Interactive Stories that Build Better Brains
by Charlie Xavier, Jill Butler, and Colin Throm
Do your children realize they have a superpower? And that with this superpower they can help save the world? Children literally can rewire their brains—a phenomenon called neuroplasticity — which gives them increased flexibility in how their brains work. This rewiring enables children to fix innate bugs in their brain software that result in common mistakes in thinking and judgment.
These thinking missteps are called cognitive biases, and they sabotage our ability to respond to global-scale problems like authoritarianism, global warming, and pandemics. Cognitive biases are deeply ingrained in our thinking processes and likely impossible to eliminate in fully-developed brains. Luckily, learning through story is just as deeply ingrained, providing a tool with which to activate our children’s neuroplasticity. Through the power of narrative we can help our children overcome these biases and make better decisions every day.
The first book in the NeuroFables: Interactive Stories that Build Better Brains series, Inclusion, takes on one of the most prevalent cognitive biases—our innate tendency to group people into either “us” or “them”—in two interactive stories that empower children to make choices for the protagonists that teach strategies and skills to overcome these tribalistic instincts and make more inclusive decisions every day. Exploring the choices across the two interactive stories helps children connect the dots between the more abstract concept of tribalism and the ways it shows up for them in everyday experiences.
Through the power of interactive allegories, we can help our children build an awareness of our innate tendency to be tribal, typical situations in which it arises, and strategies to overcome them when it does. This book will serve as a launching pad for exciting discussions with your children about how we treat out-groups and how to expand our in-groups to be more inclusive. This book will equip children with the tools they need to harness their superpowers, build better brains, and help save the world!
São Paulo, Brazil • May 2023
About the Authors
Charlie Xavier received his Ph.D. in educational neuroscience from George Mason University. He is currently a Research Scientist on the research & development team at Avenues The World School, where he works to understand the power of narrative in overcoming cognitive biases in young children.
Jill Butler is founder and president of Stuff Creators Design, an interaction design consultancy. She has over twenty-five years of experience in the areas of graphic design, information design, and typography. Jill is a co-author of Universal Principles of Design; her online courses on design and typography are available at LinkedIn Learning.
Colin Throm has been drawing since he could hold a crayon during a childhood surrounded by art and children’s literature, from Norse mythology to Dr. Seuss. His fantasy work in pencil, ink, and paint is whimsical but grounded in his science background.