From cave paintings to computer games, stories have been around as long as we have. Like blushing and licking the icing off cupcakes, they’re what humans do. The benefits of creating and sharing stories are many and marvellous.
Here are a few:
Stories aren’t right or wrong
They just are. What happened to you or me, to Abraham Lincoln or Charlie Bucket, happened. Whether real or fictional, stories carry a perspective, truth and validity of their own.
Every story is uniquely told
Whether inventing or recounting a story, every narrator adds something new: something of their own voice.
“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.” – Doris Lessing
Stories build empathy
Stepping creatively into a character’s shoes brings understanding and compassion. It makes us kinder, gentler, more accepting and inclusive.
“Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart grow bigger.” –Ben Okri
They break down prejudice
How can we judge someone accurately without knowing every hurt and hardship they’ve faced? Stories make us stop, swallow, grab a mirror and wonder.
“Hate was just a failure of imagination.” – Graham Greene
They find common ground
A Mongolian emperor denies his mortality (The Golden Pitcher).
A woman in ancient Greece can’t resist temptation (Pandora’s Box).
Love is forbidden between two Maoris because of their different social rank (Hinemoa and Tutanekai).
Themes, desires and dilemmas span continents and centuries through stories. They celebrate diversity while proving time and again that what we share as humans far outweighs our differences.
“You can’t hate someone whose story you know.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
They explore conflict safely
We can fight the Balrog from our armchairs without falling into the depths of Moria (The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien). We can chase Ahab’s whale without drowning (Moby Dick by Herman Melville). We can outwit Miss Trunchbull without enduring the choky (Matilda by Roald Dahl). You get the idea.
They build courage, self-esteem and resilience
If David could kill Goliath; if Scheherezade could survive by storytelling; if Stanley could dig holes in the desert …. so can we.
“Stories are for humans like water is for fish.”
They equip us for living
Great stories inspire laughter, tears, compassion, fear, anger, hope and all the other emotions that colour our days.
And that’s just a start. They build literacy, knowledge and confidence. They bring comfort and challenge. They heal hearts and bend minds; trick us and treat us; answer one question and raise ten more. We speak and sing them, draw and dance them, live and breathe them.
Contact Debbie Thomas
I’d love to hear from you. Contact me and I’ll get back to you. If you’re into crazy wigs, shrunken heads or creating stories from giant slippers, I’d love to come to your school or library for an hour of sensible nonsense. If you love creative writing, developing your own stories and conjuring heroes, villains and any number of sidekicks, I’d love to help out. And if you’re into nothing at all except missing an hour of geography, you know where to find me…