Doug's Blog

Reading Matters

Doug Wilhelm is a full-time writer and an independent publisher in Weybridge, Vemont. His 13 novels for young adults include The Revealers (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), which has been the focus of reading-and-discussion projects in well over 1,000 middle schools; its sequel, True Shoes (Long Stride Books, 2012), and Doug's newest book, The Prince of Denial (Long Stride, 2013).

Incident in a Ninth-Grade Classroom

Yesterday I was in a school in upstate New York that I visit every year — it’s a middle/high school, and in one particular period I was talking with a roomful of ninth graders about True Shoes. Those students has read The Revealers last year, as the school’s eighth graders do every fall. I introduced the sequel by describing how it grew out of many conversations I’ve had with middle schoolers, on school visits around the country — and how, in so many of those exchanges, as we discussed the cruelties that are so common in middle school, kids told me about the spreading of rumors by text message.

Sometimes when I’m talking with a group of young people, the energies in the room will swing in a particular direction. That happened here.I could feel, and partly see — I didn’t want to stop talking and stare, but I could see this happening — that a number of the kids were looking over at a group of attractive, popular-looking girls.

I talked about a school in Florida where, after a discussion of rumor-spreading by text, a boy came up to me in the cafeteria at lunchtime to say that in his school, a group of girls were sending out text messages that contained both a new rumor and the warning: “If you don’t forward this, the next one will be about you.” And by now there was no doubt: the kids in this room were focusing on that one group of girls. I didn’t look at those girls, I don’t know how they reacted. But as soon as the period ended and the class broke up, a different group of girls came right up to me. There were three of them, and they were intent. One said, “We really want to get True Shoes. Where can we get it?”

So I told them. Amazon.com or dougwilhelm.com, to get the discount. And as they left I thought, Hmmm.
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Sunday, 17 November 2019

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