Reader’s Memoir

In a brief, well-developed essay, reflect on your experiences as a reader. You may focus on a particularly meaningful reading experience—either in school or out—or you can provide a general overview. As such, essays can range in focus and scope, depth and breadth. Your essay should, however, address significant works you’ve read and give me a better idea, overall, of the kind of reader you are. After reading your essay, your attitudes and experiences about reading should be clear to your audience. Your essay should not be a list of works you’ve read, but rather a reflection on those works that have played a significant role in your development as a reader, in a positive or negative way.

This is a personal essay; your voice emerges through thoughtful choice of words and sentence structures. Be sure that each paragraph is focused (avoid writing the “one-paragraph essay”). Consider telling a story, giving a well-chosen example, comparing and contrasting, providing a definition of what makes a good book to you, etc. At least half of the time you spend working on this essay should be focused on reflection.

Be prepared to share (read aloud) your essay in whole or in part with the class on the due date. 1 ½ to 2 pages, double-spaced.

Consider addressing the following questions in your essay. The best essays will touch on most of the questions below while focusing/developing one or two of the questions in more detail.

  • What type of reader are you?
  • What types of books do you like to read? Why? (Consider your reading trees!)
  • What types of books do you not like to read? Why?
  • Why do you read? For what purpose or goal? (Remember our angles? Do any fit you?)
  • What experiences have shaped your attitudes towards reading? (Look in your notebook at what you wrote in class.)
  • What is your earliest memory of reading?
  • Overall, what does “reading” mean to you?

On Wed-Fri this week, we spent some time in class pre-writing and brainstorming for this essay. Again, our first pre-writing activity―drawing our reading trees―should help you think about the types of reading you’ve done in your life. See below for a draft of my own reading tree (remember to leave yourself at least two pages in your notebook for this tree―we’ll be adding to it throughout the year!):

reading tree

If you need additional inspiration or to see an example of how to write about a specific meaningful book in your life, read the last few paragraphs below. This is an excerpt from an essay by author Kate Walbert about how Charlotte’s Web changed her reading life.

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Below, you can read what The Little Engine that Could meant to journalist Jeff Benedict, both as a child and as an adult.

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And finally, feel free to read my own reader’s memoir that I wrote especially for this assignment. You can find my personal example by clicking here.


(Don’t forget that you also need to bring in your IR book to class that day!)


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