Autobiography/ Memoir

Mentor Texts:

  • Giving Life by a Middle-School Student – “This is a very moving narrative about a difficult experience. Sharing what she learned from this friendship makes an effective conclusion.” Trigger Warning: Death of a Close Friend
  • The Great Paw-Paw by Charlotte, Seventh Grader – “Charlotte, the seventh-grade writer of this model, organizes her essay into paragraphs that describe different aspects of her subject. The closing leaves the reader with a clear idea of the important place her grandfather holds in her memory.” Trigger Warning: Death of a Grandparent
  • The Racist Warehouse by Alicia, Eighth Grader – “This personal narrative by eighth-grader Alicia presents an engaging voice. Read the essay and notice how Alicia’s personality comes through; she obviously cares about her subject. Her use of details gives the reader a clear picture of the characters and environment in this account of Alicia’s first encounter with racism.”
  • Huddling Together by David, High-School Student – “David deftly interweaves past events that lead up to the football game with the present events of the game itself. The author’s voice comes through loud and clear in the dialogue and in his new-found zeal for football.”
  • The Boy With Chris Pine Blue Eyes by Lisa, Tenth Grader – “Tenth-grader Lisa’s voice comes through loud and clear in this model. The use of strong details and dialogue—including the author “talking” to herself—makes this a believable essay about a student’s first high school crush.”
  • It’s a Boy! by a High-School Student – “This model recounts an embarrassing public experience that provided the writer with new insight into teen pregnancy, single parenthood, and social stigmas. The voice of the piece shows the writer’s personality and easily connects with readers. Many vivid details make the experience come to life.”
  • H’s Hickory Chips by Karen, Eleventh Grader – “Karen, in eleventh grade, shares the details of a Saturday spent working for her family’s business. Her descriptions bring the subject to life, and her ending tells the reader why this work is important to her.”
  • Anticipating the Dream by Michelle, Eleventh Grader – “Michelle develops this eyewitness account by answering the “5 W’s and H” about her parents becoming American citizens. The writer also shares her sensory impressions.”
  • Take Me to Casablanca by Emily, Ninth Grader – “The 9th-grade writer of this personal narrative, Emily, uses original word choice to effectively convey a vivid image of the people and environment she encountered on a trip to Africa. The opening paragraphs communicate a sense of excitement that, by the end of the trip, is reduced to disappointment, shock, and guilt.”
  • The Climb by Amy, High-School Student – “Amy, the author of this personal narrative, effectively uses voice to convey the fear she feels as she ascends a path to an area above a 100-ft. waterfall. Her expert choice of words helps to paint a beautiful picture of her surroundings.”
  • The House on Medford Avenue by Samantha, Ninth Grader – “Ninth-grader Samantha’s assignment for this essay was to write a series of vignettes, loosely modeled on the novel The House on Mango Street, about her own house, neighborhood, family, and friends.”

Other Resources:

  • Brainstorming Your Memoir:
  • Drafting Your Memoir:
    • A Memory Exercise – “Learn to craft memorable memories through this exercise!”
    • Mapping Memories – “Sometimes you have to see your memories before you can write them down. Follow your artistic instincts and map out your memories!”
    • Modeling Memories – “Read the following Write It Critics’ Picks and model your memoir after the one that speaks to you!”
    • Sense Memory – “Draft vivid sensory descriptions with master writer Alexandra Fuller!”
  • Peer Review for Your Memoir:
    • See Your Memoir Through New Eyes – “Have someone you trust read your story and provide you with written and verbal answers to the following questions.”
    • Handling Feedback – “Here are some important tips on how to give and receive feedback from others!”
    • Sandwich Critique – “Assemble a peer review response that’s honest and easy-to-swallow.”
    • Finding Your Center – “Every memoir has a center of gravity! Find yours!”
  • Revising Your Memoir:
  • Polish Your Piece:

Places to Publish:

  • Scholastic Write It! Literary Magazine – Memoir submissions should be 750-3,000 Words. No explicit (inappropriate for school) content aloud. As always, make sure you read through the rest of the submission guidelines before submitting!