We all have inner drama queens and kings inside us that pop up from time to time as we sigh, “This is the worst day ever!” or “It’s taken forever to drive to grandma’s house!” These exaggerated statements fall under the classification of hyperbole, a literary element that is used to deliberately exaggerate things. Hyperboles are not meant to be taken literally but are used to produce effects of excess in writing and speaking. Listed below are 10 mentor texts that use hyperboles in fun and exciting ways to engage students while they learn about this literary element! In addition, there are teacher tips and commonly-used hyperboles that we have either all used or heard before. Read on to learn about some HYPERBOLE TEXTS AND EXAMPLES THAT EXAGGERATE AND EXCITE!

Let’s start off with mentor texts that incorporate hyperbole. Mentor texts are great aids in helping to teach children about a powerful literary device that they will encounter for the rest of their lives!

My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook

What better way to help children overcome the habit of interrupting than with a comedic and relatable hyperbole? Young Louis’ mouth is a volcano, and his words are overflowing lava that bubble up inside of him and burst out uncontrollably! Louis learns to manage his words and listen respectfully, and so will young readers as they laugh and learn from this entertaining hyperbole.

Teacher tip: Incorporate this hyperbolic lesson into the classroom as reinforcement for undoing the habit of interrupting and encouraging respectful listening amongst children and their peers.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Children prone to grumpy moods will learn that they are not alone in their struggles after reading this story about Alexander, a young boy having a very, very bad day. Not only is it bad, but the day is also horrible—terrible even! Using exaggerated claims about the “badness” of the day, readers will also see how Alexander plays a role in the way his day plays out, and that there are consequences to one’s actions.

Teacher tip: The highlighted hyperbole within this story is the exaggeration of Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Encourage your class to come up with a phrase that uses hyperbole to express an incredibly good day!

A Million Fish… More or Less by Patricia McKissack

The Clapateaux Bayou is an interesting place where young Hugh Thomas’ ancestors once caught a turkey that weighed 500 pounds… more or less. With fishing pole in hand, Hugh discovers the peculiarity of the bayou when he catches three fish… and then a million more (or less). This exciting story uses great hyperboles in following Hugh’s adventure through the bayou.

Teacher tip: Choose a hobby or activity you like to do. Create hyperbole sentences to go along with it. Share them with your peers!

Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith

A young boy by the name of Holler Loudly has an incredibly loud voice. In classrooms, movies, and at the state fair, people are always telling him to “Hush!” Holler’s booming voice comes in handy, however, when he uses it to save his hometown from a twisting tornado.

Teacher tip: This story uses hyperbole in exaggerating the loudness of Holler’s voice. Come up with another weather-based hyperbole (see My Mouth is a Volcano) to utilize in boisterous classrooms. Students should not be made to feel ashamed of their strong voices or excitement of words, but they should be encouraged to learn how to manage their unique gifts in a way that allows for a respectful, communicative classroom environment.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

This mentor text is a hit amongst children and adults with its great imagination and creative use of food as weather phenomena. The town of Chewandswallow is much like any other town, apart from the weather, which comes at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With soup and juice rain, mashed potato snow, and hamburger storms, this fantastical town’s story is perfect for teaching students about the exaggerative effect of hyperboles. But beware, hunger is a commonly reported side effect of reading!

Teacher tip:  Illustrate a section from this book and label it with hyperbole.

American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osbourne

Introduce young readers to classic American tall tales with this handy, hyperbole-filled book! Read about the stories of the king-sized lumberjack, Paul Bunyan, John Henry’s mighty hammer, and more while enjoying rustic illustrations that capture the adventure of the era that boasted the early beginnings of the United States.

Teacher tip: This text includes historical footnotes provided by the author to ground readers in some American history while they enjoy these exaggerated classic tales! Compare and contrast the real history with the exaggeration.

Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osbourne

This book puts a new twist on “Jack and the Beanstalk” with an inspiring heroine by the name of Kate. This young girl has guts as she climbs up the incredibly tall beanstalk to duke it out with the greedy giant in this new spin on a classic fairytale.

Teacher tip: Compare and contrast the hyperbole used in this book with the classic “Jack and the Beanstalk” story.

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-Ji by Farhana Zia

Aneel’s grandparents have come into town from India. His grandfather, Dada-ji, tells Aneel amazing stories about his childhood adventures, which were fueled by fluffy hot roti and a spicy mango pickle. Aneel must figure out how to make hot, hot roti to see if his Dada-ji still has the adventurous powers he did as a child. Told with exciting exaggerations, this text highlights a bit of Indian culture while helping students learn about the writing tool of hyperbole.

Teacher tip: Have students create a list of their favorite foods and write hyperboles to go along with them.

John Henry by Julius Lester

John Henry grew differently than other children. Fast and strong, John grew so tall he burst through the porch roof! Stronger than ten men, John Henry and his two sledgehammers could do just about anything, from digging through a mountain, to crushing big boulders and building roads in the blink of an eye. 

Teacher tip: This is a great cause and effect lesson. Write the hyperbole and the effect of it. (so tall he burst through porch roof- the effect is the damage to the roof; stronger than ten men- the effect is that he could dig through a mountain). 

Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart by Raul Colón

Doña Flor lives in the American Southwest and is known as a giant woman with a giant-sized heart to match. She helps neighbors by providing them with her tortillas for rafts and flowers for trumpets. When the villagers hear a scary noise coming from afar, Doña Flor takes off with her animal friends to defend the town from danger. 

Teacher tip: Draw connections between commonly used hyperbole elements such as the large size of characters or objects that one encounters in Doña Flor and Kate and the Beanstalk.

Examples of Hyperboles:

  1. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!
  2. That light is brighter than the sun!
  3. I have a ton of things to do today.
  4. I lost my sister’s jacket and she is going to kill me!
  5. That house cost me an arm and a leg.
  6. The stray cat was skinnier than a toothpick.
  7. You really knocked it out of the park with that project.
  8. It took forever to get here!
  9. I’m so mad I’m seeing red.
  10. It’s so hot that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.
  11. I was thirsty enough to drink a river!
  12. I died of embarrassment!
  13. She jumped so high that she touched the moon.
  14. My bookbag weighs a ton.
  15. I was drowning in tears by the end of the movie.
  16. I’ve seen this episode a thousand times.
  17. I’ve got a million things to do today.
  18. I could smell a good pizza from a mile away.
  19. This is the worst (best) day of my life!
  20. We made enough food to feed an army.

I hope you found something useful to use with your class! It is great to incorporate into a creative writing unit. Stand back and watch your students’ papers come alive!

A full list of rockin’ recommendations for texts with hyperboles can be found here! 

Keep Rockin’,

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