If there’s one thing kids are good at, it’s persuasion. They have strong opinions about all kinds of things, they know what they want, and they’re good at figuring out a way to get it! The titles we’ve included on this handy downloadable list include stories in which the main character is trying desperately to persuade someone in the story in some way. The reader gets to see the reasoning, the way their character builds their argument, the range of approaches they take, and ultimately, which strategies work and which don’t. You’ll also find some straight-forward nonfiction books that present two sides of an issue, allowing the reader to make a decision based on the factual evidence provided.
Engaging students in conversations about issues and then using that as a jumping off point for opinion writing makes the writing more engaging and authentic. You might read part of the book, list the issue, chart the main character’s position, and lists the character’s strategies he/she uses to make a compelling argument. You can also take a tally part way through the story in order to gauge the predictions of the class.
Conversations about effective arguments (those that provide ample evidence along with an awareness of the opposing point of view) can be helpful in approaching these stories. Ask, “What does the main character want, and why?” “Why might their desire be denied, and why?” “What will happen if the main character doesn’t win the argument?” “What is at stake?”