Boy standing and thinking with finger next to his mouth
Teaching students to recognize when a synthesis is happening is DIFFICULT! Like seriously, it was a really hard concept for me to wrap my mind around as a reader. Over time though, I began to see that nearly all characters in a story with a decent plot make some type of change over time. As a reader, our students can make a mindset shift as they read as well. 
Below, I’m sharing four of my favorite books for helping students see a character or themselves as a reader make a shift in their thinking as the story progresses. 

If you are interested in snagging any of these books, click the picture to find it on Amazon. 
Mentor Text with text "The Littlest Matryoshka" and Graphic Organizer with text "Synthesizing While Reading"

The Littlest Matryoshka

I love using Matryoshka dolls to help my students visually see that their knowledge of a particular idea or topic is growing and changing as they read. The Littlest Matryoshka is perfect to both demonstrate the skill and tie in the visual! 

Mentor Text with text "The Empty Pot" and Graphic Organizer with text "Synthesizing While Reading"

The Empty Pot

I’ll be honest. I avoided reading this book for a looooonnnngg time. The cover didn’t jump out at me, nor did the title. Once I finally gave it a chance, I loved it. I love it so much, that I use it to teach theme and synthesizing.

In this book, the Emperor was looking for a heir. To decide, he gave everyone a seed. Whoever could grow their seed into the most beautiful flower would be the heir. When the people in the village noticed that their plants aren’t growing and they replaced them. Everyone does so, except for Ping. Ping returns to the Emperor with an empty pot.

As the reader, I was doubting Ping the entire way through the book. I mentally made a change in thinking as I grew to see what was happening. It’s a great book and I wish I hadn’t ignored it for so long! 

Mentor Text with text "Emma Kate" and Graphic Organizer with text "Synthesizing While Reading"

Emma Kate

In some books, synthesizing happens throughout the entire book. Both the character and the reader are learning and growing as the story progresses. In Emma Kate, the change in thinking doesn’t happen until the very end.

This book is sweet, adorable, and simple enough to see the lightbulb illuminate as you and your students make a synthesis! 

Mentor Text with text "The Giving Tree" and Graphic Organizer with text "Synthesizing While Reading"

The Giving Tree

Are you tired of seeing my post about The Giving Tree?! I know I’ve shared it before, but it just fits here too! Shel Silverstein has packed this book with so many opportunities to teach an array of reading skills.

In this book, I feel that the reader should certainly be making a shift in thinking as we repeatedly watch the tree make sacrifice after sacrifice for the boy. Just as much as we can predict what is about to happen, we can see that the tree’s happiness will be short-lived. How can this relate to your students’ struggles? Their friends? The lives of an upper elementary student’s parent?

Click here for your FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet!

Do you love mentor texts as much as I do? Have trouble organizing them all?

Do you want to use mentor texts but you don’t know where to start?

I have a FREE Mentor Text Cheat Sheet for you! In this Google Sheet, you’ll find MY list of Mentor Texts and the reading skills that I use them to teach. You can add your own books, sort by author or reading skills, find shortcuts to my blog posts, AND

>>>my favorite feature<<<
>>>cue the drum roll, please<<<

Choose from a dropdown menu to show where you can find the book. For example, I use a boatload of mentor texts in my reading instruction. I can’t afford to buy them all. I find some in our school library, the local library, borrow from my teacher friends, and SOME of them, I do own!

Using the dropdown menu, you can easily remind yourself where you can find your mentor text when you need it! Click the image above OR click here to grab it.