Rhetoric & Composition

Assignment 1: Literacy Narrative

For this assignment, you will describe and analyze the meaning of a personal experience you’ve had with writing or reading. You will write a narrative in which you select a particular moment or episode from your past that involved writing or reading and compose a first-person account that brings that memory to life.

Your narrative should have two equally important goals: (1) to tell the story of this literacy event in a vivid and engaging manner and (2) to explain the significance of your story in relation to literacy– what your story reveals about the meaning and use of writing.

What are literacy narratives?

A literacy narrative describes particular moments in which people encounter writing. These narratives focus on moments that, for one reason or another, are especially descriptive about an individual’s personal experience with writing –when something about the nature and function of writing came to light in a special or dramatic way.

Literacy narratives do not give a complete history of a person’s writing experience. Instead, they describe one or two moments or episodes in a person’s experience. Your task will be to choose one or two moments in your past to describe and to write about these memories in a way that invites readers to experience them as though they were part of the action, living the memory alongside you. Additionally, your narrative needs to thoughtfully communicate why and how this memory has shaped your understanding of the nature or function of writing or has given you a valuable perspective on your relationship to literacy.


  1. Your narrative should focus on one or two concrete moments or episodes from your past experiences with writing or reading. (Do not summarize your whole writing life.)
  2. Tell your story using the first-person point of view. Use the personal pronoun “I.”
  3. Your narrative should include a thoughtful reflection about what the experience has helped you understand about the nature or function of writing or what valuable perspective it has given you on your relationship to literacy.
  4. Your essay should have a title–strive for one that is meaningful and/or creative.
  5. The final length of this assignment is 3-4 pages (950-1,300 words). Your final submission should be word-processed, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides. Please use 12 point, Times New Roman font.

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