Writing a Compare & Contrast Essay: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Audrey Akins

Audrey has more than a decade of experience teaching elementary. She has a bachelor's in journalism and a master's in education.

When you have to create a compare and contrast essay, it may sound like a lot of work. But it doesn't have to be, as long as you understand what ~'compare~' and ~'contrast~' mean and follow some of these basic steps.

What is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

When you are asked to compare two things, it means you have to tell how two things are alike. An example of this is when you read two books and tell how the characters, events, or endings are the same. When you are asked to contrast, it means you need to tell how two things are different. Examples of this include when you look at the differences between characters, settings, or issues in two stories.

How Do You Start the Essay?

When writing a compare and contrast essay, the first thing you need to do is create an opening sentence that tells what the essay is about. Since you're comparing and contrasting, your opening sentence should name the two stories that you are writing about. Your opening sentence could sound something like this: When I read (the name of the first story) and (the name of the second story), I noticed that there were some ways that they were alike and different.

Before beginning your essay, you may use a graphic organizer, like a Venn diagram, to organize your thoughts. Write details about the first story on the left, details about the second story on the right, and details about how the stories are the same, or different, in the middle.

Venn diagrams can help you get organized
venn diagram

How Do You Organize the Essay?

The first sentence in your second paragraph should tell readers how the two things you are comparing are the same. Include specific examples from the two stories to make your point. Use transition words as you move from sentence to sentence. Transition words are words that help connect your sentences and writing together. Some basic transition words you may already know are: first, next, then, finally. Other transition words you can use are: also, another reason, in addition to these things, furthermore.

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