The new Chief Executive of Disney said something really wonderful at Disney’s recent shareholder meeting.

When asked by a child attendee what advice he would give to future Chief Executives of Disney, he said “Storytelling is at the heart of everything we do.”  

His statement isn’t too dissimilar to one of Walt Disney’s own, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.”

How refreshing, especially as so much of the focus that we hear about with regards to children’s entertainment today seems to revolve around the competitive nature of the market and little more.  I agree with both men, that “sticking to the knitting” needs to prevail less identities and direction be lost and so goes your “kid” audience.  I know of many companies today who serve kids that suffer from this.  It’s much harder to get back on track then stay on, indeed.

As a storyteller myself as well as a former preschooler teacher and mom of five, there is no doubt that “imagination” is key to any good story, but where others believe it is at the heart, I do not.  Experience has taught me that “wonder” is what makes a good story great.  “Imagination” is merely the packaging of which it is wrapped. 

A great story inspires kids to “wonder”.  It is both “wonder-filled” while making children feel “wonderful.”  That combination coaxes children to “commit” and “learn”.  Such an important element to any great story, it’s the one that opens the door to all the rest. Fallen silent, it takes with it the magic kids adore as well as corporate direction.  Walt Disney knew this for certain as “Mickey Mouse” encapsulated “wonder” in spades and so goes Disney and all its derivatives.

When I taught preschool years ago, igniting “wonder” in my kids also ignited “creativity, dreaming” and “wisdom.”  Without the former, the latter three suffered.  Socrates explained it this way,“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
It is why I placed “wonder” at the center of my children’s book series “Jasper’s Giant Imagination,” including its newest release. “My TOOTH”S LOOSE!” (4RV Publishing) which has children wondering “if their teeth really can refuse to come out of their mouths.”  When you get kids to wonder, you get them to think as well as commit to the very thing you leave them wondering about.

It’s key to the very knitting mentioned above.  It should not be overlooked nor take a back seat when developing, entertaining, or wooing children’s attention in any form.  “Does it make kids wonder?” should always be asked upfront if the goal is to seek out great stories and opportunities over good in an effort to capture children’s eyeballs, in my opinion.

We will, undoubtedly, see if Bob Chapek agrees as he takes over the reins of Disney.  He already has half of that equation right. Good Luck, Bob!