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Everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes they just need some encouragement to start the words flowing. In Adnan Salhi’s thoughtful Reading Our Lives: Writing Our True Stories, the encouragement comes in the form of other students’ stories, told in their own words. Salhi challenged his developmental writing class to write their own histories. He began by writing his own story and sharing it with them. This collection of personal narratives is powerful and affecting; many of Salhi’s students relate their experiences of war, abuse, and extreme poverty before emigrating to the United States.
While any reader would be captivated by the varied stories offered here, this text will be particularly useful for ESL and developmental students in writing and reading classes. The stories have high interest value but a fairly easy vocabulary level, so that even beginning English readers will be able to access them. The tales show students that their peers can overcome enormous challenges, providing inspiration. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this collection will demonstrate to students that they too have important stories to tell and share.