Recently, I was listening to a podcast interview with a writer, and the author said to the host, “stories build connections.”

It’s true. The act of writing can feel isolating, but publishing or sharing a story means someone will potentially read or hear it. Plus, having a literary product permits a talking piece: directly through a book (or article) and indirectly via the interactions around it.

Books and Movies

Interestingly, specific stories can carry universal themes, which is why readers relate to historic, multigenerational, and culturally or ethnically diverse viewpoints. Unique perspectives enable people to both appreciate difference and find common ground.

Book recs for kids can be found at Haley’s Book Nook and Strength Through Stories. Also, be sure to find out if your local library offers story time for children.

Stephen King asked and answered, “What is writing? Writing is telepathy.” Composition allows authors to develop a conversation across time and distance. Reading thoughtfully facilitates this shared experience, thus creating a communal opportunity.

Movies serve a similar purpose. Beyond entertainment, they often give insight into life outside our homes and couch-side comfort zones. When it comes to family movie night, I appreciate recommendations from Common Sense Media.

For instance, my 10-year-old daughter and I enjoyed the feel-good flick Stargirl (based on the book by Jerry Spinelli). The coming-of-age show stars a free-spirited female, a teenager who embodies courage, creativity, compassion, and nonconformity. Spoiler alert: the movie also involves magical feelings of first love. The film provides examples of inclusivity and a scene that shows the power of upstanding. Plus, the high school-aged characters are diverse in different ways. After watching, we discussed our favorite parts.


I also like listening to podcasts. They turn my brain on in an intellectual way (especially when I’m bored with chores). Some of my favorites include: The Relatable Voice, Ojai: Talk of the Town, The Confident Healer, Soul Sessions with KK, Braver Angels, and The Bookshop Podcast.

For digital wellness, I value input from Screenagers and Your Undivided Attention. Regarding parenting resources, check out: Ask Lisa (The Psychology of Parenting) and Positive Parenting Pep Talks (with Debbie Godfrey).

I recently discovered Firehouse Roundtable (a Ventura production), Stories from the Heart (courtesy of the Camarillo Health Care District), Life Kit on NPR, and Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Thankfully, a mom friend regularly sends me podcast prompts, such as Oprah’s Super Soul, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons, and Glennon Doyle’s We Can Do Hard Things. I sometimes save these special episodes for laundry day.

A kid-friendly broadcast I’ve tabbed = Wow in the World. To view the “best of 2022” podcast picks from Common Sense Media, please click here.

Gathering Insights

When we listen to each other (in person or via podcast), we get to hear tone, inflection, emotion, nuance. And audio (vs social media) stories usually contain context. Consider smoky campfire stories or gripping tales your grandparents told you. Boo!

Traveling also supports storytelling. Wandering can widen one’s perspective. Exploration exposes us to exciting environments and regional norms. Adventures and memory making tend to lead to storytelling.

With that, on our last family road trip, my 12-year-old son and I chose two Hardy Boys mysteries on Audible. I was captivated by the alternating narrators as we drove north.

In today’s fast paced world, it’s nice to slow down and immerse yourself in a cozy story. Furthermore, face to face conversations come with a multidimensional bonus when compared to posts (which have their place in cyberspace).

Once upon a time, I got to participate in USA Today’s Storytellers Project. I was coached by an actress friend and journalists at the Ventura County Star. I met interesting people as a result of preparing to present my story on stage. “Love, Romance, and Other Disasters” took place at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club (in February of 2019), and come to find out, another teller moved here from Michigan like me! See.

The world is made up of Venn diagrams: shared spaces of relatability. Overlapping commonalities. As long as we listen. Read or watch. And connect. Because why not? The human condition is compelling!

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Tamara Miller Davis
Tamara Miller Davis is an author, mother of two kidz with Z names, pet owner, fire captain's wife, substitute teacher, parent club volunteer, dance enthusiast, and U.S. Coast Guard veteran from Michigan. Tamara published her debut book "Despite the Buzz" in 2021. The colorful novel is a cautionary tale about tech's influence. She is a member of other local writing groups: the Writers and Publishers Network and Ojai Poetry Series. Tamara enjoys reading, rollerblading, downhill skiing, boogie boarding, biking, tubing, kayaking, walking her dog, listening to podcasts, traveling, going to concerts, supporting causes, and finding common ground with a variety of people. She also likes making lists. Tamara appreciates this quote from Stephen King's memoir "On Writing": "You must not come lightly to the blank page."


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