Middle School Writer's Symposium

Writer's workshop

This week, Overlake hosted visiting author Maggie Tokuda-Hall as she came to speak to the Middle School and work with the 5th and 6th grade students. She spent two days working with each English class as she taught them about Character Driven Plot, an approach that focuses on the motivations and choices of the characters rather than external action to drive the story forward. She used several Disney stories familiar to students to illustrate this literary style and eventually asked students to outline a story with a Character Driven Plot. Students were pushed to think beyond their initial ideas to determine why their characters might make the choices they do and how that would influence the plot of their stories. 

This led her to talk more about her book, Love in the Library, inspired by the true story of how her grandparents met in the Japanese incarceration camp of Minidoka during World War II. Tokuda-Hall also had the chance to present to the whole Middle School during an assembly where she read her book Love in the Library aloud to the students and went on to share more about the historical context of the story. 

As she shared more about the events that led to the wrongful imprisonment of Japanese during that time, she also pointed out that incidents like this are not isolated. Despite efforts by the US government to provide restitution to families after the fact, things like Jim Crow segregation happened after the Japanese were imprisoned illustrating that, “what happened to my grandparents isn’t an isolated incident and is on a continuum of events,” she says. 

One of Tokuda-Hall’s passions is standing up against book bans. She helped students understand what book bans are and how they can fight against them. She encouraged students to read banned books and support their local libraries in the community and at their school. She even noted that some of her own books, including  Love in the Library are currently banned in some countries. 

You can read more about Tokuda-Hall and read more of her work here