Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Children's Literature, Elementary Writing Instruction

Major Advisor

Dr. Douglas Kaufman

Associate Advisor

Dr. Wendy Glenn

Associate Advisor

Dr. Natalie Olinghouse

Field of Study

Curriculum and Instruction


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


The importance of writing in our society is expanding as writing proficiency becomes increasingly necessary for success in the classroom and in workplaces. One promising approach to writing instruction involves capitalizing on the relationship that exists between reading and writing in order to support students’ early writing development (Fitzgerald & Shanahan, 2000). The integration of children’s literature within classroom writing instruction seeks to build on reading-writing connections; however, there is little empirical description of how this integration occurs in classrooms. One challenge for researchers and educators is to better understand how teachers and students in elementary school classrooms use children’s literature within the context of writing instruction.

Informed by aspects of social and sociocultural learning theory (Vygotsky, 1978; Bandura, 1977), as well as the notion of literature as a mentor text (Dorman & Capelli, 2007; Harwayne 1992), I conducted a qualitative case study investigating a fifth-grade teacher’s rationale for, and methods of integrating children’s literature as a model during her writing workshop. Guided by Lancia’s (1997) framework of “literary borrowing,” I also explored the ways in which fifth-grade writers drew on children’s literature to help them as they engaged in their own writing. I employed multiple methods of data collection over the course of an academic school year, including teacher and student interviews and conversations, writing workshop observations, and the collection of classroom documents.

Findings from this dissertation include: 1) The classroom teacher wanted to integrate children’s literature as a model in order to build reading-writing connections, show students writing strategies in action, launch students’ writing inquiry, and support differentiated writing instruction and learning. 2) The classroom teacher integrated children’s literature as a model using two distinctly different approaches: instructional lessons and inquiry lessons. 3) As they crafted their own written products, students borrowed from children’s literature in ways that aligned with, and extended Lancia’s original framework of literary borrowing. Implications include suggestions for integrating children’s literature as a writing model through a combination of instructional and inquiry lessons, and possibilities for encouraging and publicizing the practice of literary borrowing in elementary school classrooms.

Available for download on Friday, May 03, 2024