Stories that Teach

As I was going through my Twitter feed this morning, I came upon a quote by Antonia Felix.

“The best way to convince, persuade, teach and inspire is with a story.”

In my sixth grade class, I had girls in tears because of words said. I finally settled the students into their desks and I told a story of a shy, insecure sixth grade girl and how words hurt her. You could hear a pin drop in the classroom, a rarity with that group of kids. My seventh grade students were ready to start a family tree project. They could present their own family or the ‘perfect’ family, and they needed to use photos of some sort. The requirement for using clip art and other pictures from online was to site their sources. There were groans and questions of why. I told them a story, this time with pictures. I opened my file on my computer with my art. I showed them the drawings I had done, and asked how I would feel if someone else claimed those photos as their own. The story stuck; not a single person who used clip art failed to site their sources.

As I look through history, it is the storytellers who wove the morals into the fabric of society. People don’t like rules, but they love a story. So, the storyteller would create a story to give evidence to the rules. Aesop and his fables is one of the famous ones. Others line archaeology hallways. What child would listen to their parents saying, “Avoid the sneaker waves”? And yet, every one would sit and listen enthralled to the story of the beautiful Native American princess Ewanua who was warned of Seatka, the evil ocean spirit, and yet at night she wandered to play on the beach with her dog, Komax, and her cat with kittens. She did not head the warnings of her elders and was lured into the ocean. Parents then would point offshore to the princess, immortalized in stone, staring out to sea with her cat and the kittens in a basket and Komax, on low tide, sitting on shore howling to get everyone’s attention.

Legend of Face Rock
Legend of Face Rock

In modern times, stories still resonate with our hearts. As authors, our values, morals, and intents come across in what we write. Authors may say they have no intention of sharing any moral story or that their story isn’t an allegory; however, their beliefs color their writings. Take the two most well-known for the modern day high fantasy, Tolkien and Lewis. Tolkien did not want to create a Christian book; yet, his beliefs shone through his writing. Lewis, on the other hand, wanted to share in a story his beliefs. He succeeded to the point where many now just see the story and not the morals behind the story.

As I wrote the Dragon Courage series, I had my own children in mind. I wanted them to learn some lessons, but knew that the best way to do it was as author Antonia Felix said, in a story. So, I began writing. Each book has different themes that resonate with the reader. It was with great pleasure that I read the review from Sandra Stiles stating, “There are subtle lessons and themes throughout the story about friendship, trust, courage, and abuse of power.” I had fulfilled my desires. It was even more satisfying to hear that I had done it in such a way that she “read this book much slower than [she] usually read[s] because [she] wanted to savor every word and didn’t want it to end”. That was exactly what I had wanted to do.

As you finish up this summer, take some time out to curl up in your favorite reading place, whether that is under a tree, at the creek or lake, on the beach, sitting around the dinner table, or cuddled up on the couch or in your favorite reading chair, and read a new book. Dive into a different world and see if your eyes are opened to new truths.

What's your take?