Recently a friend asked me to help him help his daughter write an autobiography. As adults we have fairly set ideas about the format of a biography or autobiography. They are usually chronological and include set details such as birth, milestones, siblings, and so on. Children, lacking familiarity with the format, often find other more interesting ways to tell about themselves.
For example, a child could tell her life story as a history of her teeth. From toothless baby to tooth fairy, to bobbing for apples (does anyone do that any more?) this might be a fun way to talk about one's life. By focusing the story on a particular slice of ones life, it might make for a more interesting story.
A book that could be used as a model is My Map Book by Sara Fanelli. Each page spread contains an unusual map. This one (below) is labeled a map of my day, with the toothbrush at the left and the night sky on the right. Each strip contains an activity that make a typical day in the life.
At Writers in the Schools (WITS), the map of my heart is another popular model for creative writing that comes from Fanelli's map book.The young writer sketches a heart and fills it with all the things s/he cherishes most.Modeling the brainstorming phase is important.The child uses the sketch to write a story or poem.