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Diversity in our stories


(First published in our newsletter)

Have you considered the impact reading has on our brain? Research shows our brains respond to stories as if it was real life! (Contact us for our sources). This means our limbic system, neural pathways, hormones, are all engaged. We are living what we see and read. We can enter into the experience of others. We can practice our reaction to injustices, to beauty, to change. This is why stories are so powerful. It is also why it is so important to expose our Thinkers to a diversity of stories.

Why, one might ask, does diversity of stories matter? A few reasons! Let us consider just a few. Books take us to different worlds we could not imagine. They both enrich our imagination, and inform our understanding of reality. I might have, for example, heard about Pompeii, but a story would help to understand the disaster, the fear, the hope, the horror of the event. It humanises the past. It expands my capacity to empathise.

If I read stories of people from backgrounds different from mine, it helps me to also humanise those people, to understand our shared humanity, and to demystify their culture and traditions. It might help me find deeper connections with particular characters and develop respect and appreciation for others.

Diverse stories also means that diverse people will see themselves represented in these stories. It is wonderful as a young person to find a character whom you identify with - whether it is your skin colour, your use of a wheelchair, your having lost a parent... you feel that there is someone who is like you, whom you can model or reflect on. Someone who makes you feel less lonely - particularly in what can be the lonely years of puberty.

Please note, stories can be absorbed in many ways. Reading is certainly a way, but audiobooks, theatre, movies, graphic novels, are all valid and powerful means to portray stories. Also Thinkers are different, some might want to delve into as many stories as possible. Others like to slowly digest one, and maybe visit it multiple times. Engaging with stories can be a rich life altering process and, as such, we need to respect our Thinkers different needs when they encounter stories. This is not for exams, this is for life.

TMU's own book club, which has read hundreds of diverse books - looking at authors from South America, Africa, Asia, and more - is taking a pause this term due to personal reasons, but will be back soon. Meanwhile, we are starting a TMU reading recommendations list - which we will add to but which we want to crowd source as you are all soooo brilliant. Please add to it if you get a chance. The link is below.


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