Author Rachel Bridge on the power of stories

July 17th, 2021

By Rachel Bridge

It's no question that I am a big believer in the power of stories.  Why else would I invest my heart and time into writing one of my own?  ‘The Puzzle Of Us’ represents the fundamental value of the innate power that reading aloud to children holds. Shared stories, shared connections, shared messages.

You see, in  an age of chronic distraction and busyness, togetherness, moments of shared experiences as families, are few and far between.

As Meghan Cox Gurdon states in her wonderful and well-researched book, '‘The Enchanted Hour’; “There is a remedy to this hollowing out of households, a gentle and powerful way to revive personal contact, ward of interruptions, and strengthen relationships.  It may seem a small thing, but it is not: we can read together.”

In ‘The Enchanted Hour’, a researcher by the name of Susan Pinker explains the neurology behind the experience of reading together … “A tsunami of neurochemical benefits gets unleashed when a parent and child cuddle together over a book.  Stress and anxiety downshift, for starters.  As soon as the parent puts his or her arms around the child hormones flood their bloodstreams, relaxing them and engendering mutual trust.”

From a psychological perspective, using children’s picture books to connect is an opportunity and an art form that is being lost in a modern society so wrapped up in the attraction of devices, and distraction.  Developing and honoring a ritual between child and parent, of reading together, can break through distraction, opening up opportunities for the child to experience the four pillars of attachment … to be seen, safe, soothed and secure (Tina Payne Bryson).

From a neuropsychological perspective, sharing in a story, together, connects our brains in ways that move deeper than ever thought before.

“The act of reading together secures people to one another, creating order and connection, as if we were quilt squares tacked together with threads made of stories.  Even as a reader and listener are enjoying their bouquet of neurochemicals, their brain activity is synchronising, creating literal order and connection in a process known as neural coupling” (pg.47, The Enchanted Hour).

From a therapeutic perspective, children’s picture books offer us a gentle foundation in which to give language to the often trickier topics so needed to form conversation around with our children.

From a parents perspective, children’s books, and sharing in stories together, is a time where the world gets quite.  Parent and child, synchronise and begin to move at the same pace, delighting in, shared experiences. 

In a mission to pave a way back to connection through shared stories, to honour the importance of reading aloud to children, AND … in lead up to the release of ‘The Puzzle Of Us’, I will be sharing readings of some of my favourite children’s picture books, that carry out a therapeutic message.

I would love for you all to follow along.  To accompany the reading which will be available on IG TV, I will be writing a short blog piece, here.  The blog will lightly unpack the therapeutic intent of the story, as well as ways in which you may be able to use the book to support your child’s experiences, and deepen the connection with your child using the story.

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Tags: author, psychology, publishing

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