Jon Scieszka, author of the The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man has a wonderful series of memoir-ish pieces collected in his book Knucklehead. One of my favorite genres to teach in intermediate grades is the personal essay. Jon provides many examples of essays and personal narratives here, including a tribute to his father. Each piece is short (thank you Jon!) and very approachable – perfect for studying as mentor texts.
Here is the lead to one of the funniest stories in the book, “Watch Your Brothers”:
That’s what my mom used to tell me and Jim – “Watch your brothers.”
So we did.
We watched Jeff roll off the couch.
We watched Brian dig in the plants and eat the dirt.
We watched Gregg lift up the lid on the toilet and splash around in the water.
And here is the ending of the essay/tribute to Jon’s father:
But the best thing my dad taught us was how to treat kids with respect. He did this by listening to us. He would listen to our crazy stories, our lame jokes, our wildest ideas. He would listen to every side of any argument.
And I’m sure that’s why my brother Brian and I both became teachers. We learned from our dad that kids have something to say, and that they will say it… if you are willing to listen.
How lucky were Jon Scieszka’s students? I am sure they learned and laughed every day…