Growing up, my siblings and I were almost constantly in the throes of some imagined story -- shipwrecked travelers, desperate orphans, disguised royalty, westward pioneers. After our obligatory hour of reading, our afternoons were often spent outdoors in worlds available only through the creative power of our minds -- worlds often introduced through the stories we had read... In the past few years I have come to the conclusion that those hours of imagination gave me far more than just good memories. As I have begun writing my first books and done a bit of speaking all over the United States, numerous people have asked me what gave me the ability to dream, what drove my desires and shaped my goals. How did my brother become a composer? My other brother a writer? What was the secret to our upbringing? The answer is simple: God, family, and ... imagination.
Imagination is too often described as a 'childish' thing -- attributed only to the young, the very creative, or the 'artsy' and impractical. But in reality, imagination is a transformative force that is common to all people who dream deeply enough to accomplish something of worth with their lives. At its core, imagination is the ability to envision the future we desire, the force enabling us to pursue a dream whose reality is radically different from the present. We cannot set out on a road of great hopes and determination if we have no concept of what it is we are journeying toward. Imagination drives inspired action." ~ Sarah Clarkson in Read for the Heart pp. 147-148
When my children were younger, we had an hour of quiet time every afternoon. They each had their own basket of books, carefully selected by mom, and a treat of some type. This was an hour I truly appreciated! Mommies need a break from the go, go, go of mothering. This hour also blessed my children. They read books about history, science, Christian history, and fiction of all sorts.
These books helped stir my children's imaginations. They could be bold heroes or delicate princesses. Every era of history could be acted out! One of our favorites was Roxaboxen, which directed hours of pretend. This sweet book is about children playing outdoors and creating their own town, Roxaboxen.
Old clothes from Goodwill and garage sales and hand sewn capes became the wardrobe for my budding actors and actresses. They made props out of anything and everything.
Children are creative, given the opportunity. If they have been given a solid diet of TV and video games, they might struggle a bit with using their minds to amuse themselves. Our culture encourages conformity, not individuality. Our Creator God gave us minds that can imagine. Schedule time this week for your children to play, indoors or outdoors and give them resources for play (dress up clothes and props) and use their imaginations!
Here are some great children's fiction that Sarah recommends: Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink A Little Maid series by Alice Turner Curtis The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois
These are books that make wonderful read alouds as a family, or they can be given to older children to read on their own. What book are you reading to your children this season? May the Lord bless you as you stoke the fires of your children's imaginations! Pick up Sarah's book with 384 inspiring pages!