Robert Hahn

inspired by integration

I'm always interested in infrastructure that brings people together and facilitates communication. I'm currently exploring social software, markup & scripting languages, and abstract games.

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noted on Tue, 04 May 2004

Reflections on Story Time With My Daughter

It’s been a little over a month since I wrote about my story time with my daughter, and a recent email exchange with Douglas Nerad prompted me to write an update.

I have been hacking away at this, and, by and large, I seem to have got the hang of it. Which is to say, I found a formula for telling stories that tends to result in higher approval ratings. Unfortunately, I don’t know it well enough to share with you. I’ll keep mulling it over and write something later.

What I do want to share with you now is that, by this point, I seem to have developed a minor cast of characters to draw upon. I probably shouldn’t find this remarkable, but I do.

Frank the Giant

Frank is the most popular character request by far. I first introduced him in a story that had the princess (my daughter) running away from the castle, into a forest that got stranger the further in she went. All of a sudden, she stumbled into a large clearing with an even larger house. She knocked on the door three times, and all three times it was answered, but the giant was so large, and she so small, he never thought to look down. At any rate, they do finally meet, and become the best of friends.

Frank has a magical hat. I brought this hat into another story after I found out how much my daughter loved the giant. This hat, always the size of a giant’s head, does one thing, and does it well - if a normal sized person were to crawl under the hat (assuming the hat was right-side-up on the ground), that person would almost instantly grow to be the same size as the giant — for as long as they are wearing the hat. Remove it, and the wearer is back to normal. This hat has been featured in many stories at my daughter’s request.


Cassie has made a few ‘appearances’ in story time as well. Not really much to say, here, but upon some reflection, I’ve realized that none of my special characters really match any of the common story archetypes (this might also interest you).

The Tickle Bird

The princess has a pet! This pet looks kinda like a cross between a parrot and a rainbow. Tickle birds, while wild, are extremely easy to turn into pets — they’ll swoop down and tickle you, and if you laugh, then they’ll become your pet. They’re also smart, and help little princesses get (or stay) out of trouble. Tickle birds will always turn threatening bad guys into friends, merely by tickling them into helpless laughter. This trick is especially handy for recovering out-of-control stories, let me tell you.

One thing I learned recently was that in Britain, there exists (existed?) a tradition where fathers make up tales to tell their children. As far as I’m concerned, this is hearsay, since I haven’t looked into it at all, but Tolkien was one such British father who told his children stories made up out of his head, and those stories eventually turned into the stories we get to enjoy today.

If you’re a dad practicing this tradition, British or not (I’m Canadian, and darn proud of it, too), I’d like to hear from you. Just as important, I’d like to encourage you to get inspired by the ideas I’ve outlined here. All my writings here are CC licensed, but this particular post has been specially licensed with this version, so you’re welcome to take what you’d like.

tall ship