What are mentors for writing?

Jeff Kinney's advice to young authors: "... actually start by copying somebody else's style. If there is somebody you like, an author or illustrator, what you could do is to try to write another story that's in their style, that's in that same kind of a voice, because I think that when you do that, you learn how that author or illustrator did what they did."


Kelly Gallagher has done some great work with mentor texts. Check out his article in Ed Leadership.

A mentor text is a writer's teacher, those texts that the writer can continues to teach the writer new possibilities. This is a text that can be revisited many times, and as the readers reads from the perspective of a writer, she recognizes a different way of telling her story or a new craft move. Because she is reading like a writer, she slows down her reading and asks how the writer created impact and knocked the breath out of the reader. What did the writer do that made it so difficult to close the book, turn off the light, and go to bed? How did the writer make the character so believable that the reader feels as though she has a new friend? What did the writer do to cause the reader to rethink a long held position?


Mentor texts are pieces of literature that you—both teacher and student—can return to and reread for many different purposes. They are texts to be studied and imitated...Mentor texts help students to take risks and be different writers tomorrow than they as, manuals, essays, almost anything. It helps them to try out new strategies and formats. They should be basically books that students can relate to and can even read independently or with some support. And of course, a mentor text doesn't have to be in the form of a book—a mentor text might be a poem, a newspaper article, song lyrics, comic strip....

---Lynne Dorfman

Check out this from Moving Writers: great paragraph and teaching ideas, and here's another one of their blogs about mentor text and reading like a reader first: Tips for using literature as a mentor.

And a reminder: notice beautiful writing!

How to find mentor text?

From Learning Network: Reflecting on Your Life in 2020