Teaching Students to Compose Strong Narrative Leads

We recently finished our writing unit on personal narratives.  As with all of my units, I like to take a little time to reflect on what went well, as well as what I would like to do differently.  Today I'd like to share my thoughts and strategies on narrative leads.  We spent quite a bit of time discussing how to compose narrative leads that hook readers.  Overall, I was very pleased with the leads my students used for their narratives.

Great resources to help your students compose strong narrative leads!

First, I went back and talked about the leads in several of our past read alouds.  I have used a variety of narratives mentor texts over the years.  The image below shows three of my all time favorites.

Mentor texts with strong narrative leads

After going over these leads, we discussed the different strategies authors used to hook their readers.  I gave my students the list below to glue in their notebooks and to use as a reference.   You can download these charts here.

These great charts for writing strong leads are perfect for interactive notebooks!  They are a free download on this post.

I also gave them this list to play "Name that Lead".  

Students practice identifying strong narrative leads.  This activity is a free download.

I showed students a variety of leads on our SMART Board, and they had to identify the strategy that was used by placing the number on the lines provided.  I was very flexible with their responses.  I was not looking for a precise answer, but rather I wanted students to be inspired to craft their own leads.  Here are the leads we used.

This editable Slides presentation provides great models for writing strong narrative leads.

(Download a free editable version here.  The fonts will be different because the original was created on Power Point.)

Next year I may try a twist to this activity.  In order to get more students actively involved in the discussion, I was thinking about printing out the leads and setting them out around the room.  Students could read the leads in small groups and discuss what type of lead was used.

We will continue to address composing strong leads as we write different genres throughout the year.  One of the things I like best about teaching second grade is the huge growth that I see in my students as writers.  I am looking forward to seeing how they take what we have learned and apply it to future writings. 

I would love to know if you have a favorite mentor text for teaching narrative leads.  I am always on the lookout for great books!

Great resources to help your students compose strong narrative leads!

Thank you, and have a great week!



  1. This is great practice for students and hopefully inspires them in creating their own leads! I can't find the editable version of the Name that lead you mentioned in the post.

    1. Thank you! I added the link below the narrative leads. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention!



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