Editor’s Note: The Charm of a True Story

Editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello reflects on true stories about real people.

editors letter july
Steve Vaccariello for Reader’s Digest

On our last extended vacation—halfway around the world in places without televisions or cell phone coverage—my family fell into a rather interesting evening routine. Once the sun went down and the stars came out, either Steve or I would tell our nine-year-old girls one “amazing true story” from memory.

Some of our tales were dramatic, like the sinking of the Titanic. But all types held the girls’ interest. Steve mesmerized them with Michelangelo: how the artist wanted to sculpt, but the pope insisted he spend over four years painting the Sistine Chapel. Olivia was fascinated by the detail that Michelangelo almost went blind from the paint dripping into his eyes as he worked on the scaffolding, painting the ceiling.

I told “The Little Boat That Sailed Through Time”—about the endurance of a man’s toy boat, from our June issue—and “A Lost Boy Builds a Family,” about the journey of a Sudanese refugee, from May. For each, Sophia delighted in guessing the end. It surprised her both times.

What impressed my daughters most was that these were true stories about real people. Every night, they begged, “Tell one more! Please, one more!” That’s how I felt about your tales, which poured in during our 100-Word True Stories contest. We showcased the winners in last month’s issue, but we couldn’t stop there. This month, we’re starting the column “Your True Stories” in our Voices & Views section.

Do you have a story in you? Go to rd.com/stories to submit it. If we run your piece in the magazine, we’ll pay you $100.

—Liz, @LizVaccLiz@rd.com

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