Studying memoirs can be very interesting to children (and to teachers). They can connect our lives to the past through the mentor texts that we share. Memoirs also provide an opportunity for story telling and sharing and help our students take notice of the small moments in time that might otherwise be overlooked. As we are constantly bombarded with texting, tweeting, and multi-tasking, I see the value in slowing things down to observe and reflect on why these small moments have value. We can capture that memory and help our students preserve them for the future.
Analyzing Memoir Exemplars
As I got ready to write this post, I began by searching for materials, book ideas, and information on the best way to approach teaching memoirs. Memoirs are not included in the Virginia standards for my grade levels, but I am excited to weave them into my instruction through other standards.
Patricia Polacco’s Connection to Memoirs
Of course, the first book that popped into my mind is Patricia Polacco’s The Keeping Quilt. It is the story of Patricia’s family immigrating to the United States and her family’s traditions. Other books by Polacco could certainly be included as memoirs too. Thank You Mr. Falker is a memoir of Patricia learning to read and her memories of Mr. Falker, the teacher who helped make that happen. Thundercake shares Patricia’s memory of how she learned to cope with storms, and My Rotten Red-headed Older Brother is about she and her brother, Ritchie’s, many bets on who could be the best at something. For planning options, check out this table of memoirs below. I have linked some titles to units I have created if readers are interested.
Other Memoir Options
Boy: Tales of Childhood
26 Fairmount Avenue
The Art Lesson
Fly Away Home
The Memory String
The Hello Goodbye Window
Mirandy and Brother Wind
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree
An Appalachian Story
Memoirs of a Goldfish as a Mentor Text
One that did not make this list that I thought fit the bill was Memoirs of a Goldfish. Here’s a glimpse of the book and what Amazon had to say about it.
Day One I swam around my bowl. Day Two I swam around my bowl. Twice. And so it goes in this tell-all tale from a goldfish. With his bowl to himself and his simple routine, Goldfish loves his life..until one day… When assorted intruders including a hyperactive bubbler, a grime-eating snail, a pair of amorous guppies, and a really crabby crab invade his personal space and bowl, Goldfish is put out, to say the least. He wants none of it, preferring his former peace and quiet and solitude. But time away from his new companions gives him a chance to rethink the pros and cons of a solitary life. And discover what he’s been missing.Amazon Book Summary
Responding to the Text:
Here is a cute freebie to go with Memoirs of a Goldfish from Creatabilities on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can access the file to the left by clicking on the image. It’s important to see mentor texts with a reader’s eye as well as from a writer’s eye. This resource offers a reading response option for making connections and characterization.
If you’d like to write memoirs with your students, this free resource from my shop would be helpful. I hope you enjoy using it.