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Literary Spotlight: Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine

For more than 30 years, this magazine has offered young writers around the world a place to share their stories, art, ideas, and perspectives.

Skipping Stones Cover
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In 2020, Asian-American teen Miriam Awan attended the Glendale March for Black Lives in Southern California and then published “Hope in the Time of Covid-19: a Student Perspective” in the September-December issue of Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine. She writes:

“Despite the tragedy of everything happening in our country, I felt hopeful for the first time in a while, because the fight for justice and equity was ultimately a fight for the side of our common humanity.”

Skipping Stones, a monthly magazine now in its 32nd year, offers children ages 7-18 worldwide the opportunity to publish their most candid and creative reflections on society, politics, culture, and what it feels like to be a young person growing up today. Editor Arun Toké bumped his own editor’s note in the final issue of 2020 to make space for Awan’s piece. “We need youth perspectives rather than us older people telling everyone what’s happening,” he says. “In her guest editorial, Miriam talks about several issues which are totally relevant to children right now.”

Tone, editorial content of Skipping Stones

Each issue of Skipping Stones includes articles, short fiction, and poetry from around the world along with book reviews and news that appeals to both children and adults. On the magazine’s website, Toké describes what he loves to publish: “Native American folktales, photos from kids in India …. poems from students in Hawaii or Pennsylvania, letters and drawings from South African and Lithuania, cartoons from China, and more.”

Recent issues include an essay by Nana Jean, a grandmother writing about the Black Lives Matter movement, poems celebrating women, short stories, speculative writing about a world without racism, a photo essay about nature, numerous book reviews, and much more. “Skipping Stones is about becoming aware of diversity, about understanding our multicultural society. About our true, multicultural history and learning from it,” Toké says.

Contributors

Eleven-year old Lily Jessen from Maine has a piece titled “Pieces of the Past” in the January-March 2021 issue of Skipping Stones. In it, she talks about the problematic nature of history textbooks that erase, misrepresent, and/or insult marginalized groups. “She shows that Blacks have been in America perhaps even longer than the Whites,” Toké says of her essay. “And, of course, the Native Americans for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. Students yearn to know the truth. She’s asking adults to let her learn the real history of our country. That was touching to me.”

Fifteen-year-old Siddhartha Chakilam from Kerala, India, has a piece titled “Sleepy Village” in the September-December 2020 issue. It’s a lyrical description of a South Indian village at dusk. He writes:

“Old men start their way back to their homes, after an enjoyable evening of well-deserved idling under the shady, verdant leaves of the great old banyan tree. Lured by the smell of supper cooking, they toss their pungent half-burnt beedis (tobacco wrapped in a leaf) and grind them into the dry, dusty earth.”

In the same issue, Florida writer and speaker Lorena Sosa, 17, has an interview with 16-year-old Julieta Martinez, who founded the Tremendas platform to empower young women. Seventeen-year old Haitian-American writer Christine Chaperon has an essay titled “A Beautiful Culture that Shaped Me” about responding to racist comments from classmates with pride in her culture.

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Thirteen-year-old Thee Sim Ling from Singapore has an essay titled “Those Stares” in the January-March 2021 issue, inspired by her observations at a climate change rally. “She’s on the autism spectrum, and she brings up the fact that young people of all backgrounds yearn to keep the planet a livable space,” Toké explains. “At Skipping Stones, when we think about diversity, we don’t just think about racial or cultural diversity but about people who are differently abled, people who speak different languages, people who have different faith traditions and economic backgrounds.”

Advice for potential contributors

Toké encourages young writers to write about their beliefs and/or traditions or about their experiences in a particular culture or country. Descriptions of home and food are welcome, as are articles about kid-organized community projects. Children and young adults should submit a cover letter describing their cultural background and other details, which may end up in print as part of the published piece. Contributors’ guidelines ask writers to explain, “What is important to you? What are your dreams and visions for the future? What inspired you to write or create your submission?”

Toké also accepts adult nonfiction reporting on children’s involvement in social justice or ecology movements – “actions that improve the world” – as well as articles on how to boost young people’s self-awareness and self-esteem while encouraging creativity and guiding kids toward non-violence and compassion in a global society. “Our society is multicultural. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian Americans are almost 50% of the population,” Toké says. “Youth, our future citizens and leaders, need to be well-prepared for our multicultural future.”

Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine at a glance

“Art and original writings in every language and from all ages.”

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Reading period: Year-round.

Length: Prose to 1,000 words; poetry to 30 lines.

Genres: Adults – creative nonfiction and reportage; kids – poetry, short fiction, essays, art.

Contests: Kids’ haiku; Youth Honor Award.

Payment: Copies.

Submission format: Email or USPS with short bio.

Contact: Arun Toké, editor, at [email protected], P.O. Box 3939, Eugene OR 97403-0939. skippingstones.org/wp/

—Contributing Editor Melissa Hart is the author of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens (Sasquatch, 2019). Twitter/Instagram @WildMelissaHart

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