May is the month for memoirs in many classrooms. I love the idea of writing memoir at the end of the year. Students can look back at their writing throughout the year and decide what is really important to them in their life. Their notebooks will show this. Reflecting on what has been written and then going deeper into what does it really mean to me, is a way to start their memoir adventure.
To begin this journey, it is best to dig into some mentor texts. Today, I am sharing four books that I enjoy using for mentor tests in this genre.
One of my favorite books for memoir is by Ralph Fletcher. Teachers know this author because of all the books on writing he and his wife, JoAnne Portalupi, have written. Children know this author because of the young adult novels he has written. This book on memoir will not disappoint either. Each chapter gives you a little snippet of Ralph's life and shows beginning writers how to write that type of genre. The book is: Marshfield Dreams.
Another book I like to use when teaching memoir is Childtimes. It is also written by a familiar author: Eloise Greenfield. This is a three-generation memoir because it takes you across three generations in this family. This is not just a chronicle of stories from a family, it takes you into the heart of that family. As you read the happy, sad, and always vivid stories, you are being taught the art of writing memoir.
In the book My Life in Dog Years, another favorite author, Gary Paulsen, shares his life but it now is using all the dogs in his life. I especially like this book because it would be one that I could use as a mentor text and make my own life in dog years. I think this memoir would be one that the boys in the upper grades would connect with and use for their own.
The last book is the year of goodbyes by Debbie Levy. This is a new book to me and I really bought it when I was studying historical fiction. This memoir is from the view point of a Jewish girl in 1938 living in Germany. This is a book of memoirs telling the Salzberg family's last year in Germany. It was a year of change. This book might be more for middle school children than elementary.