Summarizing Mentor Texts

We all know as teachers, that strong mentor texts can help students see and feel a reading skill more clearly.  Through the mentor text, students experience concrete examples of the skill in action or are provided the best possible text to then use the skill themselves.  Some mentor texts are better than others, so finding those just-right books is important!  When teaching summarizing, what are your go-to mentor texts?  I’ve gathered my favorite summarizing mentor texts to share with you below!  And make sure to also check out my best tips for teaching summarizing while you’re here!

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Summarizing Mentor Text #1:  Carnivores

What an absolutely adorable book and I just know your students will love it!  Carnivores is the fictional story about three animals, a wolf, a lion, and a shark who are not happy with the way things are going being carnivores.  They do what they can to change their status but are unsuccessful.  In the end, they embrace their carnivore nature and are happy with who they are.

This is a fun book for teaching summarizing because it gives the students a fun plot to work with.  There are obvious story elements as well as information that is and is not important throughout the story.  This allows the students to practice identifying what should and should not be included in the summary.  This is a must-have for every classroom library!


Mentor Text #2:  A Chair for My Mother

I absolutely love the theme in the book, A Chair for my Mother.  It’s a touching story about a young family who, after losing everything to a house fire, collected coins to help get mother a new chair to relax in after a hard day’s work.  There is lots for students to connect to in this story and a wonderful theme of family and hard work.

This book is perfect for teaching summarizing because it’s a quick moment in time and there’s not a lot of fluff.  Students can easily see how the story translates into a summary, which pieces belong and which do not, and practice how to summarize a short fictional story.  I also love it because the story structure is a bit different than typical fictional stories.  The fire that takes place occurs in the middle of the book even though it happens first in the story.  This allows students a typical summarizing hurdle that they may encounter in other texts as well.

Summarizing Mentor Text #3:  The Junkyard Wonders

Teachers – this is a must-read for all teachers and students!  It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching summarizing or not, this heartfelt story will touch you all.  It will be on you remember for years to come!  The Junkyard Wonders is about a young girl who, while at a new school, finds out that her class is called the ‘Junkyard Class’.  The students in the class are special and with the help of their amazing teacher, they realize their greatness and call themselves the “Junkyard Wonders”.  You will thank me!

This is a great book for teaching summarizing because it’s a story that includes so much detail.  Students need to practice really identifying what needs to be included to write a summary.  This book is great to practice teaching too little, too much, and just right summary writing.  This is one of the activities I include in my Summarizing Unit!

My summarizing unit is FULL of lesson plans with hands-on approaches to teaching summarizing!  Definitely make sure to check it out!

Mentor Text #4:  The Librarian of Basra

A great story that includes a diverse character and setting, The Librarian of Basra is a powerful true story about the librarian of the city of Basra in Iraq during the war.  The librarian was worried that the books would be destroyed during the war.  She did everything she could do to hide the books so the soldiers couldn’t find them and destroy them.

This story is a different genre than most fictional stories and makes great practice for teaching summarizing!  The simple plot lays out perfect practice for students trying to determine what goes into the summary and what does not.  Definitely a must-have for every classroom!



Summarizing Mentor Text #5:  The Other Side

 The Other Side is a great story about a young black girl and a young white girl who, despite being separated by a fence and segregation, become friends.  The fence becomes a symbol of segregation where the girls are physically and emotionally divided.  Many stories about segregation are typically told from the eyes of the adults but this story is told from the eyes of the children.

It’s a fantastic story for teaching summarizing because the students are able to distinguish between important versus unimportant events.  With the theme and focus being very prevalent in this story, it’s great practice for students to identify events in the summary to support the theme.


Did you find any new summarizing mentor texts to add to your classroom?  Make sure to hop back up and take a look at the summarizing unit if you’re looking for some new and unique activities to try as well!  If you want to save this blog post for later, please pin the image below!

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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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