Memoir Mondays

My classes began revising their memoirs today while I did my best to conference with each of them. As I read memoir after memoir, I was stunned by the way my students were baring their souls in their pieces. I read about blankies that taught them about growing up, sons who watched their fathers recover from illnesses all the time growing closer to them, and granddaughters who are afraid of of losing their grandfathers to cancer. It took all I had to fight back tears as I read them.

This is the first year I have taught memoir, because I never really felt comfortable with it. It’s not as “scripted” as personal narrative or personal essay. That tends to intimidate my kids, who have never had workshop before.  I usually have to do a lot of hand-holding and memoir doesn’t lend itself to that.  It’s a lot more free-form and requires the writer to open up and expose themselves more that a personal narrative does.  But the rewards have been wonderful and we are only in the revision stage!

Over the next week we will finish our memoirs.  We will mount them on scrapbook paper, organize them, and bind them together into a book.  The book will be shared with their parents during conferences in the middle of March.  I can’t wait to share these awesome, soul-searching pieces with the parents.

Memoir Writing

This past week my class has been mining their writer’s notebooks for possible memoir ideas. Memoir is a hard concept for my kids to wrap their heads around, because it’s so different from the genres we have studied thus far this year. But as we finish reading The Giver and talking about the importance of memories, it seemed apropos.


I’ve been working on my own examples to share with them, too.  We’ve read examples of memoirs from Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka, Knots in My Yo-Yo String (Jerry Spinelli), and When I Was Your Age, Volume Two: Original Stories About Growing Up (various memoirs by children’s authors), but my own examples always seem to ring truer for them.  So this weekend I will be writing a few of my own memoirs to share this week when they choose their seed ideas!