I found that Night of the Veggie Monster has allowed my kids to notice how writers like George McClements use word bubbles, font and punctuation (the ellipses) to enhance or craft a personal story.
Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino worked well as kids noticed that brief dialogue, extra information (they called it) or details and using a memory can help when writing a personal narrative.
I also used When I was Little and When I was Five, both texts that helped us notice that repetition and patterning ( alternating past memories with present recollections) is a option for organizing a story.
We also found that poems are another option for telling a personal story. A poem called Bedtime in When Gorilla Goes Walking and Bouncing in Days Like This helped us see how writers focus in on a moment.
Finally, Letter to the Lake, a beautiful story of a little girl's memory of her summer days by the lake, allowed us to experience that personal stories can be letters written to someone or something (not even human! ). This book also helped us think about how narratives can have different points of view as we listened to the little girl address the lake throughout the story.
I have been encouraging my students to use all of these noticings (that we have charted on paper) and try using a new craft in their narratives. My hope is that the over written personal narrative will come alive. Knowing that there are choices and options for writing a piece, I think excites writers. Having 14 boys in my class I also know that choice and humor are big right now. I am trying angle my instruction so that I am working from their interests. I am also noticing quite a few student also mentoring graphic novels in parts of their narratives. Next, how to make our share/celebration purposeful and unique?!