World Book Day & Copyright Day, 23 April, 2016
On 9 October 2009, Barack Obama, newly inaugurated, walked out to the media pack in front of the lawn in the White House. He had just been named Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the world was waiting for his first comment.
Imagine my surprise when Obama opened his address by talking about…his dog.
“This is not how I expected to wake up this morning. After I received the news, Malia walked in and said ‘Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize… and it is Bo’s birthday (dog).
And then Sasha added, ‘Plus we have a three day weekend coming up.”
At this point, I was convinced that Barack Obama had lost his marbles. There he was, commenting on possibly the most prestigious win in the world, and he was talking about his dog’s birthday?
And then, he said: “So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.”
Ah. His story did have a point after all.
And that point was swiftly reported in headlines around the world – ‘I am surprised and humbled’. Obama wanted to assure critics that he knew he still had much to prove.
So what do the worlds of politics and parenting have in common?
The 44th President of the United States is an expert in using stories to invoke shared experiences with many of his constituents. As President of the United Household, you too, can use stories to nurture, manage and inspire your children.
Here are some benefits of stories for me:
- Pass on your values
- Simplify complicated concepts, ideas
- Learn language
- Manage and inspire
- Share intimacy
- Nurture creativity and imagination
Reading with or to our children is an obvious way of sharing stories. I also use movies, audio books and podcasts to encourage my kids to love stories.
James and I tell our kids stories about our childhood, our courtship, our wedding – everything! That way, the kids can imagine our lives before they were born.
So to me, smart parenting is very much smart storytelling.
Happy World Book Day 2016!