By Katie Smith Milway, author of the CitizenKid books One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough, and Mimi’s Village: And How Basic Healthcare Transformed It.
I love stories. As a child, they often kept me up late at night – reading by flashlight under the covers – because I would be into a book so absorbing I couldn’t bear to put it down. At age 9, it was the “Narnia” series. By 9th grade, I remember reading Gone with the Wind, and being absolutely paralyzed one day in typing class because Rhett had left Scarlett.
After college, I worked internationally as a journalist. The task of my life became capturing the stories of people’s experiences and communities.
Later, working in the field of international development, I began to see the power of story in helping to frame complex issues, and in communicating – to the developed world – the need to offer the right kind of assistance to developing nations.
I’ve learned that the best stories have staying power. They can move and motivate us, prodding us to concrete action and to make a positive difference in our world.
That’s why I write stories for CitizenKid. Today, North American children ages 4 to 12 constitute a pocket money market worth 50 billion dollars. But more than just their economic clout – children have the potential to build a better, more just future. By informing them of the needs in our world, and helping them recognize that they have the ways and means to make a difference, we equip kids to care and to come up with the creative solutions complex global issues require.
Children today have more information at their fingertips than any generation before them. Through music, the Internet, social media – and even at school – they’re confronted daily with the reality that our world is not an equitable place. Bad stuff happens. It can leave them feeling hopeless.
But provide children with the means to respond, and you build their self-esteem and give them hope.
Good stories do that for kids: they can offer readers paths into and through really difficult world issues such as poverty alleviation, global health and food security that — though complicated — don’t have to be tragic.