Monday, November 14, 2016

Tell Me a Story

Wasn’t April’s celebration of Molly Ivins just glorious and inspirational? 

Now more than ever, our stories are important. We are all stories in the end, Doctor Who reminds us. We just need to make it a good one. (Disclaimer: I was a geek before geek was cool).

Stories reveal our character, and give meaning to our lives. We are the product of all the stories we have ever heard and lived. Every dynamic character we've  met along the way became intrinsic to our story. Every plot a revelation to our journey.

Just make sure it’s a good story. Stories show us the way to be more than what we were. Stories fill us with impossible imaginations, change and hope.

But don’t we know, now more than ever, not every story gets told. This is true of historical stories, too. History is more than a lineal progression of events. It’s the people and their dreams and their choices. There is power in those stories. How they are told, and how many are told, even who tells them, all can warp the narrative. Such power ultimately defines the character. And in a timey wimey, wibbly wobbly way, it influences the event itself. It can reduce that character to a mere caricature.  It can render the event to an insignificant line in a textbook.

 But our history is full of amazing stories, stories that should not be forgotten. Historical fiction helps young readers develop a feeling for a living past, and reinforce the continuity of life. It can enlarge their understanding of the human experience. It can teach them empathy for those not of their community.

Historical fiction, at its best, can help us make sense of the present.

 This week of Thanks-Giving, I celebrate the work of Monica Kulling, whose career has spanned over two decades. Focusing on stories for young readers, she’s produced a treasure trove of good stories of people who were considered the outsider. The Immigrant. The Freed Slave. The Woman. The Artist. And her poetic narrative reveals and expands their experience. Her characters – Margaret Knight, Lillian Gilbreth, Alice Babette, Mother Jones, Garrett Morgan, Elijah McCoy, to name a few—are the unconventional heroes of their time.

Such characters show us how we can be heroes, too, even when our voices are small, and frightened, and unheard.

Some of my favorite books written by Monica Kulling

Tell me a story

In this century,

    of moment,

    of mania,

Tell me a story.

Make it a story of

     great distances,

     and starlight.

The name of our

     story will be Time.

But you must not

     pronounce its name.

Tell me a story

     of deep delight.

Robert Penn Warren)

Thank you to the storytellers for reminding us, we are better and braver and smarter than we think we are.  Thank you for reminding us to live our story.  And to just make sure it’s a good one.

Speaking of good stories, this is the last day you can enter our giveaway. For the love of Toby,   Enter to win a copy of TOBY by Hazel Mitchell!

Bobbi Miller


Laurie J. Edwards said...

This is a great reminder of the importance of history. And, though it's hard to imagine, the events taking place now will someday all be history.

Rebecca C said...

This is such an important way of keeping our history alive--through fiction for young people. I look forward to reading some of Monica's books.