COLUMN: ChatGPT tells lovely children’s stories


Dan Hahn

Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Dan Hahn, Columnist

Routinely, after I read a book to one of my young kids and turn the lights out, I will get a request to tell a story off the top of my head.

Sometimes I have something in mind and can recount a true story from when I was a kid, or maybe even make something up on the spot. But, most times I’m finding myself to be wiped out and in need of some creative assistance.

Just the other night my youngest, age 3, asked me to tell her a story about an elephant that could hear her heartbeat. So, I asked the artificial intelligence to tell a kid’s story about an elephant that could hear a little girl’s heartbeat.

It then gave us five solid paragraphs about an old elephant with exceptional hearing that met a young girl and they became lifelong friends.

Another time, this time with my older daughter, age six: asked me to tell her a story about a unicorn that makes a rainbow.

How boring, I thought. How about this: I suggested that ChatGPT tell us a story about a unicorn making rainbows while blind folded with one hoof tied behind its back. Way more interesting, right?

We were cracking up together as I read the story off my phone about the daring unicorn making rainbows blindfolded with one hoof tied behind its back.

It does take some creativity and collaboration to use artificial intelligence in a way that is both amusing and enriching. A recent article by Axios titled “AI’s rise generates new job title: Prompt engineer” reflects the changing world we are living in. Employers will now be looking for people who know how to prompt an AI in ways that are valuable to companies.

Professional application aside, I am a little concerned that I may be losing my ability to come up with a good or goofy story off the top of my head. But, parents of young children need to be kind to themselves, especially at the end of a long day. 

Actually, everyone needs to be kind to themselves at the end of the day, and AI can actually be that kind voice. Who cares if it is not real, kind words and happy endings do not need to come from a human in order for us to feel comforted by them.

It does take some amount of creativity to use a chat bot both ethically and effectively, and if you are one of those people looking for a career around AI, ChatGPT will be worth some time investment.

I am an optimist when it comes to artificial intelligence. Even though I am studying how to teach English composition at the college level, I am not worried that people will lose interest in learning how to write for themselves and others. 

I am certain that ChatGPT is instructive and educational in the hands of creative people and educators alike. Perhaps over time, I will learn to become a better storyteller myself, ironically, by being trained by AI?

One thing I am learning from this whole experience is that children’s stories tend to have happy endings, and the good intentions someone prompts ChatGPT with will be reflected in its output. 

Everyone knows we all sleep better after reading a happy ending, and the smart people prompting AI forward will certainly pave the way to a bright future that humans can certainly achieve with AI.

Dan Hahn is an English composition/rhetoric graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.