One Writer’s Journey

June 2, 2014

Don’t Preach, Just Tell a Story: Lessons from my April and May Reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:47 am
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How do you give your readers a powerful message without preaching?  You tell them a story with the message at it’s heart and there are authors on my latest reading list that did an astonishing job at this.

In The Sandwich Swap (Disney/Hyperion), Queen Rania al Abdullah and Kelly DiPucchio tell a story about prejudice without ever using that word.  Instead, the present the reader with a story about two girls who are best school friends until preconceptions about food get in the way.

Christine Ieronimo tells about one girl’s adoption and how a lack of fresh water in her home village led to the need.  The title, A Thirst for Home (Walker), made me think that the book would be about wells and fresh water and social justice.  It was all there but it was lurking in the background.

The New Girl and Me  (Richard Jackson Book/Atheneum) by Jacqui Robbins is a story all about bullying but, like The Sandwich Swap, that all important word is never uttered.  Not once.  But the story still shows how one kind word can turn a bad situation around.

There is nothing wrong with telling a story that includes a strong message.  Young readers need these messages.  What they don’t need is to be preached at or talked down to and you can avoid it by simply telling the story.  Give them characters to care about, kids much like themselves who are struggling to make the right choices.  And then let them draw the conclusions for themselves.  You’ll be amazed at how often they get there with just a little subtle help from you.  No neon lights required.

A Thirst for Home : A Story of Water Across the World by Christine Ieronimo (2014, Hardcover) ImageI’m sure there was more to my April and May reading than this but this is all I recorded.  In part, that is because I was reading for my work-for-hire project, lots and lots on the Maya.  Many of these books, I only read in part because they were adult and academic.  If I don’t read the whole book, I don’t add it to the list.  Anyway, here’s what I have.

  1.  Admirand, C.H.  One Day in Apple Grove (Sourcebooks)
  2. al Abdullah, Queen Rania with Kelly DiPucchio, The Sandwich Swap (Disney/Hyperion)
  3. Barnett, Mac. Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem (Disney/Hyperion)
  4. Barr, Nevada.  A Superior Death (An Anna Pigeon Mystery)
  5. Berger, Lee. R. and Marc Aronson. The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, A Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins (National Geographic Press)
  6. Daly, Cathleen, Prudence Wants a Pet (A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press)
  7. Daywalt, Drew, The Day the Crayons Quit (Philomel Books)
  8. Haber, Tiffany Strelitz.  The Monster Who Lost His Mean (Henry Holt and Company)
  9. Jacqui RobbinsHarrison, Hannah.  Extraordinary Jane (Dial)
  10. Ieronimo, Christine. A Thirst for Home (Walker)
  11. Levchuck, Caroline M. Kids During the Time of the Maya (PowerKids Press)
  12. Newman, Leslea.  October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (Candlewick Press)
  13. Omololu, C.J. Dirty Little Secrets (Walker)
  14. Polacco, Patricia. Clara and Davie (Scholastic Press)
  15. Robbins, Jacqui.  The New Girl and Me  (Richard Jackson Book/Atheneum)
  16. Rusch, Elizabeth.  A Day with No Crayons (Rising Moon)
  17. Warren, Susan May.  It Had to Be You (Tyndale House)
  18. Webb, Wendy.  The Vanishing (Hyperion)

–SueBE

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