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Change & Personal Narratives

“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus

As a child, I didn’t know much about change.  I moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey when I was a baby.  I switched schools in the fall of sixth grade, thereby dividing the first thirteen years of my schooling between two educational institutions.  I lived under the same roof until I went off to college in 1995.  However, as an adult, I know what change is like.  Since moving out of my freshman dorm in college, I lived in five apartments before moving to my present home.  In the past two and a half years, I went from living in Manhattan to living in Rhode Island to living in Pennsylvania.  I’ve learned what it means to be uprooted and have grown to understand how to rebuild.  My most recent transition to Central Pennsylvania went smoothly because of my resiliency, something many little kids who move around a lot do not have.  As we know, it takes many children awhile to adjust to new surroundings, especially when they know another change could be on the horizon.

Change can be one of the harshest realities of life for children.  Sunday Chutney, a relatively new picture book by Aaron Blabey, appeals to the universal themes of change and being transient.  Therefore, having a copy of this delicious picture book (I say delicious because I love the illustrations, as much as I love the main character, Sunday, whose personality comes through on every page of the book) in your classroom’s bin of mentor texts is a must.  This book is an ideal way to open up a conversation about the merits and pitfalls of change with a child who is new to your school – at any point in the school year.  It can be used as an invitation to write about the ups and downs of moving, fitting-in, and being different when one finds themselves in a new place.  Additionally, this text has an effective ending.  Hence, it can be used to teach children to imagine different possibilities for the final lines of their story, rather than summarizing what has happened.  The ending of this book allows the reader to empathize with Sunday, but also to imagine, along with her, different circumstances.

A couple of weeks ago, I was consulting in school district with a group of fifth grade teachers who were getting ready to teach personal narrative to their students.  They asked me for good texts to use when immersing students in the personal narrative genre.  Most of the texts I listed were not true personal narratives since many of them were written in the third person.  (I talked about the need to explicitly point that out to students when demonstrating with those kinds of texts.)  However, Sunday Chutney is written in the first person and is a personal narrative, thereby making it an excellent mentor text to use when immersing students in the personal narrative genre.

Click on the photo to view quotations about change and transience.
NOTE: A review copy of this book was provided by Front Street.

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade 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).

One thought on “Change & Personal Narratives Leave a comment

  1. I am anxious to read Sunday Chutney, as it is a new book for me. I love to use My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco and Bootisie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner. Both books are told in first person. The kids usually connect with the real life happenings that the author shares. For boys, By My Brother’s Side by Tiki and Ronde Barber with Robert Burleigh is a favorite. The boys like having the male characters. They are also fascinated with the authors being NFL. I like the passage of time and zooming in. Anyway, thought I’d share. Enjoy having Ruth with you and working on your book.

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