Reprinted courtesy of: Two Writing Teachers
By: Stacey Shubitz
Happy Valentine’s Day! When I was a classroom teacher, I did whatever I could not to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. I bought heart-covered pencils for my students, created a special morning message about Valentine’s Day, and I believe that was it. How boring of me!
Truth be told, I didn’t want to lose a day of class time to special activities. However, there is a way to make Valentine’s Day fun and educational. For instance, one can take a day off from writing workshop (If you’re on-track with the unit you’re in and principal doesn’t mind!) to do some Valentine’s Day writing. You can do a read aloud or two to inspire your students to write poems, comic books, short stories, and artwork. Then your students can give share their pieces with their family or friends after school.
Interested? May I suggest a few mentor texts? I know time is short, but hopefully you can get to your local library or a bookstore this week to pick up one or more of these to help your students get inspired to do some lovely writing. (Pun intended!)
♥♥♥ Hearts by Thereza Rowe (TOON Books) – There’s something so appealing about comic books for many young readers. Often the text in comic books isn’t as easily understood as the pictures. Not the case for TOON Books' books, which are easy to read comic books. ♥♥♥ Hearts is about Penelope Fox who drops her heart into the city and goes on a journey through the land, in the air, and on the sea to retrieve it. This book was written for emerging readers, which means even the youngest writers can emulate the style of this book. Therefore, if you want to inspire your students to write comics for someone special on Valentine’s Day, this book is a sure-to-please mentor text.
Love Monster by Rachel Bright (Farrar Straus Giroux) — This book is ripe with teaching points about the qualities of good writing. This book screams “TEACH VOICE WITH ME!” It’s full of points of ellipses, parenthetical references, and words joined together by hyphens (e.g., I-suppose-a-bit-googly-eyed and moping-around-sort). There’s a very conversational tone to the writing, which makes it — yet again — a great choice for a mentor text when talking about voice with young writers.
Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day Is Cool by Kimberly and James Dean (Harperfestival) — Sometimes kids don’t know what to write on each other’s valentines. If you have some kiddos who aren’t sure what to say, share this book with them and encourage them after read aloud by reminding them what Pete the Cat’s mom told him when he wasn’t sure what to write on his friend’s valentine. “Just tell Larry why he is cool. There is something cool about every cat.” Pete uses his mom’s advice to create valentines for his friends, his bus driver, and the school crossing guard by drawing about what makes each cool. Pete the Cat Valentine’s Day Is Cool is a nod to using drawing as a way to communicate since sometimes we have more than words to tell people what makes them special.
Slightly Older Books
Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love by Pat Mora (Knopf) — If you teach middle or high school, perhaps you’re feeling brave enough to encourage your students to write love poems on Valentine’s Day. If you are, consider picking up a copy of Dizzy in Your Eyes so your students can mentor themselves after one of the many poetic forms Mora uses in this book. I reviewed this book almost four years ago on TWT. Click hereto read more about it now.
I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder (Random House) — Hoping to inspire your students to write some poetry on Valentine’s Day? Seek out a copy of this text, which will inspire them to craft some sweet haikus. Last year I hosted a stop on Betsy Snyder’s I Haiku You Blog Tour. Click here to learn more about I Haiku You and to take a behind the scenes tour from Betsy herself!