Skip to content

Immersing them in the memoir genre

writing memoirs
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 Hence, the reason I’ll be sharing both published and unpublished memoirs with my kids throughout the course of this unit of study.

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

3 thoughts on “Immersing them in the memoir genre Leave a comment

  1. Tracy:

    Yes, we spend at least one day immersing them in the genre prior to the unit of study beginning.

    Our whole school uses the Workshop Model, so by the time I get them in the fifth grade, they’re pretty adept at noticing the characteristics of genres.

    My best,


  2. Your kids did such a great job of noticing characteristics of the memoir genre. Has the genre immersion been your strategy all year? How well did your kids verbalize “noticings” in the beginning? HOw much coaching do/did they need to notice important characteristics?

    Thanks for your great blog..I wish there were more out there of teacher’s describing what happens in their classroom, both successes and failures (your successes are inspiring!)


  3. THANK YOU! I love teaching personal narrative and memoir. This genre is so awesome for kids and teachers. I appreciate that you are willing to share what you did. I, too, think that kids really benefit from anchor writings that show what we are talking about. I do like ‘real, published’ authors. I also am really appreciative of when I can find examples from my own students. I have no idea how to be fancy and link to my site, so I am just going to type it out, I hope that is ok. 🙂 Your plan sounds awesome and I appreciate that you are willing to write about it!


%d bloggers like this: