The Narrative Essay

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 9th Grade English: Tutoring Solution


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How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Definition & ExampleNext Lesson 

How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay: Example & Topics

Chapter 13


 Lesson 6

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  • Quiz & Worksheet – Writing a Personal Narrative Essay

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This lesson will highlight personal narrative essay topics and examples that will allow your students to write from their own experiences. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge about personal narrative essay writing.


Personal narratives are great ways to have your students write from their own perspectives. Unlike many other forms of writing (i.e. expository, persuasive), personal narratives give them a way to express what they are feeling or thinking on an individual level, with you as the teacher offering them guidance along the way. Although you will choose the topics that your students will be writing about, they will pretty much have the freedom to engage in the composition process using their own insights and creativity to produce a final product.

Even though your students are writing about their own personal experiences, they will need to have a rubric, or guideline, that will tell them exactly what you are looking for in their essays. You will want to be as detailed as possible about your expectations, because your students should be able to refer back to the rubric as they are completing drafts of the essay. Many rubrics are based on points. For example, you may ask students to give at least four descriptive details about an event that took place that they will write about. Every detail would then be assigned a point, so a student that includes all four descriptive details earns four points, whereas three details would earn three points. As the number of details decrease, so would the student’s overall points.

Topics and Examples

Depending on the age of your students, their experiences may be limited. This is why personal narrative topics should be age-appropriate, so that they can relate to that which they are expected to write about. However, there are several common topics that can be used to get your students into creative mode.

  • Summer Vacation – This topic will allow students to remember a favorite vacation spot or event that took place while they were out of school for the summer. Students should be encouraged to give as much descriptive details as possible to make the essay come alive. You, as the teacher, should remind the student that their reader should feel as though they experienced the vacation as well. For example, if a student spent some time at the beach, then the reader should be able to envision the student’s experience there. What color was the water? What was the temperature? How did the sand feel beneath their feet? These are all possible questions that the essay writer can address through details. This is where the rubric will come in handy, explaining the necessary components that the writer must include in order to get the highest points possible.
  • Holiday Memory – Having students focus on the holidays gives them more of an option, because there are so many holidays celebrated throughout the year. It may be more practical to allow your students to choose their own holiday to write about, rather than instructing them to focus only on Christmas or Thanksgiving, since not all students celebrate these holidays. Giving students the option to choose also opens up more of a cultural perspective; different holidays are celebrated by different cultures. Not only are you recognizing the importance of cultural sharing, you are also embracing diversity in your classroom.
  • Favorite Relative – Many students have a relative that they admire or to whom they can relate. Encourage them to write graphically about this person, demonstrating why he or she is a favorite relative. What does the person look like? What are his talents or skills? What kind of bond does the student share with this relative? Caution your students not to just write something along the lines of ‘I like Uncle Henry because he is nice.’ Personal essays should give vivid, rich accounts of the writer’s experiences. A more suitable sentence would read: ‘I like Uncle Henry because whenever he comes to our house he’s always wearing the same faded blue overalls and he smells like motor oil.’ This sentence gives the reader a mental image of Uncle Henry, and it also appeals to the reader’s sense of smell, as most of people have caught a whiff of motor oil. Your rubric may include points for whether the reader appealed to at least three of the five senses. This would let your students know how important it will be for them to give as much information as possible about their chosen relative, so that they can receive the maximum rubric points.

Other narrative essay topics that you may consider are:

  1. What was the best/worst day of your life (middle and high school)?
  2. What does freedom mean to you (middle and high school)?
  3. Describe a time when you felt completely alone (elementary, middle and high school).
  4. Define a role model and describe the person who you think is a good role model (middle and high school).
  5. What literary or television character do you most identify with and why? (upper elementary, middle and high school).


Personal narrative essays can allow your students to demonstrate their writing skills from their own perspectives. Not only will this give you, as the teacher, the opportunity to learn new things about your students, but it can also give your students the opportunity to explore their own thoughts and ideas about subject matter that is meaningful to them.

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Ch 13. 9th Grade Essay Basics: Types of Essay:…

  • Narrative Essay: Definition, Examples & Characteristics


  • Descriptive Essay: Definition, Examples & Characteristics


  • Informative Essay: Definition, Examples & Structure


  • Components of Writing a Persuasive Essay


  • Evaluative Essay: Examples, Format & Characteristics


  • How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay: Example & Topics

  • 6:43

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    How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Definition & Example

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