Mentor Texts for Teaching Cause and Effect

Mentor text for Teaching Cause and Effect for 3rd - 5th Grades

Cause and Effect is such an important reading skill for upper elementary students! Understanding how one thing leads to another, and another isn’t always easy. Sometimes kids also get confused about which is the cause and which is the effect.

Using mentor texts is a great way to help students get really clear on this! With your help, they can identify which cause leads to which effect, and before you know it, they will be able to do this without your help.

Below are 10 of my favorite mentor texts for teaching Cause and Effect.

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1. Volcanoes 

This book explores one of the coolest natural wonders, volcanoes! Clear concise writing, along with tons of colorful illustrations will help students understand why volcanoes do all of the amazing (and frightening) things that they do. 

2.  Toad Overload

In the early 1900s, Australia found it had a problem with giant toads that had been brought over from Central and South America. Why were they brought to Australia? How did the frog population get so out of control? What could be done about it?

3. What Happens to a Hamburger

What happens to a hamburger after you eat it? This book has tons of charts, graphics, and colorful illustrations that help explain how your body turns food into energy. Kids will love this book, and will be entertained and learn at the same time.

4. The Reason for a Flower

All about plants that have seeds and flowers, this book explains the whole process of how (and why) a seed grows into a plant and then blooms into a flower. This is another one with really beautiful illustrations that help bring the story alive.

5. From Tree to Paper

As it says on the cover, this one takes kids along for the ride as trees are turned into paper, start to finish. It’s got real-life photos, and simple, descriptive explanations for each step in the process. Kids will be fascinated to learn and see how the paper that they use every day is made!

6. What Are Germs and Why Do They Make Us Sick

How can something as teeny tiny as a germ have such a big impact? Find out with this informative book! It explains all about why germs can make us so sick and different ways to fight germs so that we DON’T get sick or spread sickness to others.

7. Extreme Animal

Some animals have it really rough! There are bacteria that survive inside of volcanoes, reptiles that live in drier-than-dry-desserts, and others that live in the super-pressurized environment of the deepest ocean. This book tells all about how these animals (and more) can survive in such EXTREME environments!

8. Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made

How are tiny sea creatures turned into chalk? How are DVDs made from sand? This book explains how everyday objects are made from elements from nature. The pictures alone will teach you things you didn’t know, and along with the text, they positively pack this book FULL of interesting facts about how common, everyday objects are made.

9. Thunder and Lightning 

We’ve all seen lightning and heard thunder (in the movies, if not in real life), but do you know the cause? This book introduces tons of weather-related vocabulary and explains how thunder and lightning come to be. With lots of facts and pictures, it’s sure to keep your students interested in this common phenomenon!

10. Animals That Changed the World

Have you ever stopped to think about how different the world would be if it weren’t for animals? Rats have killed more people than any war (through diseases they carry), and camels allowed people in ancient times to travel long distances through the desert, connecting far away communities. This book features 20 amazing animals, and explained how they have each had a huge impact on our world!

If you have been working on cause and effect with your students, and are in need of some fresh ways to practice this skill, check out this Cause and Effect Reading Center. It includes nonfiction texts and is appropriate for 4th and 5th grade.

Cause and Effect Reading Center Nonfiction 4th and 5th Grades

I also have these really great assessments that provide a ton of great info and can be used as formative or summative assessments.

Cause and Effect Standards-Based Reading Assessments for Nonfiction 5th Grade


Have you been searching high and low for great ideas for teaching cause and effect? Check out the posts below!

5 Ways to Make Teaching Cause and Effect Fun

Mentor Texts for Informational Text Structures

Using a Scavenger Hunt to Review Informational Text Structures


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The Teacher Next Door - Creating upper elementary resources that target standards for busy teachers

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