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How to Inspire a Love of Writing (page 2)

How to Inspire a Love of Writing

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Updated on Jul 29, 2009

Learn from Mentor Texts

So what is a mentor text and how is it used? Cappelli explains that a mentor text is a book that you go back to again and again, over a period of one, two, or even three years. “We think of a mentor as someone who stands alongside you as you grow, someone you learn from,” Cappelli says. “The true mentor text is the one that you can use for many different purposes. Let’s go back to such and such a book or such and such an author. Let’s see what that author did.” Dorfman suggests that a mentor text actually becomes as familiar and comforting to a child as a friend.

Parents and teachers can use mentor texts to expose children to the “whys” of writing. Stopping and reflecting while reading allows children opportunities to wonder aloud. “Why at this moment did the author use a metaphor?” “Why did the author use a fragment?” “Why does that work here?” Pausing simply to linger and relish words is also beneficial and helps children develop a love for words.

Read Picture Books

Parents shouldn’t make the mistake, Cappelli says, of stopping reading aloud from picture books after children can read independently. “I wouldn’t abandon picture books too early,” Cappelli says. “There is such a plethora of high-level picture books that aren’t written for young kids—that are complex and have deep content, that deal with war and the Holocaust, things you wouldn’t want to read to very young children.”

Cappelli explains that parents can read aloud from picture books at a higher level than children can read on their own. By reading aloud from these books, parents expose their children to new vocabulary and more complex sentence structures. “We want them to hear that rich language that they can’t read on their own,” Cappelli says. “I like picture books because in a short time you can get a whole story.”

So, read often with your children and take time to savor the words. Be aware: passion for writing is contagious.

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