Reading different types of fiction in the writing classroom

Research has shown that there is a profound connection between effective writing instruction and reading. For example: reading, studying and discussing mentor texts, texts which match the kind of writing children are being invited to make for themselves, can yield a positive effect of +0.76 (Young & Ferguson 2021, 2023a). For children with SEND, it can be +0.94 (Young & Ferguson 2023b). To put those numbers in context, anything above a +0.4 is generally considered to have a significant positive impact on children’s writing development.

Too often we see teachers explaining to children that a story must have a problem and a solution. Children groan as another story mountain planning sheet is handed out (Young & Ferguson 2023). Problem-solution stories don’t regularly match the types of picturebooks, short stories, flash-fiction and other literature children love to read. It’s therefore important that the mentor texts we share with children reflect the different types of fiction that are available to them. This way, children know they can write in these ways too as part of a class writing project. The six most common story arcs used in children’s literature are:

  • Steady rise (rag to riches)
  • Steady fall (riches to rags)
  • Fall-rise (man in hole)
  • Rise-fall (Macbeth)
  • Rise-fall-rise (Cinderella)
  • Fall-rise-fall (The boy who cried wolf)

In addition you have circular (a character returning to the place or the circumstances where the story began) and cumulative stories (with a new thing on every page adding to what’s gone before). 


To find out more about teaching reading effectively in the writing classroom, why not take a look at our eBook: Reading In The Writing Classroom: A Guide To Finding, Writing And Using Mentor Texts With Your Class.

To find out more about teaching narrative story arcs to children, why not take a look at our eBook: No More: I Don’t Know What To Write Next… Lessons That Help Children Plan Great Writing.

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