Imagination ~ Something to Think About

Fritz von Uhde, The Children’s Room

Read for the Heart 11292009Growing 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!

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  1. says

    We are in the middle of Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We finished the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and plan to finish this series too.
    Last year we read the Shoe Books. Theater Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Party Shoes and Ballet Shoes.

    I find that children retain what they have been taught in their educational studies through play.
    Many times I have taught a history lesson, and then released the children to play. In their creative play, they relive their history lessons. Boats have gone across oceans, land has been claimed in the name of the King and Queen, battles won, slaves freed, wagons rode, and many, many more adventures had, all on the front porch and in the back yard. :)
    I really think that a good long recess does more for a child’s mind than a longer school day. :)

  2. says

    I just ordered Sarah’s book this week… I can’t wait to read it! I’m reading Charlotte’s Web out loud to my four year old. We’re going to see the play next month and she’s excited to hear the story ahead of time. To my sixteen and fourteen year old boys I’m reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien and it is literally painful. Honestly, if my guys hadn’t specifically asked for it I’d quickly set it aside and opt for something much more humorous and light like The Story of A Bad Boy by Aldrich or The Adventures of Joel Pepper. :-)

  3. says

    Great book suggestions – I remember reading Mr. Poppers Penguins and Caddie Woodlawn when I was a kid. I agree that it is essential to give kids space to create their own environments instead of micromanaging the play process…thanks for the reminder!

  4. says

    Sarah’s book is excellent! I have recommended it to so many people, especially important for homeschoolers who use the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling.

    I gave my first copy to a friend but no one is getting the copy she gave me, with its’ sweet inscription. :)

  5. says

    Since my children gave up their afternoon nap times they have had a one hour “room time” every single day in the afternoon and it is truly BLISS for mommy! AND I love seeing how creative they are in their rooms when time is up. Often my daughter (almost 6) does not want to stop and will continue to play alone in her room with her babies and stuffed animals and my son (2 months from 8yrs. old) will have army guys lined up, lego buildings built and a whole make-believe scenario set up. I love it and I don’t see them giving up room time any time soon! Hooray!

    As far as reading goes – my son prefers to be active during this time…so I don’t push it…but my daughter gets her story books out and reads to the stuffed animals lol!

    There’s great wisdom in this post!

  6. Sally says

    Some comments from some of my favorite people and about books–what could be better. Just wish we had tea and scones and time to be together. Love your input.

  7. says

    Great article! We’re actually on the next to last chapter of The Twenty One Balloons right now. Every night it’s been so hard to close the book and promise my son that I won’t read ahead. I definitely have to check out Sarah’s other picks!

    Thank you!

  8. Terry Lee says

    I have a recommendation for Sarah’s next edition of the book: a perforated print out of the books listed by author and title to take to the library. Maybe also the section of library where they would be found (picture books, fiction, nonfiction) but nothing else. It would make life so much easier!

    Also, does anyone know of any good children’s fiction (ages 8-10) set in modern times with more modern conflicts (maybe within the last 10 years)? We’ve been through the pioneer books, but at some point, it would be good for the kids to learn that good characters and lessons can be found even in the modern age.

    Thank you, Sally. You are an inspiration!

  9. says

    You are 100% right! Great site/blog/post! Imagination is not just something childish, or funny, it’s one of the forces that drive the world! A. Einstein for example was different from the other people not by his knowledge but mostly by his imagination… All the great writers created their masterpieces using their imagination, all the inventors wouldn’t create their inventions that made our societies if there wasn’t their great imagination…
    And the books for kids created with great imagination could be a pefect way to educate children and their parents! The best books for kids are those which could also be read by their parents, as far as I know? Being as writer myself, I remember what a great influence the story of my Tale Of the Rock Pieces had on 2 kids of a friend of mine, even today they still take care of their health, don’t drink strong drinks, don’t smoke and do exercises every day! Just because they still remember the great deeds my heroes did in the book together with their many adventures…
    I would like to ask all users as well: Do you use sites like, cafepress. com, fiverr? They could be a good way to promote your works and to help “remove” stupidity in the streets like headlines on t-shirts, fridge-magnets, cups, etc: My Boyfriend kisses Better Than Yours, FBI – female body inspector, etc. Not everything we see and think of should be about sex, right? It would be much better if there were more nice pictures of mythical creatures, good thoughts, poems from fantasy genre, etc? I’m allanbard there, I use some of my illustrations, thoughts, poems from my books (like: One can fight money only with money, Even in the hotest fire there’s a bit of water, etc). Best wishes! Let the wonderful noise of the sea always sounds in your ears! (a greeting of my water dragons’ hunters)

  10. dorothy says

    We are reading through The Moffats series and are enjoying each chapter. We’ve also loved the Betsy Tacy stories. I just loved this post and the quote from Sarah’s book about imagination. I needed a little reassurance today for our path and that was just what I needed. Thanks, Sally:)

  11. says

    Right now we are reading through the Little House series and are in the middle of “On The Shores of Silver Lake.” I love to read books that make my children say “Just one more chapter, Mom. Please!”

    We have dress up play here daily – lots of time outdoors too.

    It’s a beautiful life.

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