Personal Narrative Mentor Texts

10 Mentor Texts for Writing Personal Narratives

Teach your students in elementary and middle school how to write an engaging personal narrative using mentor texts! Mentor texts provide valuable examples and inspiration, foster critical thinking, and empower students to become skilled and confident storytellers. The titles listed below are organized according to the element of narrative writing they best serve, including signal words, imagery, figurative language, and dialogue. Teaching ideas for using the mentor texts are also included.

What is a personal narrative?

Personal Narrative Infographic

Personal Narrative Examples

The mentor texts listed below are perfect for introducing your narrative writing unit. You can also use them to provide students with personal narrative examples. By analyzing these texts, students can observe how authors structure their narratives, develop characters, create engaging dialogue, use descriptive language, and craft a compelling story.

Hiking Day by Anne Rockwell

Hiking Day Book

Applesauce Day by Lisa J. Amstutz

Applesauce Day Book

Personal Narrative Writing Unit

Click here to download the Personal Narrative Writing Unit!

  • Step-by-Step Writing Unit
  • Print & Digital 
  • Anchor Charts
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Mentor Text
  • Checklists
  • Rubric
  • Mini-Lessons

Everything you need to teach students how to write a personal narrative!

Mentor Texts for Signal Words

Use the mentor texts listed below to show students how to incorporate signal words when describing a sequence of events in chronological order. Signal words like “first” and “next” show shifts in time and setting. 

Stella Tells Her Story by Janiel Wagstaff

Stella Tells Her Story

The Gingerbread Man by Gail Yerrill

Gingerbread Man Book

Mentor Texts for Sensory Details

The mentor texts listed below are perfect for teaching students the importance of imagery. Including detailed descriptions that appeal to the five senses will make the personal narrative come alive for the reader. Click here to download a FREE printable list of 100 sensory words!

Hello Ocean by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Hello Ocean Book

Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon

Magnificent Homespun Brown

Mentor Texts for Figurative Language

The mentor texts listed below will show students how to add a layer of meaning to their writing using figurative language.  Adding figurative language will make their personal narratives easier to understand and more interesting to read. Starting with a handful of figurative language types like simile, metaphor, personification, and onomatopoeia will help students get started without feeling overwhelmed.  

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Owl Moon Book

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard

Fry Bread Book

Mentor Texts for Dialogue

In a personal narrative, dialogue can be words characters speak out loud or words characters speak to themselves. Adding dialogue helps the reader understand the characters. It also helps moves the story forward. The mentor texts listed below contain numerous examples of internal and external dialogue.

External Dialogue: Words characters speak out loud

Internal Dialogue: Words characters speak/think to themselves

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari Jumps Book

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Corduroy book

Click here to get the lesson plan for teaching students how to write dialogue.

Ideas for Using Mentor Texts in the Classroom

  • Compare texts with a process grid. List the elements of a personal narrative across the top and mentor text titles down the side. For each title, add examples of signal words, sensory details, figurative language, and dialogue.
  • Create mentor text stations. Students analyze a different mentor text and element of writing at each station. For example, at the first station, students will need to identify three signal words and phrases found in the mentor text.
  • Scaffold writing instruction. Use the mentor text listed above to guide students through the narrative writing process. Start with the personal narrative examples, move to signal words, etc. This type of modeling and guided practice will allow students to build a strong foundation before moving to the next skill.

When you add mentor texts to your writing instruction, you…

  • provide students with concrete examples
  • allow students to see the possibilities for their own writing
  • help students to become confident writers
Personal Narrative Mentor Texts
Personal Narrative Introduction Worksheet
Personal Narrative Sensory Details
Personal Narrative Figurative Language
How to Write a Personal Narrative Presentation

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10 Narrative Writing Mentor Texts For Elementary & Middle School Teachers