The power of stories: Chris Callaghan

The power of stories: Chris Callaghan


Stories have always been important to us. 

Cave paintings depicting a hunting expedition, epic battles passed down by word of mouth, stage plays that dramatise the human condition, the printing press making books and newspapers accessible to all, moving pictures on cinema and television screens. Methods of telling tales may have adapted over time, but the power of stories has always been constant. 


There is an intrinsic curiosity in us all. If someone says,  

“A funny thing happened to me this morning,” it’s going to take an especially distracted person to not ask with a smile, 


We all want to know what happens next. We can’t help it. 


Reading and writing is a fundamental part of teaching and learning, where the stories explored in schools primarily come from books.  However, some children don’t engage with books, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t engage with stories. They may love stories but find them elsewhere. Books can be a slow way to access a story, when the child wants the story NOW! 


As a youngster, I didn’t enjoy books. I found them dull and hard work. My parents were not readers, and we had no money, so I grew up in a largely bookless home. It always seemed as if it were the clever and wealthier children who read books. The books we did read at school were full of posh kids doing posh things. They didn’t relate to me at all. Therefore, it was evident that books were for other people. 


But I’ve always LOVED stories and these stories have shaped the person I am. 


When I was about seven or eight, I was allowed to stay up late with my dad and watch the 1960 film version of ‘The Time Machine’. It was already something special to be up after bedtime, but the film itself blew my mind. The time travel, the Morlocks, the ending! What happened to him? What happened to her? What happened next? I barely slept that night. My imagination was in overdrive and my world was never the same again.  

Similarly, some may be familiar with the classic movie, ‘Cool Hand Luke’. Most will remember the boiled-egg-eating scene, but for me it was when the brutish George Kennedy challenged the skinny Paul Newman to a fist fight. No matter how many times ‘Luke’ was knocked to the ground, even though he had no strength left and nothing to fight with, he kept getting back up. I grew up in a deprived area in the 1970s, where getting a kicking from the local punks was a common occurrence. After that film, this skinny lad with no strength and nothing to fight with kept getting back up. In later life, it still resonates. We all know that feeling of life bashing us down, but Cool Hand Luke has always made sure I got back up. 

Stories have that power. 


Even though I didn’t read books I’ve always written stories. I created my own episodes of ‘Danger Mouse’ and ‘Last of the Summer wine’ (I’ve never claimed to be one of the cool kids!). I wrote them because I wanted more stories. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I became a reader, and later still as a dad that I discovered the immense wonder and sheer joy of children’s books. Stories that I missed as a child because I thought that books were for other people. I now know that books are for everyone. They don’t have to be instead of the stories we love elsewhere, but in addition 


There will be plenty of children just like me. Children that can read but choose not to read. We need to celebrate all stories in all forms. Talk about and show clips of the stories on TV and film, the stories that happen in sport, the stories that happen to us every day - “A funny thing happened to me at lunchtime.” 

It is also important to talk about why they mean something to us. 


Storytime doesn’t always have to be a story from a book. But when it does, choosing one can be dependent on what has excited or interested the children from previous discussions. There are a multitude of books on all subjects that jump immediately into the action with massive ideas to grab the imaginations of eager story monsters. 

Before reading the first page, crank up the tension. Children’s books have vibrant covers and carefully worded blurbs. Use them to generate intrigue. 


Encouraging an enthusiasm for all kinds of stories in the classroom will show that books are not something separate from the things they love, but just another way to enjoy them. 

Feed those imaginations and that natural curiosity. 

We all want to know what happens next! 


Chris Callaghan is an Award-Winning and Amazon No.1 Best Selling Children's Author.

Prior to becoming an author, Chris was a very serious Environmental Scientist and also a Fighter Aircraft Engineer in the Royal Air Force. But he always found time to scribble silly stories!

Chris is very happy to interact on Twitter & Instagram @callaghansstuff or find out more about his general goings on at

Chris enjoys listening to music, eating wine gums and being the coolest guy in the world. He also enjoys writing his own online bios in the 3rd person.