Teachers for Teachers | It’s Monday! We Have Been Comparing Text Structures
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It’s Monday! We Have Been Comparing Text Structures


We love the way these two texts approach the same topic in such different ways. Readers will have so much to say as they compare and contrast how two authors used text structure, language and word choice to evoke powerful images in readers’ minds.

Winter is Coming, Tony Johnston and Jim LaMarche

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The way Tony Johnston describes what a girl sees from her tree house as fall turns into winter is breathtaking. The poetic language is perfect to help readers learn the power of creating sensory images as they read.

Look at the way the strong verbs add rhythm and layers of meaning:

“It (The lynx) paws out a beetle from the frozen leaves.”

“Two stripy chipmunks ripple from branch to branch of a pine.”

Readers and writers can study this text and see how figurative language enhances understanding. Notice the way the comparisons in these sentences bring vivid images to the reader’s mind.

“The red fox shines like a small red fire.”

”The apple is wrinkled like my grandma’s face.”

“A lynx with Egypt eyes. A lynx the color of the moon.”

This text is also interesting for writers to study and learn ways to show the passage of time.   Look at some of the different ways Tony Johnston shows this progression:

“October is gone.”

“Another day”

“Dawn burns the sky.”

“It’s late November now.”

Winter is Coming is a text that will be a mentor text in both reading and writing workshops. There is so much students can learn as they read, notice and study the way this text is crafted.

Fall Leaves, Loretta Holland


This is a beautiful book with a unique text structure. If you read the headings on each page, they create a list poem about fall. Yet the text under these poetic headings is informational.



We love pairing this text with Winter is Coming because the language is just as powerful even though the genre is different. Notice the way Loretta Holland writes about how flowers become dormant in winter:


“Many flowers such as tulips, daffodils, and others go to sleep for the winter, and when spring comes they being to grow again.”


The strong verbs and figurative language in this text show readers that these crafting techniques can be effective writing tools in all genres.


“The bottoms of the leaves look silver, like rain, and flash in the breeze as rain approaches.”

Don’t miss Elly MacKay’s illustrations. The lighting and the warmth in the pictures enhance the mood of this text. (insert photo)

 We would love to hear about the books, videos and images your students are comparing and contrasting.   How does looking across texts help your students deepen their understandings?

  • Avatar
    Michele Knott
    Posted at 13:49h, 19 January Reply

    i love both of these books but had not used them together! Thanks for the new idea!

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 11:22h, 20 January Reply

      Hi Michele,

      It will be great to see how these texts inspire writers. There is so much to learn from both of these books.

      Tammy and Clare

  • Avatar
    Posted at 20:37h, 19 January Reply

    I love the way you’ve compared these two books. I haven’t read either of them but they both sound delightful! Thanks for the reviews 🙂

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 11:23h, 20 January Reply

      Hi Christine,

      Let us know what you think of these texts. We would love to hear your thoughts.

      Tammy and Clare

  • Avatar
    Linda Baie
    Posted at 01:08h, 20 January Reply

    I have both books, will share your ideas with those who teach younger students. Mostly I have used comparisons of fiction and nonfiction about the same topics, pushing particularly on the lyrical language in fiction. But there is more n-f out that is more creative than in previous years, of course. Thanks for the ideas for these!

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 11:28h, 20 January Reply

      Hi Linda,

      It is interesting for young writers to notice how the language in both fiction and nonfiction can be descriptive and poetic. Fall Leaves is a wonderful example of how lyrical language can be used in informational text.

      Tammy and Clare

  • Avatar
    Katie Logonauts
    Posted at 14:11h, 20 January Reply

    Winter Bees would be a good fit here. Though it does not have a plot, per se. There is a lot to learn about in the poems, text boxes, and incredible illustrations.

  • Avatar
    Myra from GatheringBooks
    Posted at 08:53h, 22 January Reply

    Tony Johnston’s verse is always so powerful and haunting. I should look out for this particular title of his. 🙂

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