MAY is National Share a Story Month. I love stories, always have! As a child I used to bury myself under the bedclothes at night with a book and a torch in the (I now realise) mistaken belief that my parents were unaware. Just William stories were a favourite; dated, now and out of fashion.

Then when I became a parent and was out at work during the day, reading a story (which morphed into making up a story, with my son as the central, heroic character) became part of the bedtime ritual. After five years of the nightly ritual I was running out of ideas; fortunately my son grew out of wanting them at the same time. (Truth be told, we still miss the intimacy; even now the bedtime routine involves the same words that used to close the stories).

There is something intimate and comforting about telling a story – inviting people to enter and share your world. But stories confront as well, because someone else’s world is always different from your own. Whether it be the Hungry Caterpillar’s capacious diet, William Brown’s ill-fated adventures, or Willa’s struggle with insomnia, stories invite children to look at the world from another person’s point of view. When they do that, they compare and contrast other’s experiences with their own, they develop deeper understanding of their place in the world, the beginnings of empathy, one of the most valuable skills that they will ever learn.

When I was 12, my father showed me how to mend a puncture on my bike. I asked him if his dad had shown him. I was surprised when he told me that when he was 12 he didn’t have a father and had to learn how to mend a puncture himself. My further questioning, led to his telling me a story that shaped my thinking and the way I live my life today.

He told me about Krystallnacht, the death of his father at the hands of his neighbours, his subsequent flight from Austria on the last Kindertransport to leave Vienna and how at 12-years-old he arrived in England alone. I’d read and heard about the Holocaust; but hearing about it from someone who was there helped me understand in a way that a book never could. Small wonder that my work has been largely in organisations that help others.

The magic of story telling lies in its greatest irony; the more personal your story, the more deeply you reveal yourself when you tell it; the more it will resonate, move and change the life of the person with whom you share it. So, go on: think of a story; share it with someone; change the world.