How to Organize Reading and Writing Mentor Texts

Hey there, fellow teachers! Today, we’re diving into the wonderful world of organizing reading and writing mentor texts. We all know just how valuable these texts can be in shaping our students’ literacy skills. They serve as models and sources of inspiration. But here’s the thing: to truly harness the power of reading and writing mentor texts, we need to get organized! In this blog post, we’ll explore some tried-and-true strategies for effectively organizing mentor texts in our classrooms.

1. Gather a List of Book Titles

The list shown above is actually a freebie you can download! Check out the Mentor Text Organization Pages freebie here!

When it comes to organizing mentor texts for each reading and writing standard, it’s all about having a stash of awesome book titles and ideas ready to go. So, where do you find them? There are many blog posts that highlight great mentor texts for each standard. Here are a few blog posts I’ve outlined for different reading standards!

Other options are suggestions from your state or district. Many school systems may provide you with a list of suggested mentor texts for reading and writing. You could also hop into a Facebook group (like The Nest for Elementary Teachers) and ask your teaching peers what mentor text they use for a given standard or topic!

2. Choose Which Way You Want to Organize Your Reading and Writing Mentor Texts

Alright, let’s talk about storing those mentor texts! There are a couple of nifty ways you can keep your collection in order. One classic option is a good ol’ shelf. Arrange your mentor texts on the shelf, either alphabetically, by genre, or by writing traits. It’s like having a mini library right in your classroom! Another option to consider is using book buckets. Grab some colorful bins or buckets, and label them with different categories like “narrative,” “informational,” or “poetry.” Then, plop those mentor texts into the matching buckets. It’s a fun and accessible way for students to grab a book that aligns with their interests or the writing focus of the day. (We will talk about labeling them next!) Any links you see for book storage below may be affiliate links to Amazon.

Shelf Options:

Separate Book Storage Options:

3. Label Your Books For Easy Finding!

Alright, let’s chat about how to label those mentor texts and keep things super organized! One simple and handy trick is to use Post-it notes. Grab a stack of those colorful sticky squares and get ready to transform your mentor texts. Simply jot down the specific reading or writing standard that each book covers on a post-it note, and stick it right on the cover or spine of the book. Voila! Now, at a glance, you’ll know exactly which standard each book aligns with. Another option is removable book tape! This tape is safe for books. You can stick it right on the spine of the book and write with a Sharpie on the edge which standard it covers. The spine labels may only work for hardback books, though. So those paperbacks will have better labeling luck with Post-Its!

4. Track Your Books Throughout the Year

Let’s talk about how to keep track of all those amazing mentor texts you’ve been using throughout the year. One handy trick is to create a good ol’ checklist. Whenever you use a mentor text in your lessons, simply check it off or mark the corresponding column. This way, you’ll have a clear visual of which mentor texts you’ve covered and which ones you haven’t. Plus, it’s super flexible, so you can customize your checklist based on your own preferences and teaching needs. If you want a free checklist, I have a free mentor text checklist just for you! One template is just to gather a list of titles for a given skill (writing, fiction text, and nonfiction text are provided). The other template helps you plan week by week what your standard focus is!


When you sign up for my email list, this Mentor Text Organization freebie will be sent directly to your inbox. Check your email after this!

5. Bonus: Add Your Talking Points and Significant Details Prior

Now for the hardest part… Annotating and marking up the texts prior to your lessons. When diving into mentor texts, it’s essential to take notes and mark those crucial talking points. Grab a pen or use sticky tabs to annotate your mentor texts as you explore them. Jot down your thoughts, underline key passages, or circle important words or phrases. You can also use symbols or abbreviations to highlight specific elements like character development, vivid descriptions, or effective dialogue. These notes and marks will serve as valuable reminders for future discussions or lesson planning.

Thanks for reading this blog post all about organizing your mentor texts. I have two YouTube videos you may also like! One is a Facebook Live that I converted into a video and it’s all about how to use mentor texts. Then, I made another video all about organizing your mentor texts like we discussed here!


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