top of page

8 Considerations When Using A Mentor Text for Reading Instruction

Updated: May 22, 2023

How do you use a mentor text?

First and foremost, read the text as a read aloud to become familiar with the text.

It’s important for children to be familiar with a text and understand the gist before returning to it for strategy instruction.

When you use a mentor text, students should have a general understanding of the text and its structure before you can expect them to dig deeper into strategy work.

When do I teach from a mentor text?

When you are preparing minilessons to build on a particular strategy or skill, you may wish to use a familiar text to illustrate or demonstrate that work for students.

Mentor texts can be used for minilessons, individual conferences or small group instruction.

How can I revisit a mentor text in a minilesson?

When choosing a mentor text to use, think about what your readers need to gain and which texts will best support that work.

Think about which texts will help readers achieve what they need and what will demonstrate the strategy or skill.

Multiple teaching points in one text

Use this little tool to guide your thinking about using a particular text during a reading minilesson. OR...print out this little sheet to jot down your thinking about how you could use the text during your minilessons. Then, add your notes to your own personal teaching points index file (curriculum file, teaching binder, lesson plan book or whatever you call it).

BAM! When it's time to plan a particular lesson, all you have to do is thumb your little index of teaching points to find the best text to support your readers' needs. You will already have done the hard work.

What part of the text will I use?

After determining which texts are available to best demonstrate the skill or strategy, decide on the piece you will use in the minilesson. The piece where you will get “more for your buck”!

How will I use the text to teach the strategy or skill?

How will I engage my readers in the text use?

Decide how you will interact with the text to demonstrate or model the strategy or skill use.

You also must decide how your students will engage in trying out the strategy or skill in the selected mentor text.

An anchor chart could be made during any of the following text interactions.

There are several options…

  • You could show your students how the author crafted the piece and what the author expects of readers to build comprehension of the text.

  • You could model reading the selected part of the text and think aloud as a reader. This will model how a proficient reader applies the strategy or skill to build comprehension.

  • You could display and read the selected text to your readers and nudge them with open-ended questioning to “have a go” at using the strategy or skill.

  • You could display and read the selected text to your readers to gather information about how they build comprehension in the text. Then, you could connect a strategy name with what your readers did to understand the text.

  • You could display and read the selected text with the students and share the responsibility of making meaning using the strategy or skill. Students could be engaged in a line of questioning with support from you to use the strategy or skill.

How will my readers be able to access the text after the lesson for reference?

Young readers need to have access to mentor texts that are used during the minilesson.

  • You could create a copied version of the chunk of text that you used for students to keep in their readers’ notebook or folder.

  • You may also display the part of the mentor text alongside the teaching points on an anchor chart.

  • You may have a class set of the selected text so each one of your readers will have their own copy of the text. They can mark and label the strategy or skill inside the book with a post-it note or bookmark.

Will there be other mentor texts to illustrate the same strategy or skill?

Providing different options of familiar texts where readers can apply the same skill or strategy is always a good option.

You may have used several parts of a mentor text within your minilesson.

You may have several different texts in which you engaged your readers in working through using the strategy or skill.

Keep these texts in a central location so that your readers can go back and reread whenever necessary.

Until next time...



bottom of page