Telling Unexpected Stories
Shirin Yim Bridges, featured in our Storytellers video series, writes fascinating real stories about women throughout history who do the unexpected. Like Nur Jahan, who became ruler of India, rode elephants to war, and encouraged trade and the arts for her country. Or an ancient Greek princess, Artemisia, who grew up to become a sailor and ship’s captain. “There are lots of real princesses out there who didn’t wait for a prince,” Shirin says.
“In [ancient] China, they weren’t teaching girls how to read or write. But Ruby [from Ruby’s Wish] wanted to learn and asked her grandfather to help her. She had the temerity to dream big, and to dream of doing something that nobody else thought possible.”
From an early age, Shirin saw the possibilities in storytelling. She grew up living in countries around the world and filled notebooks with her stories. “I started writing at 7 years old, my mother collected [the notebooks], and that reinforced that what [I] had to say was important.”
Shirin credits her father for her gift of storytelling. “He always told us stories about life, about his family, and what it was like growing up in a different world during the war. I was aware that we are all the result of stories twisting together—stories from our families and our ancestors, stories that we add from our own experience, stories not yet realized but alive in our imaginations—to make the one story of who we are; to make us ourselves.”
Through her stories, like the ones in The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses, Shirin wants girls to believe their dreams are achievable and attainable. “I want to lead girls to think, to lead, to do, and to change, because I think that we can change the world!”