I Secretly Read Children’s Books #5 #cong23 #reality


Children seem to know the difference between reality and real life even though they spend a lot of their lives playing and living in their imagined life.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Not to forget to learn from the past and how can society benefit from it.
  2. Getting in touch with our inner child can still support us in many ways.
  3. How apt the lyrics for” Video Killed the Video Star” 44 years later.
  4. Not to diminish children early in their life, to help them retain skills they have already learned?

About Geraldine O'Brien:

Interior Architect and grandmother still seeking new ways to use my experience.

Contacting Geraldine O'Brien:

You can contact Geraldine by email

By Geraldine O’Brien

Children seem to know the difference between reality and real life even though they spend a lot of their lives playing and living in their imagined life.

This thought surprised me !

My inner child encouraging me to followed this tread, to see where it lead.

It reminded me of a younger self and how. I had finally learnt to read. She could transport her self away from the reality of life and into a magical world which some days was better than the realty of my situation at that time.

Many years ago I came across Mac Barnett, a children’s writer based in San Francisco.

His wonderful TedTalk “Why A Good Book Is Like A Secret Door”. It still has the ability to make me laugh out loud many years later.

I love his mischievous style and have bought many of his books as gifts for children, and secretly I read them myself.

I got to meet him in Dublin when he was here on a book tour I was delighted to find he was just as disarming in real life as he was in his TedTalk.
While visiting San Francisco some years ago. I visited some of the magical places places he recommended in his TedTalk, dragging my family along with me. They were exactly as he said zany and very imaginative.

As we can be influenced by many things around us, I don’t want to take accidental credit from Mac Barnett should I inadvertently have used his words and or ideas for framing this blog.

I knew exactly what he was talking about when he mentions “Wonder and crossing over into Narnia” and how we can relearn as adults how to visit this magical spaces in childish our minds.

If you like to watch this talk.

I have two beautiful granddaughters. Their mother and father are doing a great job parenting them, especially as the oldest was born during Covid lockdown and they all lived with us until very recently. I feel very privileged to have shared their lives from birth.

I am now able to converse with the oldest, she can now tell you what she needs or wants as she is very proudly “three”. She loves books as well as her grandmother She has twigged that books are a great source of stories and knowledge and I am her willing co conspirator.

Recently on visit she presented me with a book to read for her.

Four books later, I was getting weary and was looking for a gentle way to distract her without breaking the wonder of this time together so I asked her to tell me a story. Her eyes filled with  excitement and she asked “What story“ ?

“You decide” was all she needed to begin to tell “Her story”.

I decided I wanted to record her so I has a digital memory of her at this charming age of her life.

As she is a child of the 21 C she is already desensitised to her parents LifeCacheing or LifeStreaming her young life, in videos and photos mainly.

She happily obliged me. Starting again but this time she began illustrate her story using her voice, face and body to explain and illustrate her emotions. Which in turn greatly enhanced my experience of her story.

I should explain, her favourite music and film is ABBA and Mamma Mia. She has learned from ABBA and Mamma Mia how she can hold peers and adults attention in a very engaged way. Using these methods.

Driving home later I remembered the song by the Bumbles, Video Killed the Radio Star, thinking to myself  that she is already a video star.
Looking up the lyrics later, I realised how relevant the song still is.

I was surprised to see it still is very current despite being released in 1979. It was the first video played on the MTV music station.

The story behind  ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ Is about nostalgia referring to technological change in the 1960’s and the desire to remember the past and the disappointment that children will never be able to experience that time.

We are currently experiencing unprecedented growth in AI which may allow children of the 21C, experience the past in ways that have been unimagined before. Sometimes the reality of our lives is too much to handle and why it’s good to remember to see things through the eyes of a child.

My reality is to try to live as much as I can in the present.

As a designer whose job is to problem solve for my clients on daily basis.

I find that the ability I use everyday is my imagination.

Creatively escaping  from the reality of daily life so I can indulge in and play in my minds eye, to find a creative solutions for my problems.

It’s important not to diminish children early in life, from using these already honed and valuable skills of curity, imagination and play. These are skills that they have already learned during early childhood before they negotiate the education system of the 21C.

I can see how ChatGPT and other AI companies has helped us to explore how these skills can be used and applied for good and bad. I think it’s early days yet. I am concerned about what will be lost in the the rush to monetise this technology.

To borrow a phrase from Mac Barnett’s TED Talk “Its all about the” Art” in the Venn Diagram” Or to say it another way, to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.