Born for Greatness: Author Spotlight

Born for Greatness: Author Spotlight

Alice Ray, author of the newly published Born for Greatness: Me, You and the Dalai Lama by Bouncy the People Trainer, talks about what led her to write a storybook for children when she is best known for designing innovative technology tools that empower kids to address their behavior issues and the reasons behind them.

You have just completed a major app for early learners (You Can Learn) featuring Bouncy. What led you to write this book as well?

I believe in story. It’s the main way we humans have transmitted learning across cultures throughout ages, especially for very young children. Beyond that, I love the touch and feel of books, the sensuousness of a paper page, the richness of the colors, the fact that you CAN "deface" a book without ruining it for future use. Lots of our favorite books had smears of jam, and coloring and torn pages as they were read and reread.

What’s the significance of the theme "born for greatness?"

Research is clear that low expectations are tied to low achievement in school and life. By second grade, many children are already victims of an expectation gap that translates into an achievement gap, which widens over time. I wanted to set a context of very high expectations for all children, including those facing great adversity. I was one of those kids. Getting the message early and often that despite difficulties in my family I was born to do great things helped me immensely.

The book is dedicated to "the children of today who will need greatness beyond measure to lead a world we haven't yet imagined." What do you mean by that?

Every child alive today will go through change and hard times at some point. The world as a whole will face intense challenges to survival as an ecosystem. To get through those times successfully, kids will need greatness beyond measure: a strong sense of themselves as lifelong learners with the autonomy, optimism, empathy, grit, self-control and perseverance needed to handle whatever life throws at them. Those qualities don’t happen automatically; they come through training and perseverance.

Where does the Dalai Lama come in?

He is a perfect example of the value of systematic training. Reading that even the Dalai Lama had preferred play over study and had a hard time sitting still confirmed my sense that there was a story of hope here for young children, especially those who had a hard time with those very same things and/or whose life circumstances might not ever awaken in them the notion that they were born for greatness.

What’s the connection to Bouncy’s You Can Learn app?

Born for Greatness sets a framework of high expectations in which training and support have the best effect. But just telling kids they are born to do great things does not guarantee their success. As with the Dalai Lama, structured training is also important. Tablet technology makes that training able to be personalized and delivered to very large numbers of children, with individualized feedback to each.

Tell us about your decision to make Bouncy’s You Can Learn app free.

Too often the best resources—physical, emotional, spiritual—go to those who need them the least. By building the absolutely best training app we could and making it free, we are able to ensure that, at least this once, the highest quality resources get to children whose life constraints might make those supports otherwise inaccessible.

Who is Bonnie St. John, and what does she have to do with the project?

Bonnie St. John is the voice of Bouncy in audio editions of this book, as well as the voice of Bouncy in the You Can Learn app. Her life has many parallels to Bouncy's. Despite early hardships, including having just one normal leg, she was a silver medalist in downhill skiing in the 1984 Paralympics and a Rhodes Scholar who worked in the White House. She credits her success in athletics and academics to being a "good getter upper" after many falls—exactly the lesson we are trying to pass on to children.

Related Links

Learn more about Born for Greatness: Me, You and the Dalai Lama by Bouncy the People Trainer, available from Research Press.

Learn more about Bouncy the People Trainer’s You Can Learn App, available from Ripple Effects.