By Kourtney LaFavre
Finding Mentor Texts for Social Emotional Learning
Welcome back! I have previously written about SEL, social-emotional-learning here. Today, I thought we could dive in to why mentor texts are important for writers and check out some great, recent examples. Writing children's books that focus on SEL is an opportunity to instill emotional intelligence, empathy, and resilience in young minds. As a children's book writer, finding mentor texts can be immensely valuable in honing your storytelling skills and understanding how to effectively incorporate SEL themes into your narratives.
Why Mentor Texts for Writers?
Mentor texts serve as guides and inspirations for writers by offering practical examples of how to craft engaging stories with strong SEL elements. By studying the structure, character development, and themes of successful books, aspiring authors can deepen their understanding of the genre and refine their storytelling techniques. Mentor texts not only spark creativity but also offer insights into what resonates with young readers, making them indispensable tools for any writer aspiring to create impactful children's books on SEL.
Here are 4 mentor texts to get you started:
Mentor texts serve as a valuable resources for writers of children's books on Social Emotional Learning. The selected books exemplify the power of storytelling in nurturing emotional intelligence, empathy, and resilience in young readers. By studying these recently published works, writers can gain deeper insights into the craft of writing SEL-focused children's literature and create meaningful stories that leave a lasting impact on their young audience. Embrace the wisdom of mentor texts, and embark on a journey to craft compelling narratives that inspire, educate, and uplift young hearts.
Happy reading and writing!
by Bryan Patrick Avery
It’s been a hectic (but still fun) year for me. This Fall, my 20th book will be published. I was talking to a friend about this milestone and they asked me a question I hadn’t considered: “Do you ever get burned out?” The question stumped me for a moment. Then, I realized that, no, I don’t get burned out.
So, how do I avoid getting burned out? To be honest, I can’t claim that I do this on purpose. It just stems from what I like to read and write. I write across formats (e.g. prose, verse, graphic novel), reading levels (e.g. picture books, chapter books, middle grade) and genre (e.g. realistic, mystery, science fiction).
My next project is also a bit different than my last, so I get to approach storytelling from a new perspective each time. It’s challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. If you find yourself getting burned out, or even just a little but stuck. Try branching out into new territory. You may find it helps unleash your creativity and boosts your enthusiasm. Not sure where to start? Here area few of my suggestions for reading in some of my favorite genres to give you some mentor text to get you started
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Magic Tree House #7: Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborne
The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith, illustrated by Mari Lobo
Middle Grade Mysteries
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Murder on the Safari Star by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman
Chester Keene Cracks the Code by Kekla Magoon
School Trip by Jerry Craft
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
Novels in Verse
Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes
Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech
Alone by Megan E. Freeman
I have a lot of books on my shelves but, lately, these are the ones I’ve been turning to for inspiration in my own writing. Give one or two (or all) of them a try.
Well, that’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month.
Bryan Patrick Avery is an award-winning poet and author of more than a dozen books for children including the middle grade collective biography, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, illustrated by Nikita Leanne and THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White. Bryan is also the author of the middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, which appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, the Jake Maddox JV Mysteries OFF BASE and SOCCER SUSPICIONS, the early chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra, and the picture books EARL LEARNS A LESSON and MAX’S MAGIC CHANGE, both illustrated by Roman Diaz. He is the 2021 recipient of the SCBWI Work in Progress Award for his chapter book mystery THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY.
Bryan serves on the Board of Directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is an Amplify Black Stories Fellow, a joint program presented by the Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation. Bryan lives in Northern California with his family.
By Melissa Stoller
Where I live, July means summer fun in the sun! Summertime often means a break from school, time for family vacation and activities, delicious summer treats, and more.
Here are seasonal prompts to help you make the most of your writing time this month:
Image from Canva
1) Think about your childhood summer plans. Did they include time at the beach, a lake, or a mountain retreat? Did you eat s’mores in front of a camp fire and tell ghost stories? Did you have a favorite ice cream shop? Remember a specific summer setting and brainstorm a paragraph based on that place.
2) Did you have a job during your summers? What do you remember most about these experiences? Could you include any facts into a current or future manuscript? Think about a past boss or co-worker and draft a character sketch.
3) Did you attend summer camp or other types of lessons or programs? Could any of those memories of your experiences work their way into a story draft? Think of one possible main character from a summer camp and write a first line.
I hope these summer prompts help you find and cultivate sizzling summer ideas this month. Let me know in the comments!
Melissa Stoller writes to bring connection, joy, and a bit of magic to her readers. She is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island, and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; Sadie’s Shabbat Stories; Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom; and Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Lovvorn and Shirin Rahman). Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Rate Your Story Judge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, a Book Meshuggenahs member, a Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Advisory Council member, and a past school and synagogue Trustee. She also interviews authors and offers resources on her blog. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer/editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and Central Park walks. Melissa is represented by Jonathan Rosen at The Seymour Agency.
CONNECT WITH MELISSA:
By Shirin Shamsi
Often times writing can be a solitary experience - at least that’s how I write. Solitary and alone with my thoughts, I escape into my world of imagination. I dig deep as I step into my zone of:
But then there are times when I attend conferences, to meet others, to learn, to be inspired, and to receive confirmation that what we are doing is important. It’s where I meet others who have a shared love of books, of reading, of writing - my bookish people! I recently attended the American Library Association Annual Conference, which happened to be in my own back yard - Chicago. There were fifteen thousand in attendance throughout the week-long event. It was huge. It was magnificent.
I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy and gratitude. Meeting librarians, educators, and authors from across the country was simply magical! It was a time of replenishment, of in-person meetings and connection with friends some whom I’ve only ever known online. I highly recommend you take time out of your solitary work to sign up for an event in your area. Whether it be an annual conference or a regional event, it’s important to connect with other writers, and also with librarians and educators.
One mother came clutching my book in her hands, tears in her eyes. She thanked me for writing my book. She thanked me for allowing her daughter to feel seen in the pages of my story. I was lost for words, overcome with emotion, and overwhelmed with gratitude.
It’s why I write. It’s why we write.
Shirin Shamsi has lived on three continents. She moved to the USA over three decades ago, where she has raised six children - three human and 3 feline. She now spends her days writing, sketching, painting and reading. School visits and reading to children are some of her greatest joys. Shirin has twelve published books, and is working on numerous works-in-progress.
Laila and the Sands of Time (Clear Fork Publishing, 2019) is her middle grade novel.
Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom and Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Lovvorn and Melissa Stoller, illustrated by Kate Talbot 2021)
Zahra’s Blessing: A Ramadan Story (Barefoot Books 2022)
The Moon From Dehradun (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2022)
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature our new blogger coming soon.
4th Mondays features new blogger, the fabulous Brentom Jackson, who has a beautiful approach to blogging.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break