by Rich Keller
Regular columnist Laney Flanagan is knee-deep in college homework this week, so I'm helping out with a guest column. Yes, I'm not as pretty as Laney. Or young. Or have a head of hair like hers. You have to live with it!
This week my six-year-old daughter publishes her first book, The Big Garden. This is not a stapled group of white copy paper pages filled with minimal words and squiggles. My daughter put effort in connecting the narration with the pictures she drew. I was so amazed at what she did I felt it deserved a real life publication. Boy, is she giddy about it!Before you ask the obvious question, let me answer it for you ... Why can't a six-year-old publish a book? And, as a follow-up question, why should we let their urge to write and illustrate a book lay fallow until they're older? Creativity defines us from the time we can pick up a toy well past the point we type our resignation letter. But, as a 2014 study revealed, children's creativity begins to diminish as they start moving up the educational ranks due to rigid curriculum and standardized testing. By the time they reach adulthood their creative troubleshooting abilities are almost nonexistent. No wonder so many adults stare in glee at the blank walls of their cubicles.
It's true some school districts are making serious attempts to maintain and even expand this creativity. At the elementary school my daughter attends there are numerous outlets for creativity in the form of art, music, and even lively discussion within classrooms. And while that's helpful, it's up to parents to encourage the creativity of their children at home. The combination of both my daughter's teachers and the creativity of her family members provided the impetus to write her book.
There's one more reason why she can have her book published -- the tools are there. I understand this may not be a New York Times bestseller, but placing the book on Amazon and Kindle is certain to draw the attention of folks that aren't her friends, family, and people who see her perky smile and can't help purchasing five copies. If the talent and urge are present there should be no question on releasing a book.
Writing a book, composing a song, or creating a new piece of art ... it doesn't matter what the creative outlet. Encourage your children to turn off the video games and let their imaginations run wild. They, and the world, will be better off if they do.
How do you encourage creativity in your children?