I am halfway through a 3-year reading/language arts training program at my school district. The training has been wonderful, but rebuilding our entire ELA curriculum from the ground up has been overwhelming. Fortunately, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My “big picture” understanding has also sharpened so I feel more confident about where we are going as a district. One of the key components of this new training has been the use of mentor sentences and texts. I love using real, authentic literature with my students. However…mentor texts are not free, and there’s not a lot of money for buying them. My short-term solution? Using online children’s books as mentor texts. It’s free when you search YouTube® and the multimedia aspect is fun for kids.
Mentor Text Dilemma
When my students were getting ready to begin our opinion unit of study, I needed a great mentor text as a model for their writing. I’ve written about how I use mentor texts to immerse my students in the type of writing we will be studying in a previous post. My awesome trainer pointed me toward A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea by Michael Ian Black. It’s great! Money was tight for me that month and I just didn’t want to shell out $15 (no matter how worthy) for another classroom expense. Then I remembered that there are many online children’s books available for free. Why not check out YouTube? I certainly didn’t have anything to lose.
Online Children’s Books to the Rescue
I found the exact book I needed for FREE on YouTube. The reader did a great job of reading the story with enthusiasm and charm. I immediately linked it to my Google Classroom and we were in business! While I will always love having the “real” book in my hands, one big advantage to using online children’s books is that every student can easily see the illustrations while watching the video either on their Chromebook or displayed on my interactive whiteboard.
Resources for Online Mentor Texts
Next time you need a mentor text and you can’t afford (yet!) to buy your own copy, check out the Internet. There are several websites besides YouTube (some districts block that site). Check out the links below for some online children’s books you can use in your classroom. Worried about the ads and comments on YouTube? Check out ViewPure and clean up the videos you find. It’s a free, easy-to-use resource that will remove the ads from any video you want to use.
What mentor texts do you use for teaching? Share your favorite titles in the comments below. Happy Teaching!