Create a Literacy Rich Home–2: Imagination


Wow. I’m reading a book about dreams and imagination and loving what I’m learning*.

There are spectacular opportunities for parents to support the intellectual and emotional growth of kids when they encourage expressions of imagination!

Why haven’t I read or studied about this in depth before? It feels like I’ve missed a whole world of possibilities, or I’m a Jill-come-lately.

Why is imagination important? Because it (and the unconscious) is a never-ceasing fountain of creativity, solutions, information, and much, much more.

It’s where great ideas, inventions, and actions start. Certainly it can help children learn to read and comprehend better when someone at home is interested in and talks about the imagination.

Here are ideas of ways parents can give kids an advantage in feeling comfortable using the imagination. There are many more, of course. And every one of these activities can be expanded in myriad ways, if we use our imaginations(!).

1) Talk about dreams that show up during night sleep. You can simply ask children, “Do you remember any dreams you had last night?” Then allow them to tell what they remember, if anything.

When you ask this fairly often, you may start getting interesting replies. There’s no need to do anything with the dreams; just listening may be enough to communicate that dreams can have value and information.

2) Explain about visual symbols—how a picture has a message—from the most basic, like a red hand in pedestrian signal box at a traffic light means don’t walk, to the circle with a line through over a picture of a dog which means dogs not allowed here, to more subtle symbols.

You can ask, “What do you think that picture on that box or ad is saying?” A child’s answer might be very different from yours; let that be okay; you can both share ideas.

3) Comment on things in your child’s artwork. “The boy in the picture you drew looks like he’s jumping up high. I wonder what he’s feeling.” Or, “That butterfly has so many colors, I expect it is happy.” Children may tell you something entirely different from what you thought.

4) Talk about what nursery rhymes or poems or stories might mean. Is “Humpty Dumpty” about things that happen that can’t be changed, so we just feel sad and then accept them? Is “Cinderella” about how things can feel unfair, but then in time they can change? What about fairy tales? Harry Potter stories? What do they show us?

Do you have other suggestions for parents of ways to encourage imagination? Please put them in the comments section, so we can get a

*The book I’m reading is Robert A. Johnson’s, Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth, Harper & Row, 1986.

Comments are closed.