At our local library, I stumbled across a non-fiction series to teach writing. Of course there are oodles of books on the topic--textbooks, workbooks, video series, etc. but what makes this series stand out is that each title is geared for grades 2-4 and written as a brightly illustrated children's picture book.
Because I knew my kids had some greatly overdue Christmas thank-yous to write, I decided to check out and read to them Sincerely Yours: Writing Your Own Letter by Nancy Loewen. The author does a great job of including the factual information about the parts of a letter in a fun and engaging way. Describing the differences between business letters (to those we don't know) and friendly letters (to those we do know). Whole pages are devoted to illustrated examples of different kinds of letters.
I read this to my 2, 4 and 6 year olds (all below the targeted age). And even though they may not be able to repeat the main parts of a letter, the book kept their interest with interesting illustrations that went along with the sample letters. The main book was 27 pages (which is all I read). If I were reading this to an older child (i.e. in the targeted range), I would definitely take advantage of the additional information included at the back: a page reviewing the book's main points, a page of exercises to apply what they've learned , a few additional writing tips, a glossary of terms used in the book, some suggestions on additional book and web resources as well as a short index of the book's content.
After reading the book, we sat down and got our thank you notes written. For my 6 year old, he dictated what he wanted to say and I wrote it down so he could copy it into his note. And for my 2 and 4 year olds, they just dictated and I wrote it down for them. This book made the note writing a fun and memorable experience. All in all, this slim volume of 32 pages packs a wonderful amount of information to gently introduce the elementary student to the world of writing. I look forward to reading more of this series with my kids.
You can see the other books in the series online. If your library doesn't own this series, try suggesting they add it to their next book order. Another parent or teacher will be glad you did!