Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Balance of Creativity and Education that We Want to See in Children’s Books

The Balance of Creativity and Education that We Want to See in Children’s Books

By Amanda Green

All of us can probably remember a handful of children’s books that colored not only our childhood but also much of our early development. Whether it was a Dr. Seuss book, a classic like Goodnight Moon, or an autobiographical compilation like Little House on the Prairie, the books we read as kids have a very real impact on how we develop as youngsters and grow into the education system. The right children’s books can teach lessons of love and responsibility while also instilling in us a passion for reading and a desire to learn.

This is true of every generation. Although the titles and the stories may change, a good children’s book universally succeeds in capturing the imagination and accomplishing these aforementioned objectives. Even today, in a world where kids grow up with wireless internet, Android phones, and instant connectivity, this formula for stories remains just as valuable – if not more valuable – as ever before.

So what kind of children’s books can best instill all these important values? What kind of books will make learning fun for our kids, and will do so at a young age?

While there is no concrete way to answer these two questions, experience has taught me that the best children’s books are those that best balance outlandish, fantastical elements with real-world lessons. When it comes to creativity, the best books will walk the line. They won’t be so creative as to entertain the child but do so only in a fantasy world that doesn’t make them interested in their own. Conversely, they also won’t lack creativity to such a degree that the child fails to find the book memorable and doesn’t see reading – and, by extension, learning – as a kind of exploration.

Instead, our ideal book will be extremely created but grounded real-world applications. For me, Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth immediately comes to mind. Set in a fantasy world that nonetheless succeeds in making real-world learning an alluring prospect, this 1961 book walks that line of creativity perfectly. Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in my opinion, is a close second.

 So when you’re looking for books for your child, try to find the right balance between education and creativity. And, always remember: if you want your kid to love reading and learning, be sure to start them at a young age.

Kathy Stemke's website:
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McKenzie McCann said...

I was a complete Dr. Seuss child. My parents read those books to me when I was still in the womb. I honestly believe the early exposure to so many poetic-styled books gave me a better ear for language.

kathy stemke said...

As a teacher, I recommend rhyming books for early readers.

Thanks for your comment McKenzie.