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Minds Made for Stories: How We Really Read and Write Informational and Persuasive Texts
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Minds Made for Stories: How We Really Read and Write Informational and Persuasive Texts

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  113 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
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 t
Paperback, 168 pages
Published August 14th 2014 by Heinemann Educational Books
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Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Newkirk argues that narrative (story) has a preeminent place in writing and speaking. We're all hardwired for it. He takes on writers of the Common Core who try to park it in the lower grades and make "argument writing" and "exposition" the key modes for high school. Both contain story, says Newkirk. He provides sundry examples, including a chapter dedicated each to science and math.

Quick read, breezy style. Contains stories, of course! Like most Newkirk books, it's not a practical, for-the-cla
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent information to help me shape my thinking and my instruction.
Brian Kelley
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Anything that equips me to be a more informed teacher, a more thoughtful and more intentional teacher, is worth the read. And more often than not, these texts come from Thomas Newkirk and an inner circle of educators and writers who cut through politics and lay the evidence and research beneath our fingertips.

As an aside, and this isn't in the book, Newkirk's insights once again makes me want to ask the Arne Duncans of the world, "Why do we continue to ignore the evidence?" Is it The Money? Can'
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing perspective on narrative and its importance is all aspects of writing and the thinking involved therein. Everything I read from Newkirk hits home with my own philosophies on teaching, learning, reading, and writing.
I'm on a story quest right now...doing a presentation about the importance of stories as nonfiction, and I found this book. Newkirk makes the point that all nonfiction is essentially narrative...story.

He takes some great swipes at CCSS and David Coleman. He shows with examples how all our nonfiction is written in time...and time involves stories. To deny that fact is to deny our own brains and the way we organize information.

I found lots of quotes:

"The hero of the story is a narrative itself...N
Sarah Zerwin
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, teaching
We are wired for narrative, even when we think we're not. They are the air we breathe.
Kevin English
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
Teachers: Read this book! This is by far one of the most thought-provoking books I've read, especially in a time where narrative is pigeonholed as a mode and not something we live by and crave.
Syd Lindblom
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The entire premise of this book is that humans process information best when it is given to us in the form of a narrative. With that sort of argument, it makes sense that this pedagogy book has wonderful structure and flow that makes it easy to read. Thomas Newkirk understands that when you read nonfiction, you are giving yourself over to the author, and he does a fantastic job of navigating his audience through his brain.

Besides the general readability of this book, it also raises crucial point
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book. It's left me much to reflect on. Even though I still have questions and find myself conflicted on some things--mainly related to CCSS--I believe Newkirk has hit upon some enduring truths about how and why we write, truths I need to incorporate into my practice in the classroom. I know that I "rely on stories not mearly for entertainment, but for explanation, meaning, self understanding. ... To deny the centrality of narrative is to deny [my] own nature."
One of the few books that have literally transformed the way I think about reading and writing. I'll come back to this resource to share Newkirk's ideas about how all good writing has a narrative arc, and to reflect on how I can continue to improve my own writing. If you are an educator in any context, you need to read this book, and soon!
Newkirk successfully argues that story is at the center of all other writing. I was looking for a few more concrete "do this" types of suggestions, but I did glean some ideas for improving my writing instruction.
K Love
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
Newkirk's treatise validated and transformed my thinking. I will consistently go to this text to inspire and create meaningful, deep thinking and learning with students.
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
By complicating and opposing the narrow conception of literacy presented by the writers of the Common Core, Thomas Newkirk has actually done them a valuable service, if they have the wisdom to listen to his important argument. Newkirk is not arguing that all student writing must be personal narration, but that the virtues of strong narrative are evident in any well-written text, regardless of its nominal category or genre. "The narrative," Newkirk argues, "is the deep structure of all good writi ...more
Ron Christiansen
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great read which helped me better articulate why and how I use narratives in the rhetorically focused comp class.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This a great read. If nothing else, it has strengthen my resolve in the way I homeschool my children: authentic writing vs. the 5-paragraph "hamburger" formula; rich, engaging literature vs. dry textbooks and boxed curriculum; learning with stories vs. stand alone facts. What I do have hard time rectifying is society's love/hate relationship with anecdotes and causation. We love/hate the stories told, but they may not always be right/wrong story. (Consider CNN vs. MSNBC vs. FOX News vs. The Dail ...more
Julianna Taylor
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the third and the best Newkirk book I've had the pleasure to read. They are always intellectual affairs—so teachers looking for lesson plan ideas will be disappointed. But the argument he makes here is sound and stimulating.

In this text, he takes old adage "show, don't tell" to a logical but radical extreme. He places Narrative at the heart (or core) of all writing (something I've always done but never could articulate like Newkirk does here)—and he takes a few valid swipes at Common Co
Jason Griffith
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Newkirk writes, "We rely on stories not merely for entertainment, but for explanation, meaning, self-understanding. We instinctively make connections of cause and effect, and always have. To deny the centrality of narrative is to deny our own nature" (146). As a teacher, when I search for "real-world" examples of texts to share with students, it's hard to find ones that fit into the narrow parameters we often assign for "school" writing. Real-world texts blend modes, and Newkirk presents a clear ...more
There are only a handful of writers who can make me think like Thomas Newkirk can make me think. I checked the "read" box on this book for the purposes of Goodreads, but that's a convenient lie because I am never done reading a book by Thomas Newkirk. I just keep going back to it, rereading, and understanding more each time. For decades now, I have struggled with the narrow genre definitions we, as teachers, assign to our writing instruction. While I understood that descriptive writing transcend ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this book-but it got really meta at times. I will try to explain; this is a short read about how all people, in all subjects, build understanding through texts- which are all basically stories because all texts happen through time. I agree - but what will this belief look like for me as a teacher and writer? Newkirk has issue with the Common Core, breakneck speed teaching, and literacy testing, and rightly so. What can I do about all of this in my classroom? Sadly, the book stopped short ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This books joins a long list of other professional development books and lectures from this school year that have turned my curriculum and pedagogical beliefs upside down. My prior teaching environment offered little room for critiquing Common Core, standards which value logic over emotion. But as I finish reading yet another stack of essays that feel like a punishment for both me and my students, I realize I'm the one to blame for that. For if I want story and passion, dedication and care from ...more
Debbie Shoulders
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must read for teachers and writers.

As humans we have always relayed information through story or as Newkirk writes, "We have 'literary minds' that respond to plot, character, and details in all kinds of writing."

Though many movements including the latest, Common Core, have tried to separate narrative writing into its own category, NewKirk contends that all writing includes those elements. It is what brings the reader in and sustains the reading.

Through anecdotal evidence, he shares how narra
Mrs.  Jones
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Minds Made for Stories is about how, despite the Common Core sway away from narrative writing, our minds are really made to understand and convey information through stories. I think this book made a lot of good points but also was a little repetitive and therefore somewhat boring. My takeaway from it was that even information and argument writing is truly story writing at heart and that writing can't be divided up into arbitrary categories. I would recommend it to anyone struggling with excludi ...more
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you teaching writing, please read this book. For those of us in the world of written composition, Newkirk reviews the power of telling a story to direct any form of non-fiction. By the end of the book, you'll be wanting to shape non-fiction essays to tell not just facts (that was never our goal) but also welding those facts to a compelling narrative. The end result? Essays that are enjoyable to grade.
Angela Harger
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love Newkirk's writing style. He invites his readers in and then challenges them by encouraging them to see familiar things in a different way. I have always felt that the human mind is specially tailored to appreciate and search for narrative, and Newkirk did a great job expanding on and giving evidence to this belief of mine.
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One book that should be read on a yearly basis by anyone interesting in having conversation about writing and reading. I suspect this text will be a yearly vigil in reminding me about the nature of narrative and the humanness of story.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wish Tom Newkirk was the a Secretary of Education or maybe a billionaire driving educational thought. I can't wait to use some of Newkirk's ideas with my students. Great book!
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Many discussion points regarding the importance of narrative reading and writing
within nonfiction text.
Melanie Smith
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
How writing is really done outside of school and how we can teach our students to really write.
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