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Shaping Stories

Brienna Rossiter, Focus Readers Editor

The stories we tell matter. So does the way we tell them.

As writers and teachers and librarians, we have the important job of helping young readers find the stories they need—stories that inform them, yes, but also stories that empower them, helping them realize that change is possible and they can be part of it.

With titles such as Parkland Students Challenge the National Rifle Association, our new Taking a Stand series introduces readers to a variety of people who spoke out for what they believed in.

In particular, we’ve created books like Larry Itliong Leads the Way for Farmworkers’ Rights to introduce readers to events and activists that are often overlooked.

It’s important to tell stories like this. But it’s also crucial to help readers think critically about the way we tell them. All stories make some omissions. And each story is filtered through the perspective of its writer. The facts and details this writer chooses to include can majorly shape the way readers see the whole picture.

Understanding these concepts is a key part of engaging with current issues. So, we’ve created activities that help students examine primary sources,

explore how the quotes a writer selects affect a story’s meaning,

think through why some events get more attention than others,

and take a stand on an issue themselves.

By building these skills, students gain tools to better understand the many stories swirling in the world today.

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