Sunday, November 16, 2014

Picture Books - Encouraging Creativity

Huge thanks to Megan Daley for your 'Creepy Crocodile' review on Children's Books Daily ...and all that you do to promote children's literature and reading. Here's the link:

 Apart from reading and sharing a picture book, here are some other things you can do that encourage creativity:

1.  Search the author’s and illustrator’s name on the web to discover their website and any giveaways or fun facts they have in association with the book. You might find downloadable outlines to colour, music to play or other treasures. But not all creators will have extras on their site.

2.  Soft-toys, hand or finger puppets or cardboard cut-outs that are unrelated to the book can be used to hold conversations with its characters.

3    3.  Drawn or downloaded pictures of characters can be fixed to paddle-pop sticks, or similar, to act out the story or tell a different story.

4.  An adult or older sibling might write or type out the story (or a small number of pages from it, or read a page from it) and the child draws their own illustrations before looking at the actual book. Every professional artist’s version would be different, so there is no ‘correct’ illustration.

I've done this with school students when I've taught 'illustration and book design' workshops with any age from about 6 upwards. A particular favourite text to do this with is the brilliant 'Mummies are Amazing' by Catriona Hoy, illus Annie White and pub. Lothian.

'Daddy thinks that mummies are for going shopping. That's NOT what mummies are for!

...Mummies are for making snakes out of stockings and buses out of boxes...'

.    Or before returning a favourite book to the library, the child might create a model or picture of their favourite character, page, or even a copy of the whole of the book, including flaps to lift. Encourage creativity, not complete accuracy, with new backgrounds, colours, clothes, additions and omissions. If the child is old enough, and perhaps with a little help, they may enjoy folding, cutting and sticking thin card to engineer pop-ups and other features in their interpretation.

A child’s version of ‘Hatch, Egg, Hatch!: A Touch and Feel Action Flap Book’ - Shen Roddie, author, 
Frances Cony, illustrator, pub, 1991 by Joy Street Books and still a favourite. 

‘Maybe if I fed my egg it would hatch’ she said. She boiled a big pot of spaghetti and poured it all over the egg saying ‘
Come on out my pretty; come out and eat your dinner.’

Yes, the original page by Frances has string (representing spaghetti) being poured from a pot - but the 6 year old has creatively imagined the text on a poster and drawn this along with a frog that has climbed a ladder to attach it to a wall with a hammer and nails. They weren't in the original version.

5.   Some children enjoy writing and illustrating their own original books, even when they’re very young. Before they have learned to write, they can draw the pictures and then tell an adult or older brother or sister what words to write for them.

It doesn’t matter if the book doesn’t get finished – published authors never finish some stories that they start.

The next image was drawn by my son. I made up a bedtime story and the next day we wrote it out and he illustrated it. Interestingly, his drawing is similar to that drawn by a professional illustrator when the story was later edited and published as 'Kangaroo's Visitor Gets A Surprise' by Writer's Exchange.

My Writing for Children website:

Peter Taylor 

4 comments: said...

What a lovely, clean looking blog. Congratulations on your success Peter and some great ideas here for children's creativity.

Peter Taylor said...

Thanks, Renee. There is no 'one answer fits all' when it comes to encouraging children to read or be creative. It's good to let them experiment in any way they wish. I think the worst thing parents do (and I've done it myself) when a child suggests an idea is to say 'That won't work', because they mostly have more imagination than adults and can often develop and modify the idea into something that satisfies them or is even brilliant. And it's essential to learn by mistakes/discovery. When my children were small and I worked from home, they used everything I had in my studio, including very sharp scalpels (bad neglectful Daddy) - but they never injured themselves. My son enjoyed making papier mache models of book and cartoon characters. He's 26 now, and his 'Hagar the Horrible' still sits in my studio.

e said...

Great article about an interesting idea. I think more people should be thinking about using their pictures books in the ways you have suggested

Peter Taylor said...

Thanks, Iain. I love your art and hope your creativity eBook, - 101 Creativity Tips: Ideas on how to release your inner creativity, overcome creative block and realise your creative dreams, sells heaps!