“I use my imagination as my full-time job.”
– Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Happy New Year! It’s been a few months since my last blog post and I promised (call it a resolution if you must) myself that I would write more. Today, I was inspired by Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s TED talk entitled: How a Boy Became an Artist. It seemed quite timely since I’ve been thinking about themes related to childhood and creativity. There’s nothing revolutionary about that idea but I thought of starting the year by recommending some books that will unleash the inner creative child in you. Here goes:
#1: Big Questions from Little People and Simple Answers from Great Minds by Gemma Elwin Harris
This book is exactly what the title suggests – children’s BIG questions answered by different experts. Gemma Elwin Harris started this project when her two-year-old son entered the “Why?” stage in his life. Children’s questions, she says, “…are often baffling.” And as a former teacher of seven and eight-year-olds, I’d have to agree with her!
Thousands of kids from ten elementary schools were asked to send in the questions they most wanted answered. As a result, they got questions such as: Why do we have music? Why are the grown-ups in charge? Is it OK to eat a worm? How did we first learn to write? How do you fall in love? How are dreams made? And the list goes on. What makes it doubly interesting is that different adult experts try to answer these questions. From Bear Grylls, an explorer and survival expert, to Alain de Botton, a philosopher – each answer is written with simplicity and wisdom that children or kids at heart will appreciate.
#2: Tell Me A Picture by Quentin Blake
Quentin Blake, as many of us may know, is one of Roald Dahl’s illustrators. His style is unmistakably unique – you can easily spot his artwork from afar because of his distinct style. I chanced upon this book when I visited Mt. Cloud Bookshop in Baguio City last summer.
Tell Me A Picture is such a wonderful book to introduce art appreciation to children. Inside the book jacket, the blurb says,
“In Tell Me A Picture, Quentin Blake has chosen twenty-six paintings and drawings, all with stories in mind…[it] vividly illustrates the richness and quality of children’s illustrations, and links it to the wider world of fine art through its infinite capacity to tell stories: a pleasure we all understand.”
Different artworks from famous artists are presented in the book. At the back of each artwork, one will find a cartoon drawn by Blake. In these cartoons, the characters talk about what they’ve seen in the painting. The book is fun to go through with kids and friends! There could be hundreds of hidden stories within one picture, you just have to take a closer look.
#3: Children’s Miscellany: The Collection by Various Authors
If you would look closely, the caption at the bottom says, “Three volumes of useless information that’s essential to know.” I’ve shared these books in our mini-libraries in the classroom and they are ALWAYS such a hit with the kids. After all, who wouldn’t want to know how to hypnotize a chicken? Or how about: What kind of maniac you are? How to talk like a pirate? The history of underpants? How to protect yourself from a vampire with a mobile phone?
I was lucky enough to find one of these books under a pile of secondhand books in a mall. All the useless information sparked my curiosity and elicited a lot of giggles and laughs. Luckily, I found the entire set in a bookstore! Trust me, these books contain the most valuable useless set of information. :p
#4: Snoopy’s Mini-books by Charles M. Shulz
Love is walking hand in hand.
Love is buying somebody a present with your own money.
Love is being able to spot her clear across the playground among four hundred other kids.
Charles M. Shulz doesn’t disappoint in these series of what I’d like to call Snoopy’s Mini-books. In these books, he is able to perfectly capture what human emotions are and how they feel. His works are, indeed, proof that there is nothing like the power of using simple words.
I hope you find these books in your hands someday, especially during those times when you feel like you’ve forgotten what or how it’s like to be a kid. Here’s to 2013, a year to rediscover lost imagination! 😀