This post is sponsored by Barefoot Books.
Raising Imaginative Children: A Grassroots Approach
Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. If he was right, it follows that good parenting is at least in part about supporting our children’s imaginative development – but how, especially in today’s fast-paced world where information increasingly dominates?
Few products give the imagination center stage in children’s lives as effectively as a picture book. The simple act of being held spellbound by an illustrated story helps children develop the vital listening, remembering and speaking skills that form the foundation of learning. And if the story is shared by a sympathetic adult or an older child, the exchange will foster emotional literacy as well. Storytelling gives little ones the tools they need to make sense of the world; and because small children are such receptive learners, stories can easily become springboards for all kinds of other activities and events. Art and craft, dance and movement, singing and music-making all give youngsters the chance to explore, experiment and tell their own stories in their own way, but it is the heard story that kick-starts the process.
Barefoot Books Ambassadors are a grassroots, global network of parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, artists and storytellers who believe passionately in the central role of imagination in children’s lives. They run their own businesses, earn extra income or fundraise by selling award-winning children’s books and gifts, bringing art, story and adventure to their communities along the way. We turned to a few of them for their best tips on raising imaginative children.
Let them get dirty! Welcome dirt, celebrate mud, seek the puddles, praise the bugs and the creatures. Play, creativity and imagination is a dirty business – embrace it and celebrate it. A dirty child is a happy and content one.
–Laurie Mattaliano, Mom of two boys and creative entrepreneur
Have fun with a favorite book you read with your child! Add puppets, dress ups, and props to enhance the experience and let your child act out the story. Bring that special puppet along on trips, school activities, picnics and sleepovers. Let your child dictate or write new stories of your adventures together, complete with illustrations.
–Barbara Saunders Sims, Early childhood educator
Provide a bin of “dress up” clothes for your child. We have a drawer that we’ve stored old Halloween costumes and second-hand store finds. It’s amazing how children connect books you’ve read with their imaginative play, and the clothes provide the perfect bridge between the two.
–Adria Ibarra, Mom of two children under age five and elementary educator
Keep it simple. I lived in a small village in Central Africa for two years, and was always amazed by how creative the children were, even though they had nothing. In Gabon, a sardine can tied to a string was a car; a weed pulled out of the ground became a doll to play with. True creativity often comes from necessity.
–Tammy Bristol, Mom of two young boys and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
Our home is filled with Barefoot’s wonderful stories for children, and as a result, my two young daughters are avid listeners. Barefoot creates real literature for children inspiring their imaginations in the most unusual ways.
–Michali Lerner, writer and mom of two children under age six
Anyone can become a Barefoot Books Ambassador; you do not need to have a background in child education or publishing; you just need to love children’s books. You can work from home, offering your local community all kinds of simple, yet effective ways of supporting the imaginative development of children. In this way, the books become hubs not only for children’s imaginative lives but for their friends and neighbors as well.
One of the hallmarks of Barefoot Books is its commitment to cultural diversity. Many of the stories the company publishes introduce children to different cultures. This opens up a host of opportunities – Ambassadors often offer events and workshops around cultural themes that have particular personal significance for them. As a result, children and parents in their neighborhoods get to experience customs, traditions and activities that widen their own understanding of the world. Essentially, Ambassadors are invited to follow their own interests, translating imagination into action in all kinds of contexts: in schools, at farmers’ markets, at cultural festivals, in local community halls, and in multi-stranded initiatives that they develop with local non-profit enterprises.
Find out how you can help nurture children’s imaginations and creativity by becoming an Ambassador and living Barefoot.
About Jennifer Ockelmann
Jennifer works with Huddler.com, Mothering's Advertising Representative, where she acts as a liaison between Mothering.com and our sponsors. She was raised by an attachment parent and is passionate about showcasing sponsors who match the values of the community. Jennifer grew up in California, and she loves swing dancing, Spanish food and the beach. She can be reached at Jennifer@Mothering.com.