How to use Six-Word Memoirs to Fuel Reading in March and Every month

March is National Reading Month. 

Every month is reading month for teachers. It’s impossible to give reading too much attention. It’s the cornerstone of all learning. And in March, schools across the country will celebrate reading in a variety of ways.

Teachers and principals have been using Six-Word Memoirs to help their students engage more deeply with what they’re reading, challenging students to use the six word format to summarize storylines and define characters.

Curious about what other teachers are doing? Here's some inspiration. Each year at Metamora Township High School in Illinois, Tabitha Cooper’s students read Jeannette Walls' memoir, The Glass Castle. Then, every student creates their own Six-Word memoir about an event in their life. Read more about Cooper’s yearly project here.

Here is how to use Six-Word Memoirs to fuel reading next and every month.

Six-Word Book Summaries
Students love movies and music. The job of movie and music reviewers is to communicate their opinion about the work they’re reviewing clearly and concisely (especially on TikTok!).

Learning Objective
Summarize the central ideas of a text


  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Task Time: 15 minutes

Reviewers are professionals who help people decide whether a work of art is something others would enjoy. In addition to giving their opinion on a book, movie, show, or album, they need to summarize what it’s about. These summaries boil a work of art down to its essence, communicating the work’s big idea.

Ask students to consider a book they’ve read for National Reading Month and create a six word summary of that book. Remind them to evaluate what events or ideas are most important and communicate these succinctly. Once they’ve created their six word summary, they can share it with a partner who can decide whether the summary made them want to read the book — just like a real review!

Six-Word Book Outlines

Learning Objective
Identify a central theme for a work of fiction or nonfiction


  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Task Time: 10 minutes

Every book has a big idea. And those big ideas don’t happen by accident.

Authors are intentional when they craft their manuscripts, consciously weaving a theme or thesis through their writing.

Many writers find it helpful to identify their theme before they begin writing so that they can intentionally incorporate it into their work.

Ask students to imagine they’re writing a book (fiction or nonfiction). Before they can begin writing their manuscript, they need to create a thesis or theme.

Ask them to write a central idea for their book in exactly six words.

Here are some prompts to help get your students started

Elementary school students:

  • I know a lot about…
  • I have the most fun when I…
  • I wish more people would…

Middle school students:

  • The world would be better if…
  • Everyone needs to hear about…
  • My life changed when I…

High school students:  

  • One thing I know is true…
  • Something many people forget…
  • My life has taught me… 

Follow-Up Activity
In pairs or small groups, have students read their big ideas to each other. Students can share ideas for how their six words could be developed into a longer book. 

See what other classes have done with Six-Word Memoirs!

Try the lesson plan by clicking the button below 👇 and if you like we can turn what your students create into a book!

Written By:

Larry Smith

Big Hair, Big Heart, Big Hurry.

Founder of Six-Word Memoirs

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