Writing

What is a literacy narrative? It is a personal story about a significant experience that has to do with your literacy development. For the purpose of this essay, you should stick with a fairly narrow definition of literacy that focuses on your personal reading and/or writing experiences.

To make an effective essay from one of your personal literacy experiences, you must not only tell the story but also explain how and why it was an important moment both in your literacy development and your life. What did you learn from this experience? How did it help you change and grow? What can you say about this experience that will help others to identify with it or learn from it?

Sample literacy narrative essay topics and thesis statement

For your narrative essay, you will need to reflect on how personal experiences have shaped your literacy development. “Literacy” refers to reading and writing for the purpose of acquiring knowledge. You will choose from one of the following topics:

  • Narrate an experience you had with a writing or reading task that you found (or still find) difficult or challenging. Explain the significance of this experience.
  • Describe an important moment or event in your literacy development. Explain the significance of this event.
  • Narrate a time when your literacy skills have helped you achieve a personal goal or accomplishment. Explain the significance of this accomplishment.
  • Describe a time when you have used reading or writing to learn in an environment other than the classroom. Explain the significance of this event.

As you decide on a topic, think about which one would allow you to make a larger point. In other words, in addition to describing one of these moments or events and telling a story, you want to explore how it has impacted you on a greater scale. Ask yourself: are there additional life lesson(s) that I learned along the way? The answer to that question could lay the groundwork for your thesis statement.

Here is an example of a thesis statement for a narrative essay that describes the writer’s experience of using literacy skills to achieve a goal:

When I set out to save a historical grist mill in my community that was slated for demolition, I learned how valuable my writing skills could be. My letters to the local newspaper got the attention of community leaders and turned the tide of public opinion about the mill’s value, and the grant I wrote raised money for a restoration project.

The first paragraph of your paper, the introduction, should grab the reader’s attention, provide general background information on the topic you are addressing, and conclude with your thesis statement. Consider the following outline for the introduction:

A. Attention Getter: First, pique your reader’s interest by identifying the important literacy moment for your reader.

B. Background and Context: Then, provide details that set the scene for the reader so s/he will understand why the moment was important.

C. Thesis: Finally, end your introduction with your thesis statement. Your thesis will have a claim that explains the importance of your particular literacy moment and 2-4 points of support that explain why it was significant. These 2-4 points of support will be developed in the body of your essay.

The template below is a useful one for a literacy narrative thesis:

______________________ is one of the most important moments in my literacy development because ____________, ________________, and _________________.

Body paragraphs

In the body of the essay, the writer will explore each of the three supporting points (how she used writing to get the attention of community leaders, how she used writing to affect public opinion, and how her writing skills helped her get funding for a project she believed in).

The paragraph following the introduction should begin with a clear topic sentence that introduces the first supporting point presented in the thesis statement. Make sure each thesis point is developed into at least one body paragraph of your essay.

Conclusion

In the conclusion, you should include your thesis statement and a 1-2 sentence summary of each of the points discussed in the paper.

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