Please join me welcoming author Tim Shoemaker to the blog today to chat about his new middle grade thriller, Easy Target, and how you can use fiction to teach truth (a topic I’m quite passionate about as well)!
GENRE: Inspirational Middle Grade Thriller
PUBLISHER: Focus on the Family
RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2021
A school project goes terribly wrong in this middle-grade thriller about ex-homeschooler and Christian teen Hudson Sutton and his experiences in his new school. When he makes two friends and attempts to take on an established hierarchy of bullying, he doesn’t realize he’s taking a risk he never expected―becoming a bully himself.
From the same author who wrote the suspenseful fiction Code of Silence series, this is a realistic look at the extent and reality of bullying, especially through social media, with a Christian protagonist who learns that relationships, bullying, and doing the right thing are a bit more complicated than he realized. It also touches on the subject of suicide.
using fiction to teach truth
by Tim Shoemaker, author of Easy Target
Sometimes the most powerful way to convey great truth—especially to our kids—is through great fiction. I’ve met countless parents at homeschool conventions on the hunt for just the right curriculum for their kids. The right worldview. Something their kids will grasp quickly. Resonate with. Ultimately parents want their kids to learn the truth and take it to heart. The thing about nonfiction—like a textbook—is that it tends to engage our kids at a “brain level.” Sometimes this type of writing never goes beyond head knowledge . . . it never plants itself in our kids’ heart.
That’s where fiction differs so drastically from nonfiction. With fiction, our kids meet characters who feel absolutely real. Characters who struggle in some way and face situations our kids can relate to. Characters with strengths, weaknesses, wants, needs, and desires that resonate with our kids. Our kids often learn best by experience, right? Once a story captivates our kids, they are experiencing the story right along with the characters. They learn from the mistakes and successes of the characters in the story. That’s huge.
Here’s the best part. When our kids read fiction, the story enters their world through their heart. Good writing that shares important truth is powerful for our kids. We don’t have to hope the truth of the story goes from their head to their heart. It’s already there.
The Power of a Story
Think about the things a great story can do for the reader.
- A story can make readers think in ways they never did before.
- A story can make readers look at others with a whole new perspective and understanding.
- A story can motivate readers to take action.
- A story can encourage readers and give them hope.
- A story can make a reader brave.
- A story can help readers grapple with hard decisions—and make the right ones.
- A story can protect readers from real dangers—and really dangerous people.
- A story can convict readers of ways they’re messing up.
- A story can introduce readers to new friends like they’ve never had before.
- A story can encourage readers to have a healthy view of themselves and others.
A story can cause readers to think, act, and change in ways they never would have if the same truth had simply been conveyed through a textbook. It may take more pages to convey truth through a story . . . but the truth goes straight to their heart . . . and sticks!
This Isn’t New Wisdom . . . but Ancient
The power of stories to shape and influence our kids . . . to convey wisdom . . . certainly is something that has been used for ages. Do you ever wonder why God uses so many stories in the Old Testament? Stories show us the experiences of others—and how things turn out for them. We don’t have to make many of the dreadful mistakes we see people make in the Bible. We can learn from their experiences.
Jesus was the king of teaching truth. Over and over we see him telling stories. He conveyed nuggets of truth in a compelling story. Did he teach straight out of the Scriptures? Absolutely. The Bible doesn’t record many of the things he taught this way, though. We’ll read a verse that tells he taught at the synagogue out of a certain text, for example, but we don’t get much detail as to what he said. But the truth he told through stories? The Gospels are loaded with them.
Jesus knew people would listen to stories. He knew they’d remember the truth embedded there. They’d take it to heart. And he knew that truth taken to heart is the first step to real, lasting change. He knew how much a story could impact a heart—for the better.
How to Convey Truth Through Fiction
Find good books for your kids. Ask for reading suggestions from other parents whose kids are bit older than yours. Check with librarians. Find books that teach good character and truth. Books that are clean, that don’t make parents and adults look like idiots, and that don’t get sloppy with bad language. They’re out there.
Read to your kids. Even if they’re solid readers, pick up a great book and read aloud to your kids. At night before bedtime always works. Or find spots with great atmosphere to read to your kids. Include a snack for them if you can. When you read a good book to your kids you connect with them in a wonderful and unique way. Don’t miss this.
Introduce them to audio books. Don’t like reading aloud—or maybe your kids struggle with reading? Pick up audio books. You can play them in the car so you can enjoy the stories with them.
Textbooks. Curriculum. Hey, nonfiction is needed. But if you really want to be sure that truth finds lodging in your kids’ heart—where it truly has the power to influence and change them in great ways? Get them a great story!
Tim Shoemaker is the award-winning author of the Code of Silence series and a popular speaker—especially for school assemblies. When he isn’t on the speaking and teaching circuit, he’s busy working with kids and writing more great stories!
He’s the author of eleven books, including Super Husband, Super Dad; Code of Silence; Back Before Dark; Below the Surface; Smashed Tomatoes, Bottle Rockets . . . and Other Outdoor Devotionals You Can Do With Your Kids; Dangerous Devotions for Guys; and more.
He speaks for schools, churches, and parachurch organizations (such as Focus on the Family, Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conferences, International Network of Children’s Ministry, and the Moody Pastors’ Conference). He also speaks at men’s retreats, women’s gatherings, couples retreats, youth worker conventions, homeschool conventions, and writers’ conventions and conducts Family Devotion Workshops all across the country.
Tyndale House is offering a print copy of Easy Target by Tim Shoemaker to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Easy Target (or buy it for a young reader) by Tim Shoemaker? What is something reading fiction has taught you?