Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dogs and Cats? Cats and Dogs?

You just can't go wrong with Steve Jenkins.  I was in the library with my third graders this week and I ran across this gem.  I'm adding a copy to my Steve Jenkins collection. 
     I'm always looking for great mentor text for my students, especially well-written nonfiction text.  In this collection, the author's writing is fabulous... especially the short chunks of text that show readers how well-organized paragraphs should be written.  Paragraphs that are not phony or contrived (no pink, yellow, or green strips of paper required... no fake five-paragraph voiceless essays), but serve as examples of real-world writing.  Paragraphs that have one purpose, to alert the reader to move into a new thought, a new idea, a new topic.  Ah, paragraphs that are real.
     Why do we write in paragraphs anyway?  Katie Wood Ray reminds us that, "The flow of your text should determine the length of your paragraph."  And, if we want students to write under the influence of great writing, Steve Jenkins provides rich, well-written pieces about interesting subjects.  Thoughtfully.  A great text to teach from without suspending what we know about good writing.  
     And, if you like dogs... perfect choice.  If you like cats... perfect choice.  This is a terrific (although not new) book with the paper-cut illustrations the author is famous for... combined with well-researched writing.  Thanks once more, Mr. Jenkins!

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