By: Allison Friedman
At Storyworks magazine, we spend a lot of our time hunting for truly fascinating narrative nonfiction stories. Whether about natural disasters, important historical events, or inspiring real-life heroes, these stories must thrill and engage upper-elementary students, pulling them in from the very first sentence and holding them spellbound until the last. As you can imagine, finding such stories is no small feat!
But our latest narrative nonfiction story actually found us.
Last August, Storyworks editor-in-chief Lauren Tarshis received an email from Margaret Boudreaux, a fifth grade teacher at Episcopal School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who uses Storyworks in her classroom. Southern Louisiana had just been hit by a devastating flood. It was the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy. Margaret wrote:
“We have just suffered a great flood, a thousand-year flood. Much of our school was damaged, and many students and teachers lost their homes. This disaster brought out the good in people. People rushed to help each other. My students and I invite you to visit us, to meet boys and girls who can tell you this story firsthand.”
Lauren accepted the invitation, and the experiences Margaret and her students shared with her became our deeply moving September 2017 nonfiction feature, “Our World Turned to Water.” It’s the story of a terrible disaster, but also the awe-inspiring ways in which a school community responded to that disaster. Students, teachers, and parents rescued one another from flooded streets, helped repair ruined homes, and banded together for emotional support. Despite being about a harrowing natural disaster, the article is one of the most uplifting and life-affirming we’ve ever featured.
To complement this incredible story, we’ve created a behind-the-scenes video that brings readers to Baton Rouge and introduces them to this remarkable group of students and teachers:
“Our World Turned to Water” is just one of the many rich articles that will be featured this year in Storyworks, an acclaimed national language arts classroom magazine for students in grades 4–6. Every issue features content across various genres, and comes with an array of multimedia support materials including step-by-step lesson plans, powerful online differentiation tools, dozens of skill-building activities, and more. You can learn more about Storyworks and read articles from the September 2017 issue, including “Our World Turned to Water,” online here.