Introduction to the Literacy Narrative

What is the story behind the story?  In this case, what is the writer’s personal experience with reading and writing?  A memoir or journal may document a person’s life story, but the literacy narrative focuses on the important aspects of reading and/or writing.  It is, in essence, a specific type of autobiography—one that deals with your experiences with reading and writing.  The literacy narrative can address both positive and negative experiences with reading and writing and how those experiences affect you as a reader and/or writer today.  The narrative can focus on one specific event or it can span decades of interaction with books and writing. 


Writing A Literacy Narrative

The first thing to consider is what kind of literacy narrative you wish to write.  Will this narrative focus on one event or multiple events?  Will it include your experiences with reading or writing or both?  Often our experiences with reading and writing are connected, but it is ok to choose one or the other if you would rather not focus on both.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you begin your writing:

  1. What is your earliest memory of books?  Were you read to as a child?  Is there a particular book that a family member used to read to you?  That you read yourself?
  2. What is your earliest memory of writing?  Was it positive or negative?
  3. Are there moments when you remember being particularly proud of something you achieved in regard to reading/writing?
  4. Were there hardships or negative memories that involved reading/writing?
  5. Were there memories of school (both positive and negative) that influenced your literacy learning?
  6. What authors/books made an impact on you as a reader/writer.  Again, these can be either positive or negative.


Example of a Personal Literacy Narrative:

By David Goenaga

Who am I as a writer? I would consider myself an average writer. My writing experience has been limited to term papers on given subjects. These subjects have been assigned to me or chosen by me. I’ve never delved into other forms of writings. Sure there have been moments, perhaps in middle school, when I’ve tried to write a poem. There have been times when I’ve written a letter. However, those are few and far between. While I have never been a serious writer, I do recognize the unbelievable advantage good writers have over me. If only I worked on it!

My first formal writing assignment of significant length probably came in the 5th grade. I had to write a chapter for a sequel to a book my class read. It was fun, but I would have rather been in the playground. Through middle school, I had to write about 4-6 papers every semester. These were in assigned subjects and were usually limited to “research papers”, like why the Great Wall of China was so long. In high school, I began to write “opinion papers” in my AP courses related to material covered in class. These ranged from book report type essays to affirmative action related topics. I would say this is where most of my writing experience comes from. Usually when I write a paper, I try to do it all at once. I’m not the type to do 10 drafts and have other people read them.

Essentially, I try to write my final draft in one try. It always ends up being a first draft that I later edit, but I try to make it final. After I write it, I print it and edit it. This is the best way for me to find grammatical errors and the only way to check for sentence structure errors. I then proceed to my final draft. In essence, I try to do the best I can on my first draft and then correct it to make my final draft. This process has led to some pretty good writing. I think my best paper was for AP Literature in high school. I wrote an opinion paper on human cloning. It’s the only paper I’ve ever kept. I remember I got a 92 on it. Then again, maybe it was a 90. Yeah, I’ll go with 90.

I’ve never been big on reading. Only recently (past two years) have I started to read books out of the blue. I really enjoy James Patterson books. They seem long but they read short. This is what I enjoy most about them. Although they’re thick, the words are a good font and the chapters are really short, usually about 4 pages. This allows me to stop whenever I want at the end of a chapter. I also think of him as a great writer though some would argue he is repetitive. My favorite book by Patterson is Judge and Jury. It is about an agent who, after three years, finally brings a mob boss to trial and a woman who finds herself in a cat and mouse game after being chosen as a jurist. I’ve found that reading really does improve my writing. I would say this is the one thing I do when I feel my writing is subpar. Reading helps your mind with syntax and vocabulary. There are words that you wouldn’t normally use in conversation that applied in papers, makes for great writing. The only way to refresh your memory on these words is by reading.
I am far away from being the writer I should be but I’m hoping this class gets me closer to that point. However, I recognize that good writing is something that requires a lot of practice. Only with practice can I achieve the mark of a good writer. I’m shooting for great, I’ll settle with good. [20]