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Types and Purposes of Writing

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Types of writing

  • Narrative text tells a story, and can be either fiction or nonfiction. Narrative texts typically have a beginning, middle, and end, and they use characters, setting, and plot to create the story.
  • Descriptive text creates a picture with words, using vivid language to describe people, places, things, or events. Descriptive text can be found in a variety of genres, including essays and poetry.
  • Expository text explains or informs, by presenting facts, definitions, or processes in a clear and concise way. Expository text can be found in a variety of genres, including news articles, and informational books for children — for example, visual encyclopedias and pictorial information books such as the DK and National Geographic series
  • Argumentative or opinion text persuades the reader to agree with a particular point of view, by using evidence, logic, and reasoning to support the claims. Argumentative text can be found in essays, editorials, and speeches.

Writing templates

Why do we write?

Writing is an innately human need. Yet writing can be difficult to learn to do well and many of us avoid writing whenever we can! For children, it takes years of good instruction, exploring mentor texts as models, lots of practice writing (and revising), different types of writing, and ongoing encouragement. It also helps for children to understand the purposes for writing. Here are the main reasons we write:

To tell a story

Writing to tell a story or recount events. Examples to share with kids: short stories, chapter books, graphic novels, and memoirs.

To inform and explain

Writing to provide information, facts, or explanations about a topic. Examples to share with kids: nonfiction, illustrated informational books, encyclopedias, news articles, and how-to guides.

To share an opinion or persuade

Writing to convince or persuade the reader to adopt a particular viewpoint or take a specific course of action. Examples to share with kids: advertising, speeches, essays, and editorials.

To entertain others

Writing to engage and amuse the reader through storytelling or humor. Examples to share with kids: graphic novels, modernized folktales, short stories, reader’s theater scripts, personal essays, and poems.

To express oneself

Writing to share thoughts, feelings, reflections, and experiences with readers. Examples to share with kids: diaries, journals, and letters.

To describe

Writing to create vivid images or sensory experiences by using detailed language and appealing to the reader’s senses. Examples to share with kids: poetry, personal journals and diaries, letters, and nature writing.

Sharing writing

In the classroom, it’s important for students — and teachers — to share their writing, throughout the whole process, from drafts to revisions to final product. Research suggests that children are motivated to write and polish their writing when they know they will be sharing with peers and other readers.

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Writing strategies