In this age of science and technology, many people believe children receive wondrous stimulation for their intellect and their imagination.
I think this is false. The vast majority of children I see are becoming every day more dependent upon provided stimuli: stimuli that grow ever more coarse, loud, and in many instances violent, in order to compel attention from jaded consumers.
Children love these spurs. That’s the problem. They passively await external excitations. They expect the exterior arousals to be ever more tectonic, rapid, and novel.
The corporations and individuals that generate these dubious products are infinitely skilful. The media they create are extraordinarily effective.
It is difficult for concerned parents, teachers, and other adult caregivers to counteract the products’ corrosive power. And almost impossible to insist the children for whom they care set the products aside.
Nightly storytelling is one proven means by which caregivers can exert healthy influence. Influence that children need and love.
And will respond to. Respond by asking one thousand questions. Asking if they and their caregivers can draw pictures to illustrate the tales they like. Asking if the caregivers will extend and expand the story. Carry it forward. Reach back in narrative time, and relate the prequel.
The more preposterous a story’s characters and content, the more delighted most children will feel.
The more outlandish the characters’ names, the more giggly the children will become.
The more spectacular the tales’ liberties with the tyranny of fact, the more emancipated the children will know themselves to be.
Blankets tucked in. Lights out. Loving farewells. Good night. Sleep well. Good night, good night.
Before sleep, adrift in fancy, afloat in fantasy, the child wafts and flows. Imagines. Envisions. Seeks and accepts enchantment. Sleeps. Dreams.
Creates. Thinks. Finds and grows her own artistic gifts. Discovers and develops his own inventive capabilities.
Rather than stuffing earplugs into her eardrums. Pacifying his brain while zombie horrors unfurl on a screen. Scrambles her intellect while rappers grunt vile inane messages. Stultifies his brain while his thumbs boogie across a glittering screen.
How Can We Do This?
Storybooks are often wonderful. Many family films have true magic. It’s lovely and it’s meaningful for families and classrooms to read books together, to watch and discuss films together.
Nothing else, though, is so magical is a caregiver’s own consciousness conveyed in craft. The more wholly personal the craft, the better. The more spiritual teaching we embed in our tales, the better.
Let the child see and hear the caregiver’s mind and heart. The caregiver’s moral imagination.
Let the child dive into the influencer’s imagination. Swim there. Reply with her own. Respond with his.
It seems hard to make up stories. But it isn’t. They will flow from you.
Because you remain a child. Inside the adult you are lives still the joyful, ingeniously original dreamer you were. Fecund visionary you were born being. Fun, funny, fascinated explorer who came to this earth so glad to be here, so enthralled by what you discovered all around you.
Everyone can make up stories for the children we love.
You’ll love doing it. The children you parent, the children you teach, will love you for doing it.
Often it helps us to experience examples.
It helps to explore instances.
We feel freed by them. The liberties another has taken teach us there need be no restraints, no limits.
There can be … outpouring. There can be play.
From time to time I will post on this site stories I’ve made up for my grandchildren and nephews. They liked them. I hope the children you’re looking after will like them, too.
If they do, please make up your own.
If they don’t, blame me and make up your own.
I will post the first example tomorrow: The Wandering Goose Brothers.
To be followed shortly by: Be Bop And Alulua.
And: Chichester Cathedral And The Meadow Bountiful.