Most of us are familiar with what is called “expository nonfiction.” These are the texts that explain the "Bill of Rights" or describe the planets of the solar system.
But what exactly is narrativenonfiction? Simply put, it’s a text that gets factual information across in a form that uses many of the elements of storytelling. An author of narrative nonfiction will typically introduce an actual character (perhaps a baseball player or a baby polar bear at the zoo) and narrate some sort of experience or journey that character has taken, all the while teaching kids a thing or two about history or zoology along the way.
By using a narrative structure (first this happened, then that, and that, and that), writers can relate nonfiction material using many of the techniques of the storyteller: characterization, dramatic tensions, foreshadowing, etc.
Narrative nonfiction provides kids with information in a format that is interesting to them.
1. Write about someone you admire from afar—a public figure or celebrity.
2. Revisit your earliest memories of learning about faith, religion, or spirituality.
3. Write a how-to article about a task, activity, or project you’ve learned to complete through practical experience in your career.
4. Have you ever had déjà vu—the strange sense that you’ve experienced something before? Write a personal essay about it.
5. What is the number-one goal you want to achieve as a writer? To reach your main writing goal, what do you need to do?
6. Think about what your favorite holiday means to you. Why do you celebrate it? How does it shape or affect your life for the rest of the year?
7. Heartbreak is part of life and full of lessons. Tell the story of a heartbreak you’ve experienced.
8. Write a critical review of your favorite book. What made it so good? Could it have been better? Provide a detailed analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.
9. Remember when you were a little kid and you learned something new about life or how the world works? Write an article for kids about what you learned, how you learned it, and how you felt about it. For example: learning where food comes from.
10. Have you ever felt like you were meant for something, that some event or moment in your life was fated? Have you ever felt an inexplicable call to do something? Where do you think this feeling comes from? Write about it.
11. Read your favorite poem and take a few minutes to contemplate it. Then write a reaction to the poem. Why do you love it? How does it make you feel? What makes this poem so special to you? If you don’t have a favorite poem, write about your favorite song lyrics.
12. Write a top-ten article listing your favorite songs or albums with short explanations of why each one earned a spot on your list.
13. Do you believe the existence of a higher power can be proven or disproved? Write a personal essay about it.
14. Art is all around. You can purchase books packed with images of art. You can visit museums and galleries. You can surf the web for photographs of paintings and sculptures. Choose a piece of art that speaks to you and write about it. Describe the piece. How does it make you feel? What details give it power or make it captivating?
15. They say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Whom have you loved and lost?
16. Think back on some embarrassing moments that you’ve experienced. Now write a series of scenes depicting those moments.
17. Write a how-to article about something you can do that is not part of your job (for example: how to bake a cake from scratch or how to change the oil in your car).
18. What do you like to wear during summer, winter, fall, or spring? Write about your sense of fashion (or lack thereof). Does it change with the seasons?
19. Tell a story about one (or both) of your parents.
20. Write about your experience with a mentor, teacher, or coach, explaining how working with someone more knowledgeable than you helped you.
21. What determines an action or person as good or evil? Who gets to decide what or who is good or evil? Write a personal essay about it.
22. Think about the last book you read. How did the book make you feel? Were you sad? Scared? Intrigued? What was it about the book that evoked an emotional response from you? Was it the characters? The plot? The subject matter?