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“We tell stories,” begins author Christian McKay Heidicker, “to entertain each other, to distract ourselves, and because we enjoy them. But I’m convinced that the best stories dig deeper – they teach us how to live in the world and help us apply meaning to the hard things we go through.”

That is how WSD’s Writer In Residence introduced his discussion with students on why monster stories are not just popular, they can also be important. It is a topic he has contemplated at length while writing Scary Stories For Young Foxes, which earned the Newbery Honor in 2020, and, Scary Stories For Young Foxes: The City, which was released in 2021.

In his most recent visit to WSD, Christian gave two separate assemblies for Middle and Lower School students. He asked questions and prompted responses to show how good stories take us on a journey that leaves us changed in some way, and that help us see the world forever differently. He helped students relate dragons, giants, and demons to their less fantastical counterparts, such as pandemics, bullies, tyrants, and health concerns.

“In monster stories we confront our fears, face impossible odds, and battle forces much bigger than ourselves. Dragons, giants, and demons represent the seemingly insurmountable forces we face – whether externally or internally. They tell us “here be dragons,” but they also tell us that dragons can be defeated.”