Change the plot

I mentioned yesterday that I started to write a book, then my world changed and the story flipped. So that story lies waiting for me, not to rebuild it, but to create a new pathway for it – to meet new characters in the form of narratives that have touched my life, and my learning, and that have brought to the fore so many of the things I am passionate about and have come to mean so much more in our emerging worlds.

Stories – I am a child of Books by Oliver Jeffers is calling to be mentioned right now. The dedication page quotes, ‘The universe is made of stories, not atoms’ Marcel Rukeyser 1968. Even before we have language we create stories-some of the best stories are created without words, but when we give them words, they lift from our imaginations and into the lives of others. John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things, writes,

stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling, Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by torch light beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world…They could take root in the imagination and transform the reader.

Oliver Jeffers uses actual pictures of actual words to shape his story and show us the power of words and stories that take us on journeys of discovery, awe and wonder, and shape our world.

As a child of books, this is second nature to me. Words shape my thoughts, my emotions find a voice and create the stories of my feelings and needs. For children who may not yet have had the opportunity to discover this, or have their power of  language limited by inequalities, or fear, we need to consider carefully how we empower their stories and build their capacity to find their voices, to create their’ stories, and to discover their world. It is crucial we think very carefully about how we proceed.

We have lived in a world that is forever changed-we hover on the edge of a new world. Our past stories are now  bound in their volumes on the shelf but speak to us . Our children’s  pages are open and waiting to be created, in new forms. Goodness, maybe they’re not even 2D, or paper driven- this is not about rebuilding, re-creating, or filling a few empty ‘gap’ pages.Those pages are already written-we need to read them, it’s likely we’ve missed their point-they may be mis-spelt because they ran out of phonics work sheets, but I bet they are phonetically plausible in terms of their relationships, their navigation of the challenges they have faced and laced with emotions that have yet to surface in their tales.

We need to sit and read them-appreciate them and value them. These pages are not lost. They are not a deficit. They represent our children’s hopes, dreams, struggles, their triumphs, fears and frustrations.

So as we are poised with a rebuilding pen, let’s pause… let’s consider the roads less travelled that are now part of our children’s lives. What have they discovered on those paths, what did we notice when we were banished to our towers?

What can we create? What lies beyond the wildest imaginings of the old king? What will be his legacy and how will our new heroes enter this new scene? We may have written the story so far, but what can we co-create for the new world our children will own-it’s theirs, Surely we won’t confine them to the old pages, old plot lines. Let’s turn a new page, let’s explore, lets create a world of possibilities, where they feel part of the story, where they take hold of the pen with flourish and their voices shape their world.

Let’s truly build! It’s time to create a new story.

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