Kristina's Favorite Picture Books for Teaching the 6 Traits

6 Traits of Writing--Picture Book Recommendations

Many teachers choose to introduce each of the 6 Traits by reading a text that exemplifies the trait. Students can see the trait in action within such mentor text.

Picture books are a great option. The text is short (which is important for a mini-lesson) and engaging for students--even those in middle school and high school!

Below is a list of suggested titles. Most teachers read a different book to represent each trait. But, if you are looking for a single title that demonstrates all 6 Traits, look for the * at the end of each title/author. These are texts that would work for all 6 Traits. (Download a PDF version of Kristina's 6-Traits Picture Book Recommendations.)


6 Traits of Writing--Trait of Ideas Kindergarten David's Drawings, Cathryn Falwell
  Good Dog, Carl, Alexandra Day
Grade 1 This is My Hair, Todd Parr (out of print)
  Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Mem Fox
Grades 2-3 Pictures from our Vacation, Lynne Rae Perkins
  Fireflies! Julie Brinckloe*
Grades 4-5 Saturdays and Teacakes, Lester Laminack*
  The Best Story, Eileen Spinelli
Grades 6-12 The Table Where Rich People Sit, Byrd Baylor
  The Other Side, Jacqueline Woodson*
Other Mentor Text for 6-12 American Pepper, an urban legend*
Detailed novel excerpt, or a prologue


6 Traits of Writing--Trait of Organization Kindergarten Today is Monday, Eric Carle
  The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Grade 1 Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild, Mem Fox*
  Scaredy Squirrel, Mélanie Watt*
Grades 2-3 When Sophie Gets Angry, Molly Bang*
  Roller Coaster, Marla Frazee
Grades 4-5 Probuditi! Chris Van Allsburg
  Blackout, John Rocco
Grades 6-12 The Relatives Came, Cynthia Rylant*
  Smoky Night, Eve Bunting*
Other Mentor Text for 6-12 The Carpet Fitter, an urban legend*
An excerpt with several transition words/phrases


6 Traits of Writing--Trait of Voice
Kindergarten The Feelings Book, Todd Parr
  My Crayons Talk, Patricia Hubbard
Grade 1 Monster at the End of this Book, Jon Stone*
  Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Mo Willems
Grades 2-3 Hattie the Bad, Jane Devlin
  The Recess Queen, Alexis O'Neill*
Grades 4-5 How Are You Peeling? Saxton Freymann
  Arnie the Doughnut, Laurie Keller
Grades 6-12 The Harmonica, Tony Johnston*
  Voices in the Park, Anthony Browne
Other Mentor Text for 6-12 An email exchange with voice revealed in emoticons
Greeting cards with the same theme, different voice


6 Traits of Writing--Trait of Word Choice
Kindergarten Hooray for Fish, Lucy Cousins
  How Things Work in the House, Lisa Campbell Ernst
Grade 1 Max's Words, Kate Banks
  Fancy Nancy, Jane O'Connor*
Grades 2-3 Outfoxed, Mike Twohy
  I'm Dirty, Kate & Jim McMullan
Grades 4-5 Walter the Farting Dog, William Kotzwinkle & Glenn Murray
  Thesaurus Rex, Laya Steinberg*
Grades 6-12 Fox, Margaret Wild*
  Piggie Pie! Margie Palatini
Other Mentor Text for 6-12 A poem with precise language
Article on a specialized subject


6 Traits of Writing--Trait of Sentence Fluency Kindergarten The Magic Hat, Mem Fox
  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin, Jr. & John Archambault
Grade 1 The Napping House, Audrey Wood*
Grades 2-3 Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp, Carol Diggory Shields*
  Roller Coaster, Marla Frazee
Grades 4-5 Come on, Rain! Karen Hesse*
  Dogteam, Gary Paulsen
Grades 6-12 Mr. George Baker, Amy Hest
  The Wall, Eve Bunting*
Other Mentor Text for 6-12 A poem with figurative language
Song lyrics with figurative language


6 Traits of Writing--Trait of Conventions
Kindergarten CDB! William Steig
Grade 1 Yo! Yes? Christopher Raschka
  Animals Black and White, Phyllis Limbacher Tildes*
Grades 2-3 Punctuation Takes a Vacation, Robin Pulver
  Scaredy Squirrel, Mélanie Watt*
Grades 4-5 The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg*
  Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Doreen Cronin*
Grades 6-12 Eats, Shoots & Leaves (commas), Lynne Truss
  Girl's Like Spaghetti (apostrophes), Lynne Truss
  Twenty-Odd Ducks (20 different punctuation marks), Lynne Truss
Other Mentor Text for 6-12 Incoherent text message (acronyms, no punctuation, etc.)
Same message written to different audiences


Look for opportunities to weave your reading and writing together. Point out evidence of the 6 Traits within your reading.

Robin Peterman (Instructional Interventionist at Abbett Elementary School in Fort Wayne, IN) took it one step further. Instead of the teacher pointing out the traits in reading, she has her students do the thinking!

After using picture books to refresh students' minds of the 6 Traits of writing, Robin asked students to read like writers. She put them in small groups, decided on which trait(s) to focus on for the day's reading, and required the students to keep rigorous documentation. Her handout requires students to reference the text with specific examples. This "citation" component is a key factor in writing a strong literature response.

Robin wrote in an email, "Our (corporation) data showed that literary response and analysis were weak. What better way to try to improve those skills than to study books as critics using 6+1 traits as parameters?"

While listening to the students, Robin heard one group talk about the author's word choice on specific pages and another group liked how the author used his voice to foreshadow action. What an excellent reading-writing connection, Robin! Thanks for sharing.

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Content Literacy