Immersing them in the memoir genre
Deb asked me which texts I’ll be using on day one of the memoir unit. Well, the answer is that I will be reading When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant or rereading What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan.
That being said, I’m actually having the kids spend their independent writing time reading three memoirs that my former students wrote. Afterwards, they’ll answer some questions about what they noticed about each of the memoirs they read. (I’ll also make two of the memoirs I wrote about my parents available to them after they read the other kids’ memoirs, in case more examples are needed.) I’ve found, over the years, that other kids’ non-narrative writing often serves as the best mentor text as opposed to using published authors’ texts. Memoir is kind of a strange part of the non-narrative genre, since, as you know, many memoirs are hybrid texts, straddling the line between narrative and non-narrative. Hence, the reason I’ll be sharing both published and unpublished memoirs with my kids throughout the course of this unit of study.