1. Literacy – familiarity, facility, or competence with using at least one area of communication, including receptive (such as reading and listening comprehension) and productive areas of communication (such as written, spoken, and visual communicative competence). As a multimodal communication center, we interpret literacy broadly to include writing, oral communication, visual design, nonverbal communication, and other modalities.
  2. Literacy Narrative – A literacy narrative is a reflective document in which a writer composes a story regarding their process and growth in developing different forms of literacy, including reading, writing, viewing, interpreting, etc. The literacy narrative does not have to define literacy generally, but rather should consist of an exploration and re-definition of literacy in the context of a single individual’s experiences. University instructors in education and other fields often assign literacy narratives in courses as a way to help prospective teachers re-examine their own experiences, lenses, beliefs, and perspectives on literacy and raise questions about what it means to be literate prior to their embarking on a career supporting and guiding students in their individual journeys toward literacy.

For more information on literacy narratives, click here.


All of the literacy narratives that will appear in this archive will respond to the same prompt:

“Write and record a story that reflects on one or more formative experiences you have had with at least one area of literacy, including speaking, listening, visual design, writing, reading, etc. Discuss the influence that the experience has had on your journey toward literacy and how it has become a linguistic resource for you. Your story should in some way convey what the notion of literacy has meant in your life and how it has equipped you with the skills needed to be a consultant and an active global citizen.

This tightly focused, reflective personal narrative should be 1000–1500 words and should be a true story written in prose. An effective personal narrative shows rather than tells (i.e. it relies on concrete details and avoids abstraction) the reader the significance of the experience. Research is not required. Your literacy narrative should adhere to current MLA formatting guidelines.”

The author of a narrative must appeal to the needs and values of their audiences by tailoring their narrative to address those needs within the conventions of the document. This is not a journal entry, but rather a personal narrative describing specific aspects of an individual’s development as a communicator and creating connections between their experiences and the work they do in the center.

These literacy narratives are published in three ways to promote accessibility and dissemination: 1) linked .pdf files, 2) web content, and 3) audio recordings.

Getting Started

Any literacy-linked experience from your life is fodder for a literacy narrative. For example:

  1. Do you remember learning to cook or bake from a recipe card? Did someone in your life teach you to assemble ingredients and appropriate measuring implements? Did you ever knead bread, reading through your fingers the texture of the dough?
  2. What was your favorite book when you were growing up? Was there a character you identified with? Was it Hermione?
  3. Or did you prefer reading the comics section of the newspaper with a parent or a sibling, guffawing when a favorite character landed once again in one of their usual sticky situations?
  4. Did you hate playing Scrabble and other word games with your aunt because she always beat you? Or was Risk your go-to game? What did the fruits of global domination taste like? What did games of any sort teach you about group dynamics or communication?
  5. Did you like drawing flowers with acrylic paint at the kitchen table, sometimes spilling on the table cloth even though you have been told over and over that you needed to put something under your paper?
  6. Do you remember the first time you tried to deliver an oral presentation in middle school, and nobody acted like they cared?
  7. What was your favorite joke in fifth grade? Were you a knock-knock joke teller like your grandpa, or did you prefer more sophisticated jokes like Tom Swifties, A Book Never Written jokes, or other forms of humor taken from the Highlights magazine?
  8. Did you prefer to Zoobooks or National Geographic? Did you read for the photos or the articles?
  9. Do you really think Citizen Kane is the great example of American cinema? What would you replace it with? How have all of the movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels changed your life?
  10.  What was your first word? How has that word come to define everything about who you are as a person? (Note: If the word was ma-ma or da-da, I would like to remind you that your parents do not define you.)

If you need other ideas for brainstorming, click here.

Be specific with that first story. It may come first in your narrative or it might come later, but having an interesting and specific story to build around will help you construct the story of your literacy journey.

Once you identify that key story, start to identify the common threads or patterns in your story and then find a way to connect them to what you do as a consultant in your center.

If you have questions about getting started on your literacy narrative or how to contribute to the archive, email the Naugle CommLab ( or Jeff Howard (