by Maureen McLaughlin
The following are not questions to be answered, but rather ideas to prompt thinking as readers create their literacy histories. Please note the list is not definitive, and that the prompts primarily address reading and writing. If your students are writing their Histories, they may reflect on the entire list or you may provide selected prompts. Please also note that many students enjoy using technology to create electronic memory books to represent their Literacy Histories.
1. What are your earliest memories of reading and writing?
2. Before you were able to read, did you pretend to read books? Can you remember the first time you read a book? What was it?
3. Can you recall your early writing attempts (scribbling, labeling drawings, etc.)? How would you describe those experiences?
4. Do you read and/or write with your siblings or friends? Please detail a few examples.
5. Is a newspaper delivered to your home? Do you read it? Do you regularly read one through your computer/i-Pad/phone? If you have access to a newspaper, which sections do you read? Why do you choose to read those?
6. Do you subscribe to magazines (hard copy or electronic)? Do your parents/siblings have magazine subscriptions (hard copy or electronic)?
7. Do you belong to a library and/or book club? Do you maintain a personal library (hard copy or electronic)? Do you read for pleasure (hard copy or electronic)? Please provide examples.
8. Do you receive or send mail (hard copy or electronic) e.g., messages, birthday cards, thank-you notes?
9. Can you detail your first memories of reading and/or writing instruction? Materials used? Methods of teaching? Content?
10. What memories do you have of reading for pleasure in elementary school? Middle school? High school? College?
11. What are your memories of reading in disciplinary subjects, such as science, social studies, language, and mathematics in elementary school? Middle? High school? College?
12. Can you remember writing for pleasure in elementary school? Middle school? High school? College? Please provide an example.
13. What are your memories of writing in disciplinary subjects?
14. Who were your best teachers? What made them so great?
15. Can you recall the first book you chose to read? Why did you read it?
16. Can you recall your first writing assignment? Can you recall the first time you wrote creatively? Please provide examples.
17. Do you remember the purposes for your reading and writing in elementary, middle, and high school? Do you recall any particular type of instruction you received? Can you describe any instructional materials that were used? Please include the role of technology.
18. Can you recall the first book you loved (couldn’t put down)? Please provide an example.
19. Do you feel that you’ve ever read a book that has made a difference in your life? Please recount the details
20. Have you shared books with friends? Please provide example titles and explain why you read them.
21. Did you read a certain type of book (i.e., mysteries, biographies) at a particular age? Why do you think you made such choices? Do you still read those genres now?
22. How do you think technology has affected your reading and writing?
23. When did you first visit a bookstore? What was it like?
24. What is your all-time favorite book? Why is it your favorite?
25. Have you ever seen a book you’ve read turned into a film? Explain which you preferred and why.
26. How do you think your reading and writing abilities have contributed to your life?
27. Are you a reader now? What are you currently reading? Why are you reading it?
28. Are you a writer now? What are you currently writing? Why are you writing it?
Maureen McLaughlin is the president of the International Reading Association and the chair of the reading department and a professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, email@example.com. She is the author of Guided Comprehension in Grades 3–8 (with Mary Beth Allen), Guided Comprehension in the Primary Grades (2nd ed.), and Guided Comprehension for English Learners, as well as a series of professional development books on the Common Core with Brenda J. Overturf.
This piece was published online as an addendum to her "President's Message" column in the June/July 2013 issue of Reading Today. IRA members can read the interactive digital version of the magazine here. Nonmembers: join today!