Truths and Lies by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson
Many people have been surprised to learn that when we first conceived of the idea that eventually became Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! in 2013, we weren’t thinking at all about information literacy. We just thought the world was an endlessly fascinating–and sometimes hard to believe–place. As we started collecting ideas for stories to include in the book, we both began paying closer attention to the wacky “news” stories coming through on our social media feeds. We chased down some that we thought were true only to discover they were cleverly designed hoaxes. We followed others that seemed impossible, only to learn that they were actually true. When we saw how hard it could sometimes be, even for us, to tell the difference, we knew we had to expand our original goal to also give kids (and teachers) some tools for navigating this new world we live in. We started adding some critical thinking elements as well as a research guide to help readers embark on their own quests for the truth within, and beyond, the book itself.
Then came the presidential campaign, the election, and its aftermath, with new terms like alternative facts, post-truth era, and fake news. Suddenly our hopefully entertaining and useful book took on a whole new relevance. No matter which side of the political spectrum one was on, everyone was convinced that those on the other side were telling lies–and falling for them. It felt more important than ever to question everything we read, fact-check it against multiple sources, and learn how to determine which of those sources we could trust. For many of us, this felt like a new and scary world that we weren’t sure how to navigate ourselves, let alone teach young people how to handle it.
The truth is (if you can believe us!) that the world has changed in important ways due to the internet and social media. Information travels more quickly and more easily to more places, and that has impacted how the news is generated as well as how it is consumed. Of course, it’s also true that it has always been up to readers to assess the truthfulness of what they read. It has always been necessary to question the trustworthiness of the authors and the publishers who produce those works. It has always been necessary to conduct sound, thorough research to find answers to questions. So, while it many ways it is a new a scary world out there, the ways in which we deal with it are still the same.
And the good news? You already know how to do that.
Librarians and teachers have always taught the very skills necessary to get to the truth: critical thinking, research, and information literacy. Perhaps these skills have risen in importance in recent years. Perhaps the tools and strategies for teaching them have changed. But the objectives and core concepts remain exactly the same. Keep teaching students to question, to find answers to those questions, and then to question the answers that they find. One of my favorite lines from the book is “When it comes to information—and life, really—asking good questions is a kind of superpower.” We believe that, and we want kids to believe that, too.
In our book, we indicate which stories are the “lies” and which are true. Yet even in that context, we explain that most of our fake stories contain at least partial truths, and we admit that we could have made errors in the stories we intended to be completely true. In this way, the book mirrors real life: truth can be complicated. And perhaps that is the most important lesson of all.
But you already knew that, didn’t you?
TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE!
By Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie A. Thompson
Publication Date June 27, 2017
Ammi-Joan Paquette has traveled to twenty-four countries, has the ability to wake herself up at a given time without an alarm clock, and once climbed Mt. Everest. (Not all of these are true!) Joan is the author of the novels Rules for Ghosting, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl, as well as the picture books Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo, Ghost in the House, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids, and The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies. She lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing and her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at www.ajpaquette.com.
Laurie Ann Thompson has ridden a pig, gotten stuck in an elevator overnight, and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. (One of these facts is not true; can you guess which?) She is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, My Dog Is the Best, and Emmanuel’s Dream, a picture book biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book, a CCBC Choice, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, among dozens of other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family. You can visit her online at www.lauriethompson.com.