Author Nic Stone: 'representation is our sign that we are not alone'

By Shanzay Shabi Thursday, October 26, 2023

Author and storyteller Nic Stone told the audience for this year’s Spencer G. Shaw Endowed Lecture how the stories we read shape the way we see the world, reminding us that we all have our own authentic story to share.

“Everything we do is a narrative. Everything we talk about is based on a narrative. Every idea we have about how the world should be is based on a narrative,” said Stone. 

Stone discussed her childhood love for books and her inspiration behind becoming an author during the lecture over Zoom on Oct. 19. She emphasized the power of storytelling in influencing the way we see ourselves and those around us and how she decided to take control over her own narrative. 

“As a little girl I loved books. Inside those little paper objects was another world full of adventure. It was magical to be a part of something broader than the narrow corner of the world I lived in,” she said. “But as I got older I realized that most of the books I came across were never about someone that looked like me. I never got to see myself in the position of a hero or protagonist.” 

Stone dedicates her stories to making kids feel seen and represented in the stories they read in ways she never could. She started writing in the hopes that it would allow her children to have a different experience, so they could see themselves in a positive light through the narratives they read.

“Representation matters because representation is our sign that we are not alone,” said Stone. “Had my 11-year-old self seen someone that looked like her living an adventure, she would have known she wasn’t alone.” 

Stone reminded everyone that ultimately we are all living in a collective story, emphasizing the importance of kindness and choosing our words carefully in building our shared story. 

“We truly underestimate the role and power of kindness in making the world more hospitable,” said Stone. “When we’re sharing stories we need to remind ourselves to hold space for other people, to be kind and gentle with our words. This is the beauty of being human together.”

The Spencer G. Shaw Endowed Lecture Series spotlights award-winning authors and illustrators. It honors beloved UW Information School Professor Emeritus Spencer Shaw, who was an internationally known librarian, storyteller and teacher.

In the past, the Shaw lecture has featured famed authors and illustrators including Maurice Sendak, Tom Feelings, Ashley Bryan, Margaret Mahy, Gary Soto, Laurence Yep, Theodore Taylor, Susan Cooper, Katherine Paterson, Milton Meltzer, Jerry Pinkney, Jason Reynolds and Yuyi Morales.