Since we launched the six-word memoir challenge on SMITH in late 2006 and then published a book of our favorites, we’ve seen amazing things happen that, literally, were not quite what we were planning. From a reverend in North Carolina who preached six-word prayers to a midwestern book blogger who created a six-word memoir “meme” that still races across hundreds of thousands of personal blogs, six-word memoirs have taken on a life beyond our wildest expectations.

But nothing has been as inspiring as the stories of six-word memoirs being taught in classrooms around the world. And it’s one thing to get an email from a high school teacher in Ohio; it’s another to head to school yourself. This spring, my nephews invited me to come speak to a couple of their classes. I spent the day back in my South Jersey hometown, walking the same halls from three decades ago, and talking to a shockingly attentive bunch of kids about why storytelling is awesome. I was reminded that teaching is really tough—and just why people do it. I saw that six graders are intense and intelligent little beasts, and that third graders are simply brilliant (“Always in trouble, not really troubled”—and this from an eight-year-old boy on the spot). Click below for a book that emerged from my nephew Noah’s classroom. There’s nothing I cherish more in this wonderful world of six.
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