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Minds Made for Stories

How We Really Read and Write Informational and Persuasive Texts

By Thomas Newkirk

This groundbreaking book challenges the assumption that narrative is an “easy” type of writing, by inviting readers to imagine narrative as something more—as the primary way we understand our world and ourselves.  

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In this highly readable and provocative book, Thomas Newkirk explodes the long standing habit of opposing abstract argument with telling stories.  Newkirk convincingly shows that effective argument is already a kind of narrative and is deeply "entwined with narrative."

--Gerald Graff, former MLA President and author of Clueless in Academe

Narrative is regularly considered a type of writing—often an “easy” one, appropriate for early grades but giving way to argument and analysis in later grades. This groundbreaking book challenges all that. It invites readers to imagine narrative as something more—as the primary way we understand our world and ourselves.  

 “To deny the centrality of narrative is to deny our own nature,” Newkirk explains.  “We seek companionship of a narrator who maintains our attention, and perhaps affection.  We are not made for objectivity and pure abstraction—for timelessness.  We have ‘literary minds” that respond to plot, character, and details in all kind of writing.  As humans, we must tell stories.”

When we are engaged readers, we are following a story constructed by the author, regardless of  the type of writing.  To sustain a reading—in a novel, an opinion essay, or a research article— we need a “plot” that helps us comprehend  specific information,  or  experience the significance of an argument.   As Robert Frost reminds us, all good memorable writing is “dramatic.” 

Minds Made for Stories  is a needed corrective to the narrow and compartmentalized approaches often imposed on schools—approaches which are at odds with the way writing really works outside school walls.  

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