33 Mentor Texts for Opinion Writing
In today’s world, we want our teaching to inspire students to be forward thinkers and changemakers. Teaching them how to share their opinions in writing is a key ingredient. Let’s get kids making signs and writing letters, lists, reviews, essays, blog posts, and speeches! Check out some of our favorite opinion-writing mentor texts to bring this important genre to life for kids. We’ve got plenty of picture books for the younger set, and titles to help older kids make the leap to persuasive writing backed by researched facts.
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1. We Disagree by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
A mouse and a squirrel think differently about, well, everything. Can they ever be friends? This is such a cute title for introducing kids to what it means to share an opinion, and it could lead to plenty of writing prompts to open an opinion-writing unit.
Buy it: We Disagree on Amazon
2. I Love Insects by Lizzy Rockwell
This early reader should definitely be in your primary classroom collection of opinion-writing mentor texts to help introduce the genre. Do you love insects? Two kids give competing reasons for why and why not. Read it aloud and head straight into shared writing of a list of pros and cons.
Buy it: I Love Insects on Amazon
3. Usha and the Big Digger by Amitha Jagannath Knight
To introduce kids to opinion writing, you need opinion-writing mentor texts to teach them what “opinions” are—and Usha, Aarti, and Gloria have them in this book! They each see something different when they look at the stars. This book could lead to a great introduction activity in which students try to convince each other that they see the Big Dipper, a “Big Digger,” a “Big Kite …” or something else. (Hint: It’s all in your perspective!)
Buy it: Usha and the Big Digger on Amazon
4. Don’t Feed the Bear by Kathleen Doherty
When a park ranger puts up a “Don’t Feed the Bear” reminder, he has no idea about the persuasive sign-writing battle he’ll set in motion. (Strategic language includes “Please feed the ranger rotten eggs and slimy spinach.”) Share this hilarious title to introduce students to using signs to influence others’ thinking.
Buy it: Don’t Feed the Bear on Amazon
5. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Let a favorite character guide young students in the art of persuasion. The bus driver does not want Pigeon in the driver’s seat, but the well-known bird builds an emotional and unrelenting case.
Buy it: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! on Amazon
6. Our Favorite Day of the Year by A.E. Ali
We adore sharing this book with young students to open inclusive conversations about favorite holidays and traditions. Each student in Musa’s class shares about their favorite day of the year, from Eid Al-Fitr to Pi Day. Use this book to prompt kids to write their own opinion pieces about their favorite days, and to model how reasoning, information, and anecdotes can support one’s opinion.
Buy it: Our Favorite Day of the Year on Amazon
7. Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea by Meena Harris
This true story from Kamala Harris’ childhood details how she and her sister wrote letters to their landlord until he agreed to let them build a playground in their apartment complex courtyard. Get kids excited about how their opinion writing could create real change!
Buy it: Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea on Amazon
8. If I Were President by Trygve Skaug
A young boy talks at length about what he’d do differently if he ran the country. Maybe cars could run on legs instead of gasoline, and “playing” should be a subject taught in school. Share this with kids who need more ideas for opinion-writing topics!
Buy it: If I Were President on Amazon
9. The Little Book of Little Activists by Penguin Young Readers
Introduce young students to the idea of activism and its connection to opinion writing. This inspiring photo essay includes examples of kids’ opinions about real-life causes and many written signs.
Buy it: The Little Book of Activists on Amazon
10. The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan
This protagonist is a toddler on a mission—a mission to kick her dad out of her parents’ bed so she can sleep with her mom. Use this little girl’s precocious modeling to show students how to polish their own opinion writing by adding visual supports.
Buy it: The Big Bed on Amazon
11. The Perfect Pet by Margie Palatini
Elizabeth crafts a plan to convince her parents to let her have a pet, with unexpected—but pleasing—results. This is our favorite opinion-writing mentor text for introducing kids to win-win solutions and encouraging them to suggest them in their own opinion writing.
Buy it: The Perfect Pet on Amazon
12. & 13. Can I Be Your Dog? and I Found a Kitty! by Troy Cummings
First, read a collection of persuasive letters from a lonely dog seeking an owner that’s a twist on kids’ pet requests. Each letter is tailored to a specific audience, with Arfy promising to lick things clean, protect, and deliver endless affection.
In the sequel, Arfy uses his persuasive skills to help someone else, a lovable stray kitten. Notice with students how he once again shapes his reasoning for each recipient—and how he doesn’t give up until he’s successful!
Buy it: Can I Be Your Dog? on Amazon
Buy it: I Found a Kitty! on Amazon
14. True You: A Gender Journey by Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner
This delightful and important title stars real kids with a full range of gender identities. Each child introduces themselves in a speech bubble that shares their opinion about gender identity. Use this title to model talking to the reader using strong, direct language.
Buy it: True You: A Gender Journey on Amazon
15. Stella Writes an Opinion by Janiel Wagstaff
Sometimes you want perfectly straightforward opinion-writing mentor texts that match right up with your teaching goals. Stella thinks second graders should be able to have a morning snack time. She sets out to write about her opinion, state her reasons, and ends with a compelling summation.
Buy it: Stella Writes an Opinion on Amazon
16. I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff
After his successful angling for a pet in I Wanna Iguana, Alex tries using note-writing to broach his next request: a room of his own, away from his pesky younger brother. The parent-child communication includes plenty of examples of making and responding to counterarguments.
Buy it: I Wanna New Room on Amazon
17. Be Glad Your Dad … Is Not an Octopus! by Matthew Logelin and Sara Jensen
This author’s opinion is that you should appreciate your dad for who he is. He makes his case with plenty of arguments grounded in facts—facts that show that if your dad were an animal, he could be even more gross, embarrassing, or annoying!
Buy it: Be Glad Your Dad … Is Not an Octopus! on Amazon
18. Earrings! by Judith Viorst
A young girl desperately wants her ears pierced, but her parents respond to her begging with a firm no. Ask students to evaluate the merits of her various arguments. Which are strong? Which are just whiny?
Buy it: Earrings! on Amazon
19. Pick a Picture, Write an Opinion! by Kristen McCurry
If you’re looking for opinion-writing mentor texts that lay it all out there explicitly, you’ll appreciate this resource. Engaging, diverse photos and topics, a kid-friendly tone, and explicit advice make this a helpful primer to accompany more conventional mentor texts.
Buy it: Pick a Picture, Write an Opinion! on Amazon
20. I Hate My Cats (A Love Story) by Davide Cali
This narrator has plenty of reasons to dislike his self-centered cats, which he outlines in specific detail. Use this title as an example of a multi-pronged argument. (Plus, show that sometimes, opinion writing actually leads us to change our own minds. By the end, the owner realizes he actually loves his pets, quirks and all.)
Buy it: I Hate My Cats (A Love Story) on Amazon
21. I Can Be Anything! Don’t Tell Me I Can’t by Diane Dillon
Zoe makes big plans for her future, from being an archaeologist to a veterinarian. She quiets self-doubt with confident arguments. Aside from sharing this title’s lovely, affirming message, use it to teach kids to anticipate tough questions and head them off convincingly in their opinion writing.
Buy it: I Can Be Anything! Don’t Tell Me I Can’t on Amazon
22. Rise Up and Write It by Nandini Ahuja
Farah Patel works to convince her local government to improve a vacant lot to benefit her community. Great realistic examples of using letters and signs to inspire change!
Buy it: Rise Up and Write It on Amazon
23. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
These disgruntled but endearing crayons have opinions, and they aren’t shy about making them known in this read-aloud favorite. Check out this free downloadable educator guide from the publisher for persuasive letter-writing curriculum connections.
Buy it: The Day the Crayons Quit on Amazon
24. Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating
The best opinion writing springs from genuine conviction. Eugenie Clark believed sharks were fascinating and that women could be accomplished scientists who study them. Use this title to help students generate their own passion-fueled topics about which to write.
Buy it: Shark Lady on Amazon
25. What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers
Share this title for its inspiring message about the power of one citizen to evoke positive change through spoken words, writing, and action. Also consider it as an example of how words and art interact in opinion writing; the illustrations and text work together here to advance the book’s message.
Buy it: What Can a Citizen Do? on Amazon?
26. Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest by Sarah Hampson
Dr. Archibald Coo believes that pigeons don’t deserve their reputation as avian pests. He outlines a plan to change the minds of his city neighbors. Part of his approach is to send a persuasive letter to the mayor, suggesting creative, mutually beneficial agreements—a great example for student writers aiming to change the minds of authority figures.
Buy it: Dr. Coo and the Pigeon Protest on Amazon
27. The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
The animals in this classic read-aloud give a range of reasons their home shouldn’t be chopped down. Use them as examples of how to vary sentence structures and formats when listing arguments and how to use specific details to strengthen reasoning.
Buy it: The Great Kapok Tree on Amazon
28. Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson
This fictional account of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, told from the point of view of a young participant, is a classroom must-read. It exemplifies how children’s actions can make a difference in an adult world and how powerful language strengthens a written message.
Buy it: Let the Children March on Amazon
29. No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley
This powerful title introduces inspiring and diverse young activists’ causes using original poems by notable authors. Show kids that impactful opinion writing can take many forms.
Buy it: No Voice Too Small on Amazon
30. The Week Junior magazine “Big Debate” feature
The Week Junior is one of our absolute favorite magazines for the classroom, and its “Big Debate” section is a main reason for that. Each issue examines both sides of an interesting topic, from whether we should eat Maine lobster, to if space exploration is worth the huge cost, to whether or not kids’ screen time should be restricted. Have kids study examples to get tips for their own opinion writing, and maybe even create their own “Big Debate.”
Buy it: The Week Junior
31. Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean by Patricia Newman
This is a fantastic resource for upper elementary and middle school classrooms moving from opinion writing to research-based persuasive writing. This mind-boggling look at the impact of trash on our oceans gives kids so many models for sharing one’s opinions, experiences, and knowledge to spark change. Embedded QR codes take readers straight to awesome examples of persuasive speeches and other cool resources that support the author’s message.
Buy it: Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean on Amazon
32. We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell
A classroom prepares to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day with research projects that convey a clear message: Native Nations are still here! Besides being critical content for kids, this is a great example of how to use researched facts to support one’s opinion.
Buy it: We Are Still Here! on Amazon
33. Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You! by Marley Dias
Every middle school student should meet Marley Dias through this powerful account of her #1000blackgirlbooks campaign. It boasts plenty of practical advice for young activists. Pull text excerpts for mini-lessons about tailoring opinion writing to your audience. Marley writes straight to her peers.
Buy it: Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You! on Amazon
Excited to share these opinion-writing mentor texts? Also check out our favorite mentor texts for procedural and narrative writing.
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