I can see you now, curled up and happily reading a story in which, as always, a character is trying to solve or survive a problem. The bigger that problem, of course, the smarter the character's strategies will have to be, and the cleverer their planning, and the fresher their ideas, and the more creative their creative thinking.
How do I know? For a start, from the way you're yelling encouragement and very ingenious problem-solving suggestions at the page. Or whispering them if youâ€™re meant to have turned the light out.
There's a simple reason stories make us clever. If we read lots of them, Creative Thinking becomes our middle name.
It's the same for us writers. I'm not the smartest Anzac biscuit on the plate, but my neural pathways are a lot more lively than they would have been if I hadn't needed to help Oliver save a dog and several camels in Too Small To Fail, or explore with Jemma how her mum might be persuaded to stop picking her nose in Snot Chocolate, or try out a few ways with Matt to make new friends even when he always beats them at soccer in Extra Time, or have a think with Grace in Grace about how to spend the night in a lion enclosure at the zoo without being eaten.
Each adventure in creative thinking changes us in important and useful ways. Think I'm making this up? Put it to the test. See if you can think of 5 ways reading stories has made you one of the brightest filaments in the fridge light.
Here are some you might like to consider ...
1.Â Reading stories has shown me how information can be even more powerful than one of those bathroom cleaning products that makes your toothbrush wilt.
2.Â Reading stories has helped me understand that making mistakes doesn't have to be embarrassing and can actually be useful, as long as you make them with your clothes on.
3.Â Reading stories has taught me heaps about how the human mind works, and how what we think and feel affects what we do, and the other way around. Wow, a few more stories and I'll be a psychologist.
4.Â Reading stories has reminded me that everybody has as much going on inside them as I do. (Not talking about corpuscles or wind here). In other words, reading stories has made me smart about other people â€“ one of the smartest of all smarts
5.Â Reading stories has made me realise that we can all make a difference in our own lives. Give it a try. It can be risky and even scary, but remember how often your favourite characters have given it a go. When you have too and come through in good shape, somebody who's impressed will almost certainly say 'clever you'.