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A Suggestion for Units on Writing Narratives/Memoirs
Teaching students to write about their own memories? Here's a mentor text suggestion:

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Here's an idea from a fellow teacher:

Memoirs about Telling Lies that Hurt

This review/activity was generously shared with us by Nevada teacher Donna Chaney during an
NNWP-sponsored inservice class

on narrative and memoir.

There are many marvelous "mentor texts" that can be used when teaching a unit on narrative or memoir. The review of the book, Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers, and the activity on this page were written by a Nevada teacher during an in-service class for teachers sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project.

Are you a fan of WritingFix? Use this link to purchase Bad Boy: A Memoir from and WritingFix will receive a small donation to help us continue posting free-to-use resources.

Washoe County teachers, click here to search for this title at the county library.

Two Book Reviews & an Activity Suggestion:

Walter Dean Myers' Bad Boy is about the author's life growing up in the streets of Harlem. As a young boy he was labeled a “bad boy,” and his reputation followed him throughout his elementary school years. It wasn’t that he was bad; he was just a spirited young boy enjoying life to the best of his abilities. On one occasion, he decided to “catch” a ride on the back end of a cab. Cabs rarely came into Harlem so this would be a treat. He missed the cab but got his shirt caught on the bumper and was dragged down the street. Picking himself up at the end of the ride, Walter slowly and painstakingly walked home. He went straight to his room and lay down until dinner time. When his father called him to dinner, Walter was walking so stiff-legged that his father couldn’t help but notice. When he asked Walter what the matter was, Walter told him that his legs hurt. His father told him to drop his pants. His legs were bruised and bloody. Walter told his father that his mother had beat him, knowing that telling the truth would have gotten him into more trouble than telling a lie.

Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna is about a teacher and baseball coach, Mr. Peabody. On the way to the Saturday baseball games Mr. Peabody stopped at the fruit stand and picked up an apple. One Saturday morning young Tommy saw him take an apple without paying. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends. The following Saturday several other children watched Mr. Peabody take an apple without paying and they couldn’t wait to tell the other kids and their families what they had seen. No one could believe that Mr. Peabody was a thief. No one showed up for the game on the following Saturday except Billy. When Mr. Peabody asked where the others where Billy told him that everyone thought he was a thief and they weren’t coming. Mr. Peabody walked to the fruit stand and picked up his weekly apple. Billy found out that Mr. Peabody paid in advance for his weekly apples and that he really wasn’t a thief. Mr. Peabody asked Billy to go get Tommy. When Tommy arrived at Mr. Peabody’s house he was asked to meet Mr. Peabody at the baseball field and “please bring a feather pillow.” Thinking this a strange request, Tommy arrived with his pillow. Mr. Peabody asked Tommy to cut the pillow open and spread all the feathers. Tommy thought this was all it would take for him to be pardoned but Mr. Peabody told him that he now needed to go and pick up all the feathers to undo what he had done.

Students will be asked to think about a time when they might have told an untruth because it was better to do that than to suffer for the truth. They will also be asked to think about a time when they might have told an untruth which caused harm to another and had to undo that untruth. Students will be given a small baggie of feathers as a reminder that it isn’t so easy to undo the harm. It will serve as a reminder that some feathers might never be picked up.


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