I have to admit I've never really understood how to use mentor texts until the ReFoReMo challenge. I used to just read a book, take mental notes of the books I love, and put it in my special stack for inspiration. That's where it ended. I had a stack of books staring me in the face saying, "now what?"
The author-educators who guest-blogged during the ReFoReMo event helped me understand HOW to use picture books as mentor texts. They were all fabulous, but below are some of the posts that stood out to me:
Tara Lazar- Tara discussed the importance of hooking a reader with COVER, TITLE, SUBJECT MATTER, and PLOT TWISTS. By asking myself, "What draws me to a book?" I can pinpoint what makes it so attractive and engaging.
Marcie Colleen- Marcie shared books that inspired MOOD, STYLE, THEME, and PLOT ARC while creating her upcoming stories. Now, when I find a book I love, I draft a story that carries out the same style and tone to help me develop the skill.
Susanna Leonard Hill- Susanna helped me to look at elements of picture books at a deeper level. Sure, many of the books have them, but which one makes a book stand out and why? Susanna's post inspired me to write down specifics and look for examples in the text that support the lovely LANGUAGE, lovable CHARACTER, or satisfying ENDING.
Throughout the ReFoReMo challenge, I collected questions from the ReFoReMo author-educators and formed some of my own to help me with my research. As a result, I created my own worksheet that I fill out whenever I find a picture book I LOVE.
Some people like to read mentor texts and let them absorb organically. I'm more technical, and need to analyze books in writing to help me process it better.
Going through my questions and writing them out as an exercise was an epiphany for me. By citing specific examples from the book like what makes me want to read the book over again or what made me fall in love with the character was a revelation. Mentor texts finally make sense to me.
With the information I gathered, I am now able to write my stories with purpose and direction. I am excited about my revisions and turning my ordinary manuscripts into something extraordinary!
I hope my worksheet inspires you, too. Feel free to revise it according to your preference. Happy researching!
THANK YOU Carrie Charley Brown and ReFoReMo participants!
Thank YOU, Romelle! Your worksheet is GREAT!
Romelle Broas is a dental hygienist by day, writer by night, and mother all the time. She is the author of several eBooks. Her latest release, RUNNING BOY, is published by MeeGeenius. Romelle also writes nonfiction under the name of Romelle Guittap. Her writing has been featured in FACES, Boys' Quest, Stories for Children, and Skipping Stone. You can find her blogging about her journey to becoming a picture book writer and meandering around in the kidlit community.