An Unforgettable Book Raises Questions

A good book fills a reader’s time.

A great book fills a reader’s mind.

An unforgettable book raises questions.

I’ve noticed this in other forms of media, too. Television shows and movies that raise questions are more memorable.

This makes sense. The brain is uncomfortable with unanswered questions, and it will pursue answers long after the credits have rolled or the final page has been turned. Each time the mind chases answers, it rethinks the source of the question, deepening memories of stories in the process.

Such unforgettable books come from skilled writers, such as Margaret Peterson Haddix.

What if you were convinced the government was wrong, but you were forced to stay in hiding? Haddix introduces this question in Among the Hidden and develops and deepens its significance in the rest of the Shadow Children books. Though Haddix poses the question in the context of future societies, its answers and their implications are not foreign to today’s world.

Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson HaddixWhat would living in the past—literally—mean? And if the past was all you knew, how would you respond when thrust into the modern world? Great questions, and ones that Haddix explores in Running Out of Time.

If history could be changed to save lives, should it be? Haddix introduces this question with one of children’s literature’s most remarkable opening scenes: a plane lands, seemingly without a pilot, and its seats are loaded with infants. From this point in Found, Haddix explores the question with an extensive literary roller coaster that culminates in the final book of The Missing series, Redeemed.

The Missing Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

If the world you know was flipped so that values were reversed, how and where would you find your place? Haddix forces the protagonist of Game Changer to explore that question.

Haddix seems driven by questions.

What if the place you make your temporary home is neither yours nor home? House on the Gulf.

When it comes to war, does the truth set you free? The Always War.

And most recently: What happens when individuals discover the world they know is not reality, and that realization places them in a world-changing position? Under Their Skin.

Memorable stories raise questions, spark thinking, and yes, even change lives. Margaret Peterson Haddix writes books that hold and convey that much power.

Kevin D. Washburn, Ed.D. fondly recalls daily read-aloud time with his fourth-grade students. Enraptured by brilliantly-crafted writing—which often posed more questions than answered—those students tell him now (more than 25 years later) that reading experience is a favorite grade-school memory. Dr. Washburn is Executive Director of Clerestory Learning.


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