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Click this link for a linky full of other suggestions!

The students in my co-op writing class (who are in first to fourth grade) really struggle with starting a story. For the most part, every story starts with “Once there was….” and goes from there. “Once upon a time…” is a close second. I cannot get them to think outside of the box.

So we will be working on today’d Mentor Monday subject (Lively Leads) for the next few weeks as we work on building ideas for stories and narratives. What a perfect time to revisit favorite books to see what works well…and what does not! I can’t wait to see what other texts are suggested!


My first mentor text suggestion for lively leads is one I’ve already used before in our class: “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern… That first line of Charlotte’s Web is, I think, the most quoted first line when one begins a lesson on good first lines! (Emily quoted it on her first post of this link up!) It is so lively, so intriguing, that one cannot help but keep reading the next few lines to see what will happen next.

After Charlotte’s Web, I thought of familiar tale retold: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs┬áby Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. The Three Little Pigs is a familiar story to most kids, so when the story begins as it does

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Who can resist reading on, once we know there is another side of the story?

one cannot help but wonder how the story has been retold from the wolf’s point of view. If he’d started with “One upon a time…” we would hardly want to turn the page. As it is, by the time “Once upon a time time” comes (a few pages later), we are dying to find out the “real story.” This could be a great picture book for encouraging students to create their own leads based on fairy tales retold!

My last suggestion for lively leads is probably not an anticipated one, since the story itself has, mostly, the same two words. The lively lead for No, David! by David Shannon is in the illustrations. The cover, true, gives a little hint to David’s naughtiness, but the first page begins with some lovely wall art that underscores the strength of the words.

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The illustration serves as a perfect introduction for David’s exploits!

Little kids reading this book will probably relate to the “Uh Oh!” factor of seeing crayons on walls. (I’m currently at the point of desperately hoping my daughter will at some point realize this is a big NO NO herself!) The entire picture book is full of child-like illustrations certain to bring kids to echoing “No, David!” themselves as they laugh at the naughty misbehavior . . . and as they relate to the unconditional love from a mother at the end of the book. That first illustration can bring them in.

I linked up with the Reading Tutor/OG today!

Which texts would you use to demonstrate a lively lead to your students?

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