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In 2013 when I arrived at the name for the Echo series of high-school English textbooks, my hope was that the books and their stories would reverberate with students throughout their lives. I put great care into researching and writing psychologically complex stories and texts to captivate young people’s imagination.

Natur och Kultur publishers imagined the books would be re-printed a few times before becoming outdated; I determined to make the books as timeless and relevant as possible.

Eight years later, the first book I wrote in the series, Echo Main Issues 5, has been re-printed half a dozen times. I’ve been using the stories and other materials in the books in the classroom ever since, and while the novelty of writing them has worn off, my students’ engagement with them has not. My students are just as interested in the characters and their lives, and find the interactive sections just as compelling.

As the books have gone back to the printers, I’ve made minor corrections. Thanks to the many teachers and students who use the books, the series is still going strong. Do you work with the books? What improvements would you like to see? Please let me know here, or by contacting me at kfrato@yahoo.com. If you have other feedback on the books, please let me know, as well.

I was contacted by my publisher a few days ago concerning a couple of short stories in interview-format about South Africa that I wrote several years ago.  The stories are included in a book for high school students, and one of the follow-up questions, which had been heavily edited by the editorial staff, now implies that the Apartheid government of South Africa had been making an honest effort to reduce crime through racial divisions.

Of course it should read that reducing crime was simply an excuse for apartheid.

The teacher in Solna, Sweden who brought this to the attention of the publisher was dismayed.  We were too –– the book Echo Main Issues 5 had been proofread by several people including myself.  Why didn’t I catch the mistake?

The publisher immediately changed the text on the web-version, wrote an apology and an explanation to the teacher who had noticed it, and posted a social-media comment.  And I called the teacher and thanked her, as well.

Lessons learned?  First, when dealing with complex issues in a very short space (apartheid in one sentence), be extra careful with the wording.  Second, pay careful attention to how editorial cuts affect the slant of the remaining text –– three historically balanced sentences were reduced to one inaccurate sentence.  Third, don’t do your proofreading under pressure (not always possible –– by the time the layout and photo editors were done with the manuscript, I had as I recall only a few days to proofread the entire book.  On top of my two teaching jobs, that meant I was proofreading late at night).