrant family explores themes of racism, poverty, and hope. At its heart is ten-year-old Mia, who shares her thinking with the world by writing letters. This story puts opinion writing in a believable context for students. Plus, several of Mia’s letters are organized, detailed, convincing mentor texts for students to emulate in their own persuasive letter or essay writing.
27. Class Action by Steven B. Frank (4-8)
In this humorous take on a student-centered topic, sixth-grader Sam launches a major campaign against homework. Selected passages and embedded writing samples, like Sam’s “Claim for Damages to Person or Property” to the LAUSD, offer self-contained examples to use for opinion writing mini-lessons. The novel as a whole is an appealing companion text for your unit.
This author believes that “kids have the power to change the world.” Her introductory letter to readers is mentor text material, with its conversational tone and a balance of emotional appeal and fact-based examples. “Workbook Questions” for each chapter give many ideas for opinion writing-related classroom tasks, too.
Great opinion writing mentor texts elevate and expand students’ toolbox of strategies. Author Matthew Chavez believes that, as “the original social media,” creative expression can make a difference, and he carefully outlines why in this guide. The remaining content gives students loads of tips about sparking change through art, writing, and conversation.
Excited to share these opinion writing mentor texts? Also check out our favorite mentor texts for procedural and narrative writing.
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