Framed within recent developments in genre theory, this paper examines personal storytelling as practiced by working-class children and their families. Although both working-class and middle-class children encounter versions of oral storytelling that embody a personal perspective, these versions privilege different slants on experience. Drawing on a program of research that spans several decades and two European American working-class communities, we attempt to characterize the working-class slant on its own terms, not simply as a departure from a middle-class standard. We conclude that the working-class slant encourages children to see that they have the right and resources to narrate their own experiences in self-dramatizing ways, but that the right to be heard and to have one’s point of view accepted cannot be taken for granted.

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