Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Picture Books that Promote Imagination

by Susan Stephenson,

I am compiling a list of children’s picture books that encourage kids to use their imaginations. You’ll find that list embedded below, but before that a review, and then some questions to nudge kids’ thinking. All of these books by their very nature would make excellent choices for an exploration of the CBCA Children’s Book Week theme: Escape to Everywhere. With our imaginations, and books, we can not only escape but play, have fun and learn. How wonderful the gift of reading is!

Here’s a review of a new book. One Thousand Trees is a children’s picture book by Kyle Hughes-Odgers, published by Fremantle Press (2017.) RRP: $Au24.99

From the publisher:

Deep in the heart of the city, Frankie dreams of a thousand trees … over them, under them, through them, above them. Award-winning artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers takes readers on a journey of imagination and discovery, exploring the art of nature and the nature of art.

In the beginning of the book, we meet Frankie, sitting at the top of a building, looking out over a city made of lines, angles and drab colours. Nearby is a tiny shoot and leaf, growing from a crack in the concrete. Frankie’s imagination soars, and we see her in different spatial and emotional relationships with trees. Simple prepositions like between, up and atop add to the images to show us Frankie’s imaginary journey from tree to tree. Then to the very top of a tree where she sees beyond the city to distant fields and mountains. Finally, Frankie’s imagination and some paint helps the city become transformed.

As you might expect in a picture book that encourages imagination, Hughes-Odgers' illustrations are unusual, emotive, often showing different perspectives. I love to think of children losing themselves in these pages, allowing their imaginations full rein, and dreaming. Hughes-Odgers uses a limited palette of sepia, ochres and grey-green water colours, and this reinforces the book’s other-worldly “feel”.

As well as being a visual delight, I think One Thousand Trees is a very useful book for schools looking to supplement their resources about art and the environment, or resources that promote imagination. There are teacher notes available at the Fremantle Press website. I’ll also be adding One Thousand Trees to my list of children’s picture books about Change.

Questions to prompts kids thinking and discussion about imagination:

* What IS imagination? Where is it?

* What is the opposite of imagination?

* How do we use our imaginations?

* Is an imagination positive or negative?

* How can you tell a writer, an artist or some other creator has used imagination themselves?

* Do you know any books or movies that have examples of characters using imagination?

* How have you used your own imagination?

* In what way does your imagination work when you play?

* What is the difference between imagination and dreams?

* Why is imagination important?

* Can you imagine a purple penguin? Can you NOT imagine a purple penguin?

* Can you draw, model, create or write about something imaginary?

You might also also be interested in Change: Picture Book Suggestions and Questions, and Picture Books that Focus on Friendship.


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