Writing to Change the World

Recent­ly, Vic­ki Cobb post­ed on the I.N.K. (Inter­est­ing Non­fic­tion for Kids) blog about writ­ing to change the world. I’ve been pon­der­ing this post for days. On one hand I think all authors, espe­cial­ly those of us who right non­fic­tion for kids, are try­ing to change the world to some degree (maybe more than Vic­ki alludes, even). Yet that seems like such a lofty, overblown, and, dare I say pre­ten­tious?, goal–one that many of us would hes­i­tate to say out loud (thank you, Vic­ki!). After all, as begin­ning writ­ers we are told over and over again, “Don’t teach!” Of course, non­fic­tion by its very nature must teach. So I’ve strug­gled with bal­anc­ing my desire to teach, inspire, empow­er and yes, influ­ence young read­ers with the need to remain impar­tial and sim­ply tell the sto­ry. Not enough emo­tion and the writ­ing is dry and bor­ing. Too much pas­sion and it comes off as overzeal­ous and preachy. Strik­ing a healthy bal­ance is where the work, and the mag­ic, lies.
Today I attend­ed a writ­ing inten­sive offered by Car­men T. Bernier-Grand. One of the exer­cis­es she had us do was sim­ply to make a list of the rea­sons we we write. Here is what I wrote:
Why do I write? I write:

  • to empow­er children
  • to give kids a voice, espe­cial­ly those who haven’t yet felt heard
  • to teach
  • to help kids dis­cov­er their authen­tic selves
  • to help them hon­or and respect those authen­tic selves
  • to share what is impor­tant to me with future generations
  • to make the world a bet­ter place going forward

In short, I do write to change the world, one read­er at the time. I guess I’ll just try to keep it a secret from the kids.

    3 thoughts on “Writing to Change the World”

    1. Upon read­ing my com­ment after I post­ed it, I wor­ry that what I wrote implies I think you are sim­ply “sim­ple and sin­cere.” oops! Not what I meant. I meant your list seems very you. It also seems clear and hon­est. Any­way, what­ev­er, I’m try­ing to say I real­ly like it. thanks for posting.

    2. Love­ly post, Lau­rie. I think it is good for us — any of us, regard­less of what our pas­sion­ate task is — to reflect on the WHY of what we do.
      Have you read any Mary Pipher (Reviv­ing Ophe­lia, The Shel­ter of Each Oth­er etc.)? She has writ­ten a book called (inter­est­ing­ly enough) Writ­ing to Change the World. It is won­der­ful, and I think you might like it. Cheers!


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