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Do Children Thrive on Imagination?

Today’s post comes to me courtesy of a very special little boy who visits quite often. The last time he was here we bought this costume for him for Halloween and he just had to try it out. I was interested in what happened once he was behind the knight’s helmet with the visor down and his very own sword and shield in hand. He launched into sword play! He needed no prodding or showing what to do. Somehow a knight lunged forth as I clicked my camera.


For Halloween this knight’s costume will have black pants added but he may have to push the helmet open so he can see as he wanders the streets looking for damsels in distress. Or candy.


This all got me thinking about how easily accessible imagination can be, given the right prompts. Isn’t that what we writers do? With the right word pictures we transport our audience wherever we want faster than a charging stallion carrying a knight to the joust.



And we keep the moment going long enough to hook the reader into our stories. The imagination is a spectacular aid for authors. If we didn’t have it, or if our readers didn’t have it, imagine how dull reading would be. And imagine how boring a new costume would be for my grandson.


Here’s a seven-year-old boy anxious to dress up on a very hot day in August because his imagination has been tweaked. How can writers make sure that happens every time someone cracks open one of our books?


7 Ways to Spark the Imagination:

  1. Take it out for a walk. Your imagination, that is. Look at the world all around and think of options that might be or could have been. Use your brain to take you into imaginary worlds. The sky is not the limit; it is the wide open door for us.

  2. Find moments to sit quietly and let your brain do its thing. In the doctor’s office imagine the individual stories of those around you: that mother with the whiny baby, the whiskered old man with the rheumy eyes, the woman with her long legs crossed so tightly.

  3. Actually go for a walk and clear your mind.

  4. Sign up for a curated news feed and, when it comes into your InBox every day, play the what if game. What if that oil spill happened right off the coast where loggerhead turtles have been laying their eggs for generations? What if your wife didn’t come home tonight? What if you broke your leg skiing with Trump? Well, maybe that’s a lot far-fetched.

  5. Go to Tim Horton’s or Dunkin’ Donuts and just stop, look and listen. Make sure you don’t get caught eavesdropping, although that might make a great story, too.

  6. Talk to everyone: the rushing young man in the coffee lineup, the lady beside you getting her hair coloured for the 40th time, the snarly man whose truck smacked into you and who told you it was your fault.

  7. Especially talk to the little boy who comes to visit and brings you all sorts of things: shells, flowers (weeds), and even a quarter because you’ve done that for him.

Back to the original question. Do children thrive on imagination? Yes, they do, if only we look, listen, and learn from them. I’m taking a page from my grandson’s book. I wonder if he’ll write one some day?



Elaine Cougler’s website: www.elainecougler.com

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