Mentor Monday 3/24/2014-Mentor Texts for Memoirs

Happy Monday!  Today, I had the pleasure of guest hosting for Emily over at Reading Tutor/OG for her weekly Mentor Monday linky.  This week’s topic is MEMOIRS, which is probably my favorite unit that I teach!  There are SOOOOOO many great choices to use for this topic from picture books to chapter books and even some for just us adults!  I decided that instead of focusing on just one mentor text, I would give you a list of different ones that you can use for different purposes.  And, I am including a list of characteristics of a memoir that you can use with your kiddos (or, just to help you!).

First of all, I don’t think we called these stories memoirs when I was in elementary school.  We talked about personal narratives and even “true” stories, but I don’t ever remember hearing the word memoir until probably college.  Writing gurus like Lucy Calkins have helped teachers learn to teach great writing and in elementary school, one of the easiest things to teach is what you already know!  That is exactly what a memoir is.  Some moment from your life that you already know about.  The difficult thing about memoirs is to keep them small and yet interesting (we have all had those kids that like to start with, “I alarm went off and then I got out of bed.  I walked downstairs and ate breakfast.  I walked back upstairs and got dressed.  Then, I brushed my teeth…..” You know, the ones that might only write about one day, but they tell you EVERYTHING they did that one day!).  So, we start with a chart paper of what a memoir is (and what it is NOT) and we add to it the more we read.  Here is what an anchor chart might look like in your classroom.  

I think one of the best ways to teach what a memoir looks like is to show students many examples of them.  The nice thing about several of the memoirs on this list is that you can read just a couple of excerpts from the book to allow students to see what a memoir is.  It may also get them interested in reading more of the book on their own!  Believe me, this is NOT a comprehensive list!  There are SOOO many great memoirs out there and several of these authors have more than one book that would be great for this unit!  I had to stop myself before I took over the entire post with just a list of book.  Each day while I am teaching this unit (and several days/weeks before), I read aloud a memoir.  That way, every student has heard multiple versions and types of memoirs.  The more they hear, the more their writing will improve, right!?  At least, that is my hope! 
I could go on and on about this unit, but I will refrain…..for now!  I would love to hear YOUR ideas about teaching memoirs!  What books do you use?  What great plans are in your folder?  
Until next time,


  1. says

    Krista, I have really enjoyed reading the two posts you have written regarding Memoir texts and student memoir writing, something I have never attempted. Gives me some great ideas to hash around and consider! Thanks for sharing so many wonderful ideas!
    Burke’s Special Kids

  2. says

    It is true! A memoir gives a snapshot of a certain period of one’s life.

    I am at the tail end of finishing my memoir and I sometimes am faced with the question of what a memoir is. Your chart and post sums it up perfectly.

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