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New Day, New Year, New Stories

An Expose by Dagne Furth ~

I distinctly remember the moment I fell in love with reading.

I was criss cross applesauce on the carpet in first grade, painstakingly recounting Jane’s latest saga regarding the elusive red ball. The narrative was simple and surely meant to instill confidence, vocabulary fluency, and all the things. But Jane, though a kindred spirit in imaginative play and distractibility, was getting on my nerves. She couldn’t keep track of her ball to save her life and spent most of the storyline not really looking for it.

“See Jane run, see Jane hide, see Jane’s ball roll down the hill” … again. Sigh.

Sitting on the rainbow reading carpet alongside my peers that afternoon, I begrudgingly recited Jane’s epic.

“Darn it Jane, go get your ball and race back up the hill so we can move on already! Gosh!” I blurted.

My buddy looked up from his “life of a duck” expose and whispered, “Dagne, what are you doing? Who are you talking to?”

“This silly book I said, I’m bored! Give me your book now, I’m dying!”

“No way!” Said Robert as he quickly recoiled and pinched the pages of his early duck reader like a lottery ticket.

And so, it went. Unlike Jane, I was an incredibly bossy, self-entitled, and determined visionary. Robert on the other hand, didn’t like to make waves and was unassumingly smart. Sensing the tedium that ensued by way of the red ball’s unsplashy cover, he wanted nothing to do with it and refused the bait.

As I scoffed at Robert, I suddenly realized two things. 1. I COULD FINALLY READ and ditch Jane and her rolling red ball forever. 2. I should probably be nicer to everyone, even Robert.

In my acute frustration, an epiphany was born and thereby an invitation to explore worlds upon worlds of wondrous storied pages. I will never forget that excitement, the premonition that I would never be bored again, and the way I couldn’t seem to muster an apology to Robert. Or swallow my pride.

Now, decades later, in many ways, I am still that same kid. Gloriously impatient, headstrong, curious, and ever so passionate. I love stories and more than that, I love to see kids’ imaginations spill onto the page as they try their hand at their own narratives and experiment.

Having experienced more of our world, both domestically and abroad, I also understand that service, giving back, and rolling up our sleeves in the spirit of advocacy are things we too, must hold dear.

For me, for my students, it can’t just be about the stories. It must also be about how we can leverage storytelling to impact the greater good and put skin in the game.

As we usher in 2023, millions of children are still being trafficked, are unable to receive an education, are struggling to attain basic literacy, are going without proper healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and that’s just the beginning. We also know that girls and young women continue to be disproportionately affected in these areas and are in the fight of their lives. In 2023. Still. Additionally, there is no denying that our world is heating up, both literally and symbolically. And so, for too many reasons to count, we can no longer operate as we have done before.

We cannot live and work in silos, we must band together.

Dear Tariq

So, while we hope that Dear Tariq, New Day’s first prototype resonates with you as an inspiring narrative, or that folks appreciate the scope and sequence of these students’ work, what we really want to do is convince you. We want you to understand that when students are encouraged to collaboratively leverage their skills, talents, and passions, they can create incredibly meaningful stories that inspire unique agency.

It would be amazing if more publishing, educational, and service industries- the very fields seeking to empower, equip, serve, and entertain youth, would appoint them as valued stakeholders and encourage them to effectively speak into creative processes.

Here at ‘New Day’, you can count on our commitment to modeling this growth mindset.

We are going to start by designing student collaborative storytelling advocacy endeavors with kindred changemakers and organizations who not only offer these inspiring opportunities to kids but also involve them in this generative work.

. . .

Now back to Robert and the rainbow rug.

Later in the spring of first grade, I was complaining about a book during recess, and sharp as a tack Robert retorted, “if you don’t like the stories you’re reading, then why don’t you just write your own?”

Robert didn’t take guff from anybody, most certainly me. Needless to say, I am ready to accept this challenge and invite you to join me on this journey!

New Day Storytelling Advocates is a generative effort, meant to intentionally nurture our raw creative selves, while inviting ALL STUDENTS to create, engage, and advocate in their own unique and transcendent ways.

It is my hope that you will desire to become a part of our family, and embrace vulnerability, risk-taking, courage, and conviction like never before! The New Day BLOG is a perfect place to tease out your ideas, share your voice, and build an authentic community. So whatever kind of artistry you love, consider sharing it here, and let’s see what kind of inspiring ripple effect we can create together. EVERYONE IS WELCOME.

Happy Advocating!

With gratitude,


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