My childhood memories are rich and varied.
I loved visiting my grandma’s apartment, with its fringed window shades and faint smell of eucalyptus. Her desk drawers, lined in green felt, spilled over with card decks, cocktail napkins, and golf tees. Every door in the house was fitted with wobbly crystal doorknobs. The bathroom smelled of Listerine.
My brother and I would sleep in the small bedroom off the kitchen—the very room our mom shared with her own brother growing up in the north side of Chicago.
I can picture myself reaching way down into Grandma’s frost-filled chest freezer for the ever-present box of Eskimo Pies. Her well-stocked pantry and doily-covered tabletops contained loads of delectable treats I was often denied at home: pastries, chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies, and delicate bowls of jellied orange sticks and other candy.
This was the 1960s, long before big-box stores came on the scene. Together Grandma and I would walk to the corner of Roscoe and Broadway, where we’d explore the wonders of Simon’s Drugstore, Heinemann’s Bakery, and Martha’s Candies.
Those childhood memories of my grandma are largely synonymous with food.
In my mind’s eye, I can still picture driving from Illinois to Wisconsin beneath a canopy of crimson leaves against an blindingly blue sky. I remember Passover dinners with a million Jewish relatives in the basement of some wizened old uncle’s apartment building.
Other childhood memories recall the mysteries of new baby brothers coming on the scene, building a hideout among the branches of a fallen tree, and giving my best friend’s parakeet a ride down the stairs in her aqua Barbie convertible.
It’s good to write down our recollections. As vivid as the moment seems at the time, memories fade. These prompts will help jog them. Invite your older children to participate. They’re in closer proximity to their memories, and can usually remember the details more vividly.
There are no rules: Jot your thoughts in snippets or write them out diary-style. Either way, do your best to recall the sensory details that made the moment important, for it’s those little things that keep the memory alive.
22 Writing Prompts That Jog Childhood Memories
- Describe one of your earliest childhood memories. How old were you? What bits and pieces can you recall?
- Who was your best childhood friend? Write about some of the fun things you used to do together.
- Can you remember your mom’s or grandmother’s kitchen? Use sight and smell words to describe it.
- Describe the mostunusual or memorable place you have lived.
- Did you have your own bedroom growing up, or did you share with a sibling? Describe your room.
- Were you shy as a child? Bossy? Obnoxious? Describe several of your childhood character traits. How did those qualities show themselves? Are you still that way today?
- What childhood memories of your mother and father do you have? Describe a couple of snapshot moments.
- Write about a holiday memory. Where did you go? What did you do? What foods do you remember?
- Describe your favorite hideaway.
- Did you attend a traditional school, or were you educated at home? Describe a school-related memory.
- Think of a time when you did something you shouldn’t have done. Describe both the incident and the feelings they created.
- Have you ever needed stitches, broken a bone, or been hospitalized? Describe a childhood injury or illness.
- Do you have quirky or interesting relatives on your family tree? Describe one or two of them.
- Describe your most memorable family vacation. Where did you go? Did something exciting or unusual happen? Did you eat new or unique foods?
- Did you grow up with family traditions? Describe one.
- Books can be childhood friends.What were some of your favorites? Why were they special?
- Describe a game or activity you used to play with a sibling.
- What were some of your favorite television shows as a child?
- What was your most beloved toy? Describe its shape, appearance, and texture. What feelings come to mind when you think of that toy?
- Think of a childhood event that made you feel anxious or scared. Describe both the event itself and the feelings it stirred up.
- Write about some sayings, expressions, or advice you heard at home when you were growing up. Who said them? What did they mean? Do you use any of those expressions today?
- What are your happiest childhood memories? Describe one event and the feelings associated with it.
What’s one of your most vivid childhood memories? Share a snippet in the comments! And if you’re looking for a resource to help you write a longer memoir or autobiography, check out Stories Kept for some excellent ideas!
Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!
Copyright 2013 © by Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
Photo: Lisa M, courtesy of Creative Commons.
Example of a Narrative essay on English about:
childhood / memories / mother / child / happiness
It is obvious that all of our childhood memories are not accidental… When you are a child ever scent, every sound, every move, every toy, the first day of school, the first kiss, the first step..Everything together makes what is the personality of a man. All these are pieces of one whole entity. I was sitting and thinking –which of the memories I have is the brightest and most emotional for me….Is it the day when I stayed home alone for the first time? Is it the day when I was so disappointed with the Christmas gift I got? Or maybe when I broke grandma’s favorite vase and put it back together with glue? I was thinking about good memories and bad memories…moments of tears and moments of innocent joy. From one memory to another my heart started to feel strange and I felt really strange – like I was in a completely another dimension which exists only in my head. And then..BANG! I got it so clear that I started shivering…
I was about 6 years. My mom’s best friend left to another town and asked my mom to stay at her place with me for two days in order to look after her two sons. One was a little older then I was, and the second boy appeared to be super grown-up for he was already fourteen. I always enjoyed staying at their place – a lot of toys, a lot of space, video games – everything a child needs to free the most sincere smile. I remember the second day we were supposed to have the com-back party for my mom’s friend at here place…I wike up..Mom went to work and reminded me to be nice and clean by the time she will come back with the guests. I stayed with Tony, the older of the boys and suddenly somebody called him and though he was not permitted to leave me alone – he left. He said he will not be long….but it took him forever…I realized that I am alone… I cannot come out of the house…so I opened the window and thought that I was joking. And I was so desperate…so lonely...so betrayed… at that moment I pulled the curtain so strongly that I fell on the floor..And there I was standing – one little criminal...Desperate to escape and knowing that I will be punished for destroying the curtain that was not even ours….
But then something changed…I stopped wining…looked around and realized that I am in a safe place… that mom will come back and kiss me no matter what I have done. This was a moment of pure happiness…not the happiness of getting a new toy…or a dog..a going to the party of your best friend..It was the moment of clarity for me...the first time in my life when I realized that I am happy to have my mom and that I am safe. My eyes saw the world in different shades that moment. And by the way – I was not punished for the curtain… I felt asleep on my mom’s knees.