How Can We Use the Power of Imagination to Help Kids Develop a Love for Reading?
by Susan Chodakiewitz
Kids explore their world and deepen their curiosity by exercising their imagination. I have often experienced how imagination plays a major role in the way kids process, learn and acquire curiosity. When children experience something new they often internalize that experience by drawing, playing make-believe, creating games, or making up stories.
My middle son is a perfect example of this. After his first trip to the aquarium at about age 7 he ran into the house and began drawing. For weeks after he drew pictures of sharks, whales and fish. I realized that drawing helped him to connect to what he had seen and learned. Drawing deepened his experience and his understanding. Through the drawing he explored the fish’s movements, their shape, their power, the world of the sea. The more he drew the more motivated he got to learn about sea creatures and read books about them.
Another time, after a family trip to England he began to sketch, paint, draw castles, cathedrals and medieval armor. I have note books and note books full of drawings he made during this period. The more he drew, the more he needed to know, so he read, and researched and drew some more. His imagination got so piqued by the subject that he even started begging to have fencing lessons. (Today he is a star fencer on UC San Diego fencing team.)
I believe kids learn best when they connect to the material through their imagination. The question is how can we use the power of their imagination to develop a love for reading?
I believe we can deepen a child’s reading experience by make reading an extension of play. Help kids experience the book beyond the pages. Use books as jumping boards for make believe. Inspire them to act out books, role play characters. Let books become your source of ideas for craft projects, baking, arts, drama… the possibilities are endless.
When a child’s creative play and imaginative life becomes linked to books, you’ll have a hard time getting them to WATCH TV!
I welcome your comments and ideas on how to inspire kids with a love for reading.
Susan Chodakiewitz is a writer, composer and producer. She is the founder of Booksicals Children’s Books- Encouraging the love of reading through the arts. Through her company Booksicals she has created the Booksicals on Stage literacy program which is currently presenting musical performances of the picture book Too Many Visitors for One Little House at schools, libraries, and special events. You can visit her website at www.booksicals.com.