Teaching students how to use Word Choice in their writing can be difficult. Often times they use simple words in their writing. Guide students to use more vibrant words by pointing them out in a rich mentor text. It is a powerful teaching tool! Do you need vibrant mentor text to teach word choice? Read on! I will provide a suggested list with book summaries, what type of word choice you can find in each book, and a teaching activity to go with it!

If you are looking for a wider list, go to my WORD CHOICE AMAZON SUGGESTION LIST. You might have one of these on your library shelf!

With swirling illustrations, this rhythmic read is full of interesting word choices for students to learn and discuss. Funky metaphors and jazzy slang words move along the story and illustrate the colorful life of Duke Ellington and his ragtime music. It is one of my favorites for studying word choice!

Word Choice Highlights: Vivid Verbs, Figurative Language- Onomatopoeia, simile, metaphors

Teaching Idea: Have students choose a sentence and illustrate it. You will be amazed at how they make the words come alive!

An unsuspecting tennis ball disrupts the harmony of an underground town of prairie dogs, inciting a frenzy of green fuzz! A humorous story about the importance of community and sharing, The Great Fuzz Frenzy is a great way to combine learning and fun within the classroom. With examples in onomatopoeia, strong verbs, and comedic stylization, this prairie dog parable serves as a great mentor text for teaching word choice, as well as the importance of comradery.

Word Choice Highlights: Vivid Verbs, Alliteration, Word Play, Onomatopoeia, Descriptive Words

Teaching Idea: Have students choose something else that could be dropped in the prairie dog hole. Write about how the prairie dogs react. Use figurative language and strong verbs in the writing.

This poetic picture book is illustrated with award-winning watercolor paintings. It tells the story of a young girl and her father on their nighttime stroll looking for owls. Within this dreamy story is a great lesson in word choice where students can begin to identify which words help to create a rich, sensory experience.

Word Choice Highlights: Specific details, Sensory Words, Adjectives

Teacher Idea: Have your students close their eyes while you read a page or two. Ask students to visualize or draw the scene and then discuss which words contributed the most to their visions!

Come On, Rain! tells the story of a girl’s plea for rain to relieve the city from the sweltering heat. Figurative language helps readers imagine the intense heat of the story’s setting and build up anticipation for the resolve of the much-awaited downpour at the end of the book. In addition to strong examples of word choice, this book can also be used for a science lesson in weather!

Word Choice Highlights: Vivid Verbs, Imagery, Specificity, Figurative Language, Sensory Words, and Adjectives that sparkle!

Teacher Tips:  What changes do you see in the events or characters? Chart the changes and any words from the story that describe these changes.

Any student will enjoy following the queen of chicken chasing on her attempt to capture the uncatchable Miss Hen in this exciting story. With fun hijinks and bold illustrations, readers will be swept up in this wild chicken chase and its extensive use of onomatopoeia!

Word Choice Highlights: Onomatopoeia, other Figurative Language

Teacher Tips:  Have students look at the bold illustrations and create vivid verbs and figurative language to describe them.

This biography features the life of an African American opera singer, Marian Anderson, and her great strength of character in breaking barriers of pre-Civil Rights America. Anderson’s courage and bravery are expressed through strong word choice, making this a great mentor text for teaching about word choice, as well as American history.

Word Choice Highlights:   Figurative Language, Sensory Words, Specific details

Teacher Tips:  Make a chart of sensory words:  Listen, touch, see, taste, smell. List words found in the story under each category.

While people dream, the nighttime world comes to life! On a night in the country, readers will discover what the natural world does during the hours of darkness. The strong sensory words and verbs spark the imagination and strengthen the story.

Word Choice Highlights: Sensory Words, Vivid Verbs

Teacher Tip:  Have students pretend that the things around their house come to life at night. Tell a story about one of those nights. Use sensory words and vivid words.

This mentor text presents the alphabet to readers in the form of a twenty-six-act play! With whimsical black-and-white illustrations, this book features each letter and an accompanying alliterative mishap, ex: “The A was in an avalanche.” The strong alliteration and bold illustrations will draw in any reader.

Word Choice Highlights: Alliteration

Teacher Tip: After reading through the story, assign letters to the students to create new mishaps for each letter. Use alliteration!

This mentor text follows the daring travels of a young runaway slave and the uncertain path she is faced with on her journey to freedom. Rich paintings and vivid figurative language craft this complex story in a way that is easily digestible for young readers. It inspires learning in word choice as well as African American history.

Word Choice Highlights: Figurative Language, Vivid Verbs, Adjectives

Teacher Tip: Give each student a square and have them develop a quilt pattern and color it. Then place one strong adjective to describe themselves on the square. Put the squares together like a quilt.

Told from the perspective of Essie William’s grandson, this turn-of-the-century American story illustrates the life of early pioneers in their journey across the Midwest. Filled with descriptive word choice, memorable details, and colorful illustrations, this mentor text perfectly combines lessons on word choice and history!

Word Choice Highlights: Imagery, Vivid Verbs

Teacher Tip: Since traveling west was fulfilling a dream, have students write about their dream of something in the future. Use imagery and vivid words.

I hope this gave you some ideas to use mentor text for Word Choice!






Are you looking for a full writing program? Check out the STEP-BY-STEP Writing Program® available for Grades 1-8 designed that scaffolds through each type of writing with modeling through every step.  It includes EVERYTHING you need to teach writing for the year:  Anchor charts, mentor text, interactive notebook pages, practice, modeling, tracking charts, students resources, graphic organizers, examples, paragraph writing, narrative writing, opinion writing, informative writing, prompts, checklists, rubrics, etc etc.


Keep rockin’ your writing instruction!