Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: Story Impressions
McGinley, W. J., & Denner, P. R. (1987). Story impressions: A prereading/writing activity. Journal of Reading, 31(3), 248-253.

Overview: The whole idea of this strategy is to give students an opportunity to predict what is going to happen in the story. The teacher creates a list of words from the story that reveal key aspects of the story, including setting, character names or descriptions, plot, and resolution. The student writes the story using these words and phrases. The stories are then shared with the group before the actual story is read.


  1. Students are given the list of words and phrases prepared ahead of time by the teacher.
  2. Individually, or in pairs, they are asked to create a short story, using the words and phrases in the order they were given.
  3. The stories are then shared with the class.
  4. Next, the assigned text is read.
  5. Finally, a discussion is held centering around the similarities and differences between the class creations and the real text.
  6. If a group prefers its own story, time is given for editing and rewriting.


In Story Impressions, the list of words or phrases found below are written either on the chalkboard or on an overhead. The teacher may wish to list them on a worksheet that is given to each child. The strategy can be introduced in the following way:

"Today we are going to start a new novel. The title is A Long Way From Chicago. The author is Richard Peck. We are going to start with the prologue. I have written some words and phrases on the (board, overhead, worksheet), and I'd like you to read these with me."


Joey and Mary Alice


big and old

tough as a boot


After the list has been read, explain to the students that they are to use these words and phrases to develop a prologue. (This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups.) Be sure they understand that they must use the words and phrases in the same sequence as listed. The students are then given sufficient time to write. When they have finished their prologues, they are shared with the entire class.

The final step in the project is for each child to read the prologue as written by Richard Peck. The author's work is then compared to the students'. A discussion ensues as to similarities and differences. If an individual or group choose to develop their prologue into a story, time is given during class for this project.

When the students become adept at this strategy, it is advisable to introduce entire chapters this way. It is surprising how this strategy motivates all of the children to read.


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