The importance of stories | Nicola Adam column

I received a very worrying message from my brother recently

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 12:30 pm
The power of stories

He was very concerned, he said, because his eldest daughter and my second eldest niece had announced quite firmly that she doesn’t like reading anymore. She’s 10.

So Auntie Nic has been summoned to the rescue (over Facetime, naturally)

I was quite dumbfounded. As somebody whose entire education on the world came from the pages of fiction at around the same age, I can’t believe that somebody actually related to me by blood could make such a statement.

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But then I thought about it. As a child, I literally had nowhere else to escape but a book.

Curled up on my bed, alone with the pages, was my number one escapism.

Yes , we had a TV, but as the eldest of three and in possession of quite strict parents, my viewing was either interrupted or controlled or too young for me. So books it was.

It was within this world I learned the most. It certainly wasn’t at school where, setting aside the fact we moved around and I went to a handful up and down the country, my main focus was trying to overcome my shyness and trying to fit in.

I can assure you I learned about relationships, birds, bees and romance from the stash of Jackie Collins I snuck in my room - definitely not my parents and certainly not at school. I would literally read anything, something that boosted my vocabulary to an extent that saw teachers raising their eyebrows, before taking the credit.

Books are my world and my obsession but I realise that children today have so much more on offer. Their world is online, it is in tablet form,and so much wider and multi-layered than my childish experience.

It is hard for a child to realise that stories today all started on a page - the films, the games, the characters.

And they don’t need to share - they can take a phone to their room to escape. I get it.

But as I’ll tell my niece, without storytellers there are no stories, and without stories there are no digital worlds.

MORE: You might also enjoy: The secret joy of stationeryLove books? Join the Nicola Kristine Adam book club group on Facebook