The Narrative Writing Toolkit : Using Mentor Texts in Grades 3-8 book cover
1st Edition

The Narrative Writing Toolkit
Using Mentor Texts in Grades 3-8

ISBN 9781138101531
Published April 11, 2016 by Routledge
170 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In order for students to write effective narratives, they need to read good narratives. In this practical book, you’ll find out how to use mentor texts to make narrative writing instruction more meaningful, authentic, and successful. Author Sean Ruday demonstrates how you can teach elementary and middle school students to analyze the qualities of effective narratives and then help them think of those qualities as tools to improve their own writing. You’ll learn how to:

  • Introduce your students to the key features of a successful narrative, such as engaging the reader, organizing an event sequence, and crafting a strong conclusion.
  • Assess students’ writing by evaluating the specific attributes of an effective narrative.
  • Make narrative writing an interactive, student-driven exercise in which students pursue their own writing projects.
  • Use mentor texts to help students learn the core concepts of narrative writing and apply those skills across the curriculum.
  • Encourage students to incorporate technology and multimedia as they craft their narratives.

The book is filled with examples and templates you can bring back to the classroom immediately, as well as an annotated bibliography with mentor text suggestions and links to the Common Core. You’ll also find a study guide that will help you use this book for professional development with colleagues.

Bonus: Blank templates of the handouts are available as printable eResources on our website (

Table of Contents


Meet the Author


Introduction The New Era of Narrative Writing

Section One: Narrative Writing Strategies Aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Grades 3-8

Chapter One Engaging and Orienting the Reader

Chapter Two Organizing an Event Sequence

Chapter Three Developing Experiences and Events

Chapter Four Incorporating Characterization

Chapter Five Including Transitional Language

Chapter Six Using Concrete Words and Phrases

Chapter Seven Creating Sensory Details

Chapter Eight Crafting a Strong Conclusion

Section Two: Putting it Together

Chapter Nine Assessment Strategies

Chapter Ten Final Thoughts and Recommendations for Classroom Practice

Section Three: Resources

Appendix A Reproducible Charts and Forms You Can Use in Your Classroom

Appendix B A Guide for Book Studies

Annotated Bibliography Excerpts from Published Works Featured in this Book, Aligned with Specific Common Core Standards


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Sean Ruday is Assistant Professor of English Education at Longwood University. He is also the author of The Argument Writing Toolkit, The Informational Writing Toolkit, The Common Core Grammar Toolkit, Grades 6-8, and The Common Core Grammar Toolkit, Grades 3-5.


"This book focuses on the ‘what,’ the ‘why,’ and the ‘how’ of narrative writing with resources and real classroom examples to support the teaching suggestions and sequences. The strategies are effectively organized with the goal of the gradual release of responsibility. Each of the narrative standards is clearly divided and ‘unwrapped’ for the reader with practical classroom examples and graphic organizers. Ruday takes the overwhelming feeling out of teaching narrative writing." --Karina Nevers, Learning Strategist, Gibson Elementary School, Henderson, Nevada

"The Narrative Writing Toolkit has great usefulness for language arts teachers in grades 3-8 and beyond. Not only does the book clarify the Common Core State Standards for narrative writing, but it also breathes life into the standards through the engaging use of mentor texts and classroom narratives. I even plan to use some of these techniques to teach my college courses. There is always a need to focus on ways to present material, illustrate it with mentor texts, let the students practice with group activities, and then let the students be able to take responsibility for the material in their own writing." --Sharon Saylors, Associate Professor of English, Prince George’s Community College, Largo, Maryland, and Co-President, Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar, an NCTE affiliate