One or more copies of Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye (Aladdin, 1997)

Persuasive Letter Rubric

Chart paper


Briefly ask students to brainstorm why they think Mona wrote a letter to the president and what she hoped to accomplish. Have them share their ideas about why they think Mona wanted to write this letter. Accept all answers and make note of them on the board; however, guide students towards the idea of Mona wanting to have her voice heard by someone who might be able to impact the outcome of her concerns.

Ask students to think about a topic they might want to write a letter about. Discuss things happening in your school, town, or region as well as national issues. Allow students to share and discuss their ideas and record them on the board or on chart paper. Guide them in verbalizing their concerns. Once you have a list of topics on the board, ask students to choose one from the list to write about.

Talk about the person to whom they think their letters should be addressed.Suggested questions include, but are not limited to:

  • Why did they select that person to write a letter to?
  • How can he or she have an impact on the situation?

Explain to students that they are going to write a letter about an issue of their choosing. Distribute and review the Persuasive Letter Rubric. Go over the correct format for a business letter. Students need to know that their letter will have a heading, inside address, salutation, body, closing, and signature. Ask them to compare the letter they will write with the letter Mona wrote. What will be the same? What will be different?

After discussing the business-letter format, assign students interested in similar topics to groups. Tell each group that they are going to write and mail a letter to an official involved with their selected issue. Guide the students in planning their letters. They should state the issues focusing on why their issue is important to them or their community and provide suggestions for solving the identified problem. Remind the students that the purpose of their letter is to persuade the recipient to help.

Give students time to work in their groups and write a rough copy of their letter using the rubric as a guide. Wander the room to informally support and encourage emerging ideas.