Literacy Narrative

Literacy Narrative Assignment Sheet A
created by:
Sarah Mason
Ricardo Correa
Nick Pearce
Kacee Belcher

Literacy Narrative Instructions
Florida International University
ENC 1101: Writing and Rhetoric

A Literacy Narrative is a type of autobiographical essay which explores your experiences and relationship with language (speaking, listening, writing, and reading, or a combination of these) and confirms their significance to you and your audience.

Your diverse peers (classmates), and your teacher(s).

Purpose / Task:
Compose a 1,000-1,500 words (or 3-5 double spaced pages) literacy narrative that tells the story of how speaking, listening, writing, and reading (or a combination of these) changed your life in some significant way, and gives insight into what shaped the literate person you’ve become.

“The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” Sherman Alexie
“The Naturalization” Natalia Trevino
“Mother Tongue” Amy Tan
“Living in Tongues” Luc Sante

Writing Strategies:
As your Allyn and Bacon text suggests, good writing begins with good questions, so you want to begin by identifying a significant and interesting question pertaining to your life with language and your own literacy practices. Then we’ll look at models of literacy narratives to give you some ideas for approaching your own essay in terms of content, style, and structure.

1. Monday, January 30th: First draft due to
2. Wednesday, February 1st. Conference first draft
3. Sunday, February 5th at noon: Final draft and Reflection Memo due to (100 points)

During this unit we will work to:
● Produce a final written project that indicates a clear rhetorical purpose and that is appropriate for a diverse audience of peers;
● Use conventions of open-form prose;
● Show engagement with issues of language, literacy, rhetoric, or cultures;
● Demonstrate knowledge of persuasive appeals and rhetorical concepts learned in the introductory unit;
● Use specific language (descriptive, figurative, with attention paid to word choice);
● Produce a final draft that shows evidence of a thoughtful writing process, including invention, revision, and proof-reading;
● Use syntax, punctuation, and spelling effectively in service of rhetorical purpose.

Grading Criteria:
(See Literacy Narrative Rubric for details)

Writer’s Memo 10pts 10%
Rhetorical Purpose & Audience 10pts 10%
Use of Open Form Conventions 20pts 20%
Subject Matter & Theme 10pts 10%
Use of Persuasive Appeals and Rhetorical Concepts 20pts 20%
Narrative Language 20pts 20%
Syntax, Punctuation & Spelling 10pts 10%
Total 100pts 100%

Literacy Narrative Assignment Sheet B
created by:
Nick Vagnoni

Essay #1: Autobiographical Literacy Narrative

Your first major writing assignment in ENC 1101 will be an autobiographical narrative. More specifically, you will be writing a literacy narrative—an open-form piece that deals with your own experiences with language, writing, reading, or communication. In this unit, we’ve read and will continue to read and discuss several autobiographical narratives, such as Luc Sante’s “Living in Tongues” and Sherman Alexie’s “The Joy of Reading and Writing.” For many of us, the first thing that the word literacy suggests is reading and the ability to read, but your literacy narratives needn’t just be about reading. Literacy encompasses a wide variety of topics, including language, literature, writing, reading, communication, and the technology that affects each of these areas so strongly these days. Keep in mind also that communication comes in many forms–humor, gestures, eye contact, music and even food . We “read” one another in a wide variety of ways.

Your purpose here is to think critically about the roles that literacy, language, and communication have played in your life, and to entertain and inform your readers by writing about your experiences. Your audience for this assignment should be your classmates and your instructors. Your topic doesn’t have to be monumental, but it should be clear to your readers why the events in your narrative were significant, interesting, and problematic to you.

As we’ve discussed in class, good writing often starts with interesting, problematic questions, so here are a few questions you might consider when trying to think of a topic for your literacy narrative:

-In what specific ways has the language (or languages) you speak affected you throughout your life?

-Has a specific type of writing or communication–poetry, journaling, texting, Facebook posts–ever played an especially important role in your life? How did the medium (i.e., the type of communication) affect the outcome? What rhetorical choices were involved?

-How significant is language or reading or writing in your family? In your job? In some other aspect of your life?

-If you speak more than one language, what problems or opportunities has this presented you with?

-Can you recall a specific moment where you realized the potential of literature, such as a story or author that really made you feel something? How does this affect you still?

-Do you remember learning to read or teaching someone else to read?

-Was there a particular teacher that influenced how you viewed reading, writing, or language? What lasting effects does this person still have in your life?

-Do you journal or keep a diary? Why? How did you start?

Remember that these are just a few suggestions. The focus of your literacy narrative is ultimately up to you.
Throughout your brainstorming, writing, and revising process, keep in mind the elements of an autobiographical narrative outlined in Chapter 6 of Allyn and Bacon. Your literacy narrative should contain the following:

-Descriptive and figurative language that gives the reader clear images of what you are writing about.

-A series of events connected either thematically or chronologically, not just an “and then chronology.”

-A relaxed, conversational writing style. (This isn’t a biology paper. This is you writing about your own life.).

-Thorough reflection on how the events in your narrative have affected or changed you, how they’ve made you the reader, writer, or communicator that you are today.

-Evidence of an effective writing process that involves brainstorming, revision, proofreading, and editing.

-Correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax.


-Friday, September 9 – A complete rough draft (approximately 1000 words) of your literacy narrative is due on Moodle for online peer review by 11:59 P.M. A draft should also be submitted to by the same time.

-Wednesday, September 14 – A second draft (1000 words minimum) of your literacy narrative is due for one-on-one conferences. Submit a draft to by conference time and bring a printed copy to your conference.

-Monday, September 19 – The final draft of your literacy narrative is due to by class time.


Your final draft must be typed, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12-point font. All margins should be one inch. Your final draft should be 1000 words minimum. MLA style should be used in this and all essays for headings, page numbers, etc. (see pages 425-475 in The Everyday Writer for more information on MLA style).

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