Narrative Notebooks 

What is a Narrative Notebook?

Narration is putting into your own words what you have learned or read. It allows them to cement their learning by categorizing it in their own words and way of thinking so that it becomes a part of them. A Narrative Notebook is just a collection of narratives centered on a topic or subject.

Many of you may be familiar with Charlotte Mason. She was a strong advocator of narration in a child's education. She may have actually been the first who had her students creating narrative notebooks.

How can they be used in the classroom?

Your students could do a notebook on a book they are reading with narrations from each chapter, or they could write their own history book of narrations from each time frame as they study it. Another idea would be a reading notebook where each book they read could be narrated and placed into genre (types of reading) sections. For example, a biography on Thomas Jefferson would be placed in the biography section. Little House on the Prairie narration would be placed under the section of historical fiction.

How are they created?

You will first need a notebook of some sort. I usually prefer the 3-ring notebooks with the clear pockets on the outside so that the child can develop their own cover and insert it, but I have also used the 3-prong folders for certain books. Whatever you chose, you will want it to be easy to add to throughout a school year or longer.

You will also need some sort of dividers. In our reading notebooks, the girls have dividers with the tabs that you can purchase in office supply stores. In our century notebooks (history), we have different colored paper inserts with the time frames typed on them. In our spelling books, each page is a different letter of the alphabet. 

Samples from our Narrative Notebooks:

Samples from our Century Notebooks:

Book Sources:

Andreola, Karen, A Charlotte Mason Companion, 1998, Charlotte Mason Research and Supply Company (Has some good sections on what narration is and brings up the idea of the century notebook.)

English, Elizabeth, Individualized Reading, 1996, Creative Teaching Press, CTP 3331, Grades 3-6 (Ideas for the Spelling Notebook came from this source.)

(I am sure there are many books on these types of notebooks, but truthfully, I read from these sources or had some college projects that inspired me to develop narration notebook ideas for my girls. All of our forms I've developed for these notebooks can be found at the site listed below.)

Internet Links:

Blank forms that we use for these notebooks can be found at

Heart of Wisdom Bible Portfolios

Heart of Wisdom Unit Study Notebooks

Heart of Wisdom Language Arts Notebooks

Heart of Wisdom Timeline Notebooks (Their version of Charlotte Mason's Century Notebook idea)

The Parker Family Notebook Samples

Well Trained Minds Notebook Suggestions

Catherine Levison's essay on Narration



Background from Graphic Garden