Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Oct 13, 2020

Storytelling School with The Moth: Weekly Storytelling Activity #30

by Moth EDU

Lesson #30: CONTEXT: "Secret Daughter"- June Cross

Good to see you again - it’s Storytelling School with The Moth! We hope you continue to enjoy, learn, and connect with each other through this series. For this month’s blog, we’re taking a look at a story about accepting all parts of your identity.

This week’s Storytelling School story is:

“Secret Daughter” by June Cross

Read the transcript of June’s story.

After you’ve watched and read the story, you can do the following activities:

Talk to each other about June’s story.

For each post, we’ll highlight a different crafting strategy for how to make your story compelling. For this post, we’ll focus on CONTEXT. To understand the stakes* of a story, sometimes we need the storyteller to not only provide some information about their personal life, but also about the world at large.  June does this beautifully by telling us about her family relationships within the context of growing up as a biracial young girl in the 50’s and 60’s civil rights era.

  • This story spans several years. How does June convey the passage of time?
  • How does it contribute to our understanding of June to know that she worked with the Black Panthers free breakfast program? 
  • What other details does June include about the setting and time period that enhance the story? 
  • Given all the context that June provides, are you interested to learn more about the civil rights movement?

*See previous posts highlighting STAKES for different story examples here and here.

Write or tell your own story.

At The Moth, we believe in celebrating the diversity and commonality of human experience. Often, listening to someone’s story will remind us of a story from our own lives. While you almost definitely have not had June’s exact experience, it still may have reminded you of a story from your own life. Get inspired by these prompt questions to tell your own story!

  • Tell us about a time you had a secret

  • Tell us about a time you sought fame

  • Tell us about a time you felt like you were living two lives

  • Tell us about a time you slipped up

  • Tell us about a time were so elated you danced around the house

  • Tell us about a time you chose your side

  • Tell us about a time you set your own terms

  • Tell us about a time used laughter to get out of a situation

  • Tell us about a time you felt like a song was meant for you

  • Tell us about a time you walked the line


  • Have you ever been conflicted about liking something that you feel like you shouldn’t? What did you do about it? How can you honor all parts of yourself and your identity, without shame?

    • Read about how “guilty pleasures” shouldn’t make you feel guilty (and are actually good for you!) in this New York Times article.

  • Do you have a secret you want to share with someone? In this activity, you can write a secret message and then reveal it, using paper, crayons, and watercolor paint!

    • Watch how to do the activity here, from Janine Halloran, LMHC.

Share this post with a friend!

And check back the second Tuesday of next month for another story.

Storyteller bio

June Cross is a professor at Columbia Journalism School, a documentary filmmaker, and the author of the memoir Secret Daughter: A Mixed Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away.

The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators to build community through storytelling workshops, performances and innovative resources. To learn more, visit themoth.org/education

The Moth Education Program is made possible by generous support from The Kresge Foundation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, and Alice Gottesman. 

Additional program support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York State Council on the Arts, ConEdison, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.