Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing can seem a little intimidating at first, but if you understand some basics of what to include, it can be really fun for kids to try.  Simply stated, it’s any writing that is trying to convince someone of something.  We use persuasion all the time everyday – when you’re convincing Mom to let you have that cookie, or when you want your sister to go for a bike ride with you, or when you don’t think that punishment is fair and you want to negotiate a new one.  The question is, can you convince me in writing?

Persuasive writing gives kids a chance to tell their opinions and ideas instead of just facts like a lot of other essays (although some supporting facts go a long way in convincing people!).  Writing like this can take on a lot of different formats:

  • a letter to the editor
  • compare and contrast essay
  • an opinion piece that could be published in a magazine
  • a brochure
  • a book, movie, or product review
  • a television commercial
  • a printed advertisement
  • a letter to someone that is used to convince them of something (it could be anyone from your Mom to your congressman!)
  • an opinion essay about an important topic

The Three Parts of Persuasive Essays

There are three basic parts to persuasive writing:

1.  An introduction with a great hook and a clear statement of your point

2.  A body that includes your arguments

3.  A conclusion that restates your arguments clearly and brings home your point.persuasive-writing-is-like-fishing

I Don’t Know What To Write About

Generating ideas for what to write about can be hard.  Ideally, kids will feel strongly about something and want to convince you of it.  My son once wrote an alarmingly good persuasive essay outlining his arguments for why we should only have school 4 days a week instead of 5.  Sometimes kids don’t have strong opinions formed yet.  A few tips for helping to inspire opinions:

  • Read newspaper articles
  • Read magazines
  • Look at advertisements – printed ads, commercials, billboards, etc.
  • Make a list of things you wished you owned or things you wish you could do
  • Think of something in your town or community that you wish were different
  • Read a book and write your opinion
  • Watch a movie and write your opinion
  • Think of product you really like or really dislike and would like others to know about
  • Try to convince someone of something out loud (like convincing Dad to bring home pizza for dinner)

 

Tips For Persuading

When you present your argument, remember to include as many facts, examples, and statistics as you can to convince your reader.  Be clear and direct; this is your chance to actually change someone’s mind.  Then as you conclude, make sure to quickly restate your main points and call your reader to action.  Ask them to join you in your point of view.

Young kids may only have one paragraph, but by the time kids are 10 or so, they should be able to expand their arguments from that.  Junior high and high school aged kids should be able to tackle a 5 paragraph persuasive essay.  Use cool topics and let them decide what they’re passionate about.  If a letter or an advertisement is more meaningful to the kid, go that route.  It’s important to learn different mechanics and genres of writing, but it’s also important for us to find our authentic voice as writers and not be too constrained by rules.

If you give feedback, instead of just a grade, write to the kid about whether or not they convinced you and why.  And by all means, if they successfully argued for pizza for dinner, make it happen!

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