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MOWMT March 26: Beth Anderson Connects History

Endings that Resonate and Connect History to Today’s Readers

By Beth Anderson

For me, a “satisfying ending” is more than tying up the story in a neat package. My goal is to place that package in the reader’s lap. I want an idea that resonates beyond the book within self. That’s a challenge with history because kids feel far removed from events of the past. And I don’t want didactic. 

As you know, it’s hard to look at endings in isolation. They’re linked to beginnings and emerge from a thread carried through the text. When I find a book that makes history resonate meaningfully, I dig in to see how the author did it. 

Mentor Text 1 – an invitation, call to action

Along with great voice and effective transitions, this book offers a powerful ending. The question Barton asks in the title repeats several times. At first it’s a rhetorical question…

That voice. That big, bold, crisp, clear, confident voice. It caused folks to sit right up, stand up straight, and take notice. What do you do with a voice like that?

Then it guides the text as he takes the reader through Jordan’s life. As the narrative nears the end, Barton brings it close by changing the pronoun you to we, inviting readers into the story and to honor Jordon by making their own voices heard. It’s seamless. It resonates. It bridges the past to readers today with a call to act for social justice and change. 

Mentor Text 2 – reassures and inspires hope and resilience

This beautiful story starts with a Japanese-American woman feeling dehumanized in a WWII internment camp in the U.S. The narrative creatively features several key words as she tries to capture her feelings. One used several times is miraculous. At the end, she says “The miracle is in us.” Then the author brings in the reader. The story us moves out to include the reader, similar to the previous book. It encourages, comforts, and resonates with hope as we consider our own humanity and life situations.  

Mentor Text 3 – mystery

I’m a big fan of Rockliff and this book is one of my favorites. The story is bursting with life and told with a bit of humor. The end of this surprising and virtually unknown bit of history cleverly fades into the sunset by leaving the reader wondering—no doubt, with a little snicker. The idea of more unknown history out there lingers and ignites curiosity and imagination. I love that it resonates with fun in history. 

Mentor Text 4 – opens up the world

The story opens with Belpre’s love for her grandmother’s stories of her homeland and culture. When Belpre moves to the U.S., she finds only mainstream culture in the library. Pimentel shows the value of oral traditions and Belpre’s dedication to providing access and the joy of finding one’s own culture in books. The ending…

Because Pura Belpre always knew that many stories worth telling aren’t in books.

Not yet.

…opens up the story beyond the featured culture and books on library shelves. It piques a child’s interest and leaves an unspoken invitation to find or share one’s own stories hanging in the air.

Mentor Text 5 – invites and encourages questioning and joy in science

The story of Jefferson trying to prove a French scientist wrong about the degeneration of animals in the Americas essentially ends when he returns home from France with his mission incomplete. Definitely not a satisfying ending. My challenge was how to make the importance of testing truth through scientific inquiry and the joy of science resonate with kids today. 

With more research…I found a key tidbit. 

By the time Jefferson returned to the U.S., his scientific ways had taken hold in others—even kids! The bridge to today was being built. The joy of science which started the story, ends the story. But it comes with new understandings about evolving scientific truth, willingness to admit errors, and the idea that “different” doesn’t mean inferior. Basically, the ending opens the door to science and says come on in! We need your help. 

PRIZE: Winner’s choice of one of Beth’s books + a 30-minute Ask-Me-Anything.

BIO: Beth Anderson, a former educator, has always marveled at the power of books. Driven by curiosity and a love for words, she writes untold tales, hoping to inspire kids to laugh, ponder, and question. She’s the award-winning author of CLOAKED IN COURAGE, FRANZ’S PHANTASMAGORICAL MACHINE, REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT, TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE, “SMELLY” KELLY AND HIS SUPER SENSES, LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT!, and AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET. Beth has more historical picture books on the way.

Learn more about Beth and her books, and visit her blog here: 


Twitter/X: @BAndersonWriter 

IG/Threads: @BAndersonWriter 

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