Archive for April, 2014

Tell and Respond to Stories

April 6th, 2014
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The Power of Stories

by Terry Small

We are all soft-wired to tell and respond to stories.

Phillip Pullman said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

He’s probably right. Stories are a powerful organizing tool for your brain’s neural network. A well-told, timely story can literally reshape the brain.

Stories give people a chance, not to see who they are, but who they might become. Narrative is powerful. Stories allow our brain to see the world differently. They give us hope.  Neuroscientists are investigating the science of hope.  It turns out that a feeling of hopefulness changes your brain.

The following article excerpt by Terry Small and published in Brain Bulletin #47: The Science of Hope attests to the power of Stories.  To read the full article please visit: http://www.terrysmall.com/bb_47.asp.

The Science of Hope.

Hope is important for your brain.

Neuroscientists are investigating the science of hope. It turns out that a feeling of hopefulness changes your brain. Your brain pumps chemicals when experiencing the sensation of hope. These chemicals can block pain and accelerate healing.

Hope, which involves belief and expectation, causes the brain to release neurochemicals called endorphins and enkephalins which actually mimic the effects of morphine. The result is that the brain can overcome hurdles and move to a place of recovery. In scientific terms, hope and recovery are not causally connected, but they are correlated.

I believe hope is as vital to the brain as the oxygen we breathe.

Times are difficult these days. A feeling of hopefulness can make a real difference!

What do I do for my brain? I feed my brain stories that paint a clear picture of hope.

Stories are the #1 brain state changer on the planet! Stories do far more than entertain. Neuroscientists believe that our brains are wired for stories. Stories captivate the brain. They release emotions that are inextricably tied to those of the story’s characters. Brain scientists call this “narrative transport”.

I believe storytelling has become a casualty of our busy, hectic pace of life. Parents, leaders, teachers….everyone should tell more stories. Remember a story is not a story until it is told.

To read more about Terry Small’s work and some of the stories he finds particularly enjoyable, visit his website at: http://www.terrysmall.com/bb_47.asp.

 

 


Book reviews: Stories to make your students laugh

April 5th, 2014
Stories to make your child laugh.

Stories to make your child laugh.

This article was written by Lucinda Tooker for teachers and published in the Teacher Magazine Volume 26, Number 5, March 2014. We thought it would also be very useful for parents looking to engage their children in reading. We thank Lucinda for allowing us to post it here. DM

Stories to make your students laugh

By Lucinda Tooker

I am always looking for picture books that lend themselves to lessons relating to the 6 Pillars of Character (charactercounts.org). British children’s author Jeanne Willis and illustrator Tony Ross have teamed up for a number of suitable picture books, published by Andersen Press.

Flabby Cat and Slobby Dog are completely out of control. They are probably depressed, and their sole coping mechanism is to eat and watch TV. When they discover that everything in the house is shrinking (because of their expanding girths), they seek help from their distant cousins—the wild wolf and the cunning tiger. This book is really funny, and it gently conveys a message about the benefits of getting off the couch and leading an active lifestyle. Perfect for nutrition month in March!

Your parents would probably be relieved to read a bad report card, if the alternative was to lose you to a biker gang. So goes the premise of Big, Bad Bun, written as a letter from Fluff to his parents describing his misadventures with The Hell Bunnies. He really has only run as far as Grandma’s, where his parents pick him up after reading the bad report card Fluff tucked under his pillow. Personal accountability is discussion topic arising from this story.

When Colin Smally, the youngest of 10, heads outside for the very first time, his over-protective mother wraps him in cotton to keep him safe. But poor Cottonball Colin is not as safe as she had hoped! Still he has the time of his life, and thereafter is permitted to go out, unprotected, into the great, wide world. “Sometimes he got scared, and sometimes he got hurt. But ohhhh…it was worth it!” As with the other books, the illustrations add to the story, allowing readers to speculate about the validity of his mother’s concern.

Lucinda Tooker, teacher-librarian, Maple Ridge

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