The Mythic Toolbox Workshop

Designed by Dr Gordillo in consultation with other members of the academic community, The Mythic Toolbox workshop is a short literary course for young readers and writers aged 13+.
The purpose of the workshop is to help young people to understand how mythic/heroic fiction can be written with purpose. The Mythic Toolbox program, including The Mythic Toolbox workshop, highlights the importance of using a literary genre that young people already embrace.

The Mythic Toolbox demonstrates how to intentionally re-frame and illuminate positive mental health messages in youth  literature. The aim is to help improve young adult’s mental health literacy. That is, their understanding of the fundamentals of story writing, what mental health is, how to improve it, when to seek help for mental health problems, and effective versus ineffective ways of coping etc. Students in the Mythic Toolbox course reflect upon the author’s intent, content and literary style, and how this relates to their own writing choices. 

Throughout The Mythic Toolbox course, students and teachers are encouraged to keep a journal of their perceptions. This is because reading and writing modalities (in the form of letter writing, drawing, doodling and journaling) are recurring themes highlighted throughout the narrative.

Such epistolary modalities have demonstrated effectiveness in coping with mental health problems. As part of the journal-keeping exercise, YA readers/writers can thus experience first-hand the modalities promoted in the narrative.


During their journal writing task, students are encouraged to ask questions such as:

  • What is my initial reaction to reading Shadows of Sylvaheim? i.e., what do I think the story is about?
  • Do I think the author managed to reframe and illuminate mental health messages in the novel? If so, which messages and how? If not, why not?
  • How do the social-emotional messages, ancient philosophy, psychology and mythology promoted in the Sylvaheim novel relate to my own life?
  • What other messages do I think the author is trying to convey? Why do I think the author selected these messages?
  • What literary devices has the author used in Shadows of Sylvaheim e.g., the Hero’s Journey format, three-act structure, archetypal characters etc? Why do I think the author used these devices? How can these devices help me in my own story writing?
  • What else have I observed in relation to the novel e.g., books that have a similar literary style, or YA fiction/fantasy fiction authors that have also written for a specific purpose?