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05 August 2016 @ 07:13 pm
Reading Autobiography Part Two  
I have been fielding requests for more information about the reading autobiography I ask my students to create for the YA literature class I teach. As I mentioned already, this "assignment" originated with G. Robert Carlsen many decades ago and was the first assignment I did when I took YA literature class from Dick Abrahamsson more than 20 years ago. I have had the pleasure of reading hundreds upon hundreds of these pieces over the 25+ years I have been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in YA literature. These insights have shaped my teaching and my writing. So, here is a document I add to the course to give students a bit more of what I seek when I ask them to complete their reading autobiography. I think this is an infinitely adjustable piece to use with kids. In he past 10 years, many students have opted to use something other than a personal essay. I have Padlets, Prezis, Ppower Points, Smores, and videos, and timelines. While you could limit how this is done, I have discovered that, by giving students complete freedom in terms of product, are submissions that are above and beyond the confines of the assignment. I love what I learn about students at the start of each semester. This is especially valuable as we have moved to online coursework. I really feel I get to know the individual quickly. Moreover, the feedback from students has been incredibly positive. Many comment on how much fun it was to pull back these childhood memories, how they talked to family members and learned some things as well. So, here is the additional piece I give students. They also get to see MY reading autobiography and the timeline I created for it as well.

Reading Autobiography

Write your reading autobiography. A reading autobiography is your personal memoir of being read to, of learning to read, of titles, of authors, and of genres of books you read growing up. It’s your description of the memories you have of reading and libraries, either positive or negative. Did you read with a special person? Did you have a favorite place or time to read. Focus more on your secondary years than your early years. What reading experiences did you have as a teen? Include what you like to read as an adult but limit that phase of your reading. As a child and as a teen did you enjoy reading? As an adult, do you enjoy reading? How do you show your enthusiasm for reading to students? Do you participate in any student- oriented social networks or other digital forms?


1 Use first person. This is a memoir, and first person is correct for this assignment.
2 Before you begin, try brainstorming a list of memories you have from your early years (before school, too) and throughout elementary, middle, high school, and college into adulthood.
3 These memories can be positive and negative. Be honest about how you felt about books and reading.
4 Talk to family about memories you may have forgotten.
5 Write an interesting introduction to pull readers into the narrative.
6 Write a conclusion that wraps up the narrative.
7 Be certain to discuss how you model a love of reading to your students.
8 This assignment is submitted to Blackboard.
9 Be sure to include specifics: titles, authors, teachers,
10. Use paragraphs as you move from one time period in your life to another.

Note: Though this assignment is set up for an essay, you might wish to explore completing it in a different format (i.e., a reading timeline, perhaps? Or a Prezi?). Use your imagination but make sure you cover all the bases/requirements. Whenintime.com might be something you investigate. A S’more would work, so would a Padlet.
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