It hit me 4 years ago when I was working with a new student. She couldn't for the life of her remember who characters were, what events were, etc, but as soon as I did something funny with each one - WAM! - she got it. It worked!!! So, I made these "funnies" part of my every day lessons. I made them real for her.
Title - "what the story is called"
Author - "writes the story"
Illustrator - "colors or paints the pictures"
Characters - "the people or animals we meet in the story"
Setting - "where they go"
Events - "things that happen in the story" (Yes, you have to shake it!)
Try it sometime - make it funny and real!! I bet they remember. :)