Guest Blog Post by Rachel, Story Intern
We’re excited to be working on our THIRD annual series of teen-authored children’s books with the writers of Reach Incorporated!
We’re half-way through our second week of workshops, and our authors have narrowed down their massive list of story ideas to begin writing four creative, thoughtful, and engaging books.
This week is all about getting words down on the page. Here’s a quick peek into the stories:
- Cabbage and Spice are two caterpillars who become friends, but are forced into different schools and lifestyles when one grows up to be a moth and the other a butterfly. In their insect world, butterflies and moths are taught to hate each other-- butterflies are “spectacular” and loved by humans, while moths are seen as pests. Will the two be able to overcome these barriers and remain friends?
An elementary school is moved to a new planet while Earth is under construction. But even their cool new home might not be enough to make up for their awful second grade teacher, Ms. Moody. The students will have to form unlikely partnerships and work together to stop Ms. Moody and salvage their second grade year-- and learn something about themselves in the process.
Max is a supervillain growing up in a supervillain family-- his mom can control fire and his dad controls the weather. He goes to school with Ronnie, the son of superheroes and a champion of goodness and justice-- and so similar in appearance to Max that they could practically be twins. What will happen when the two boys switch places?
Jasmine wants to make a difference in her community, but sometimes she feels like a little girl in a big, big world. She feels helpless in the face of the problems she sees around her, like homelessness and kids skipping school. But when she begins taking small steps to solve these problems, the impact she makes may surprise even her.
Reach teens are savvy authors who know their audience well. During the school year, these writers serve as reading tutors for elementary school students, and they’ve come up with funny, creative, and insightful concepts that they think their tutees will enjoy reading.
But these books are more than just alien teachers and kids with superpowers; like every Shout Mouse book, there’s a story behind the story.
With Cabbage and Spice, our authors tackle the danger of negative preconceptions and stereotyping. The second graders of City New York learn about the power they have to change the situations they’re in. Max and Ronnie allow us to explore the question of why people do bad things, and whether they can change. And by dealing with problems that make many kids feel helpless, Jasmine teaches us that even young children have agency. These are powerful messages, and our authors are tackling them with insight and depth-- and, of course, their own colorful imaginations and humor.
Reach authors have an important challenge ahead of them: to write books that are both entertaining for young readers but also have the potential to educate. Thus far, they’ve tackled it with grace and determination--we’re so excited to see how these new stories develop!