Stirring the Imagination

As a writer, I am always trying to stir my imagination so the good stuff comes to the top. One simple way to do this is by connecting with my inner child. Children’s books can be a great escape and a fantastic way to rejuvenate a weary, stressed out adult-mind. C. S. Lewis said:

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

One of the first books that stirred my imagination was McElligot’s Pool by Dr. Seuss. I can still remember how that book awakened my creativity with its fantastic imaginary fish. I checked it out from my library countless times. I own it now, and still am awed by the pure imagination painted upon each page. It’s magical.

There are so many great children’s books. I love the funny rhyming poems of Jack Prelutzky and Shel Silverstein. Here’s a funny one:

Books like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis is a classic I’ve read dozens of times on my own and to my children. I like these more and more the older I get (which isn’t very old, unless you’re a teenager…and then I’m older than dirt).

The Harry Potter series is another one I savor. The stories are full of creative twists and plots and they are so much fun–a good breather for a harried author’s brain. They’re like old friends that you don’t see for a while…but when you do, it’s a happy occasion and you want to kill the fatted calf (or not…because I’m not a butcher and that would just be a mess…but I might go buy the fatted ribeye).

How long has it been since you’ve picked up a good children’s book and let pure imagination flow through you at the words and pictures? Don’t let it be too long. What are some of  your favorite children books that have awakened your imagination?

Char Signature

47 thoughts on “Stirring the Imagination

  1. Great reminder, Char, for without those early books, where would our imaginations be? My wife recently told me about one of the many stories she reads to her children at work. (She’s an Early Childhood Teacher.) It’s about a princess who reverses the tired princess and dragon stereotype. It’s The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. A great story. Perhaps you know it.

  2. Two things I love.
    The old set of Childcraft Encyclopedias my parents bought for me when I was young. The two favorite books of the set were stories and tales, and poems and rhymes. I still love to look at those and read my favorites. There was one about the Pirate Don Dirk of Dowdee! Loved it.
    The second is Suess’s story, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are. There is an entire segment about Ally Sard mowing his uncle’s back yard. I have it memorized and just love to say it! Thanks for reminding me about all of this. It’s the seeds sown in childhood that influence us till our very end, isn’t it. A good thing for parents to remember.

    • I’d probably love your Childcraft Encyclopedias. My grandma had some old books in her closet and those were some of my favorites (just because they were different than any of the ones we had). I wonder where those ended up?

  3. Char, I love both Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein — have both of them in my “library.” Though, it’s not a children’s book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is one of my favorite books. It’s about a little girl and I just love the story. I’ve not read it in years but I have it and need to revisit. Then of course, Little Women.

    • I haven’t read the Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ll have to check it out. I did love Little Women as a young teen. Thanks for reminding me.

  4. I love all the authors you mentioned Char, especially Shel Silverstein. “The Missing Piece Meets the Big O” is a favorite, though I love all of his poetry books.

    One I’ve been meaning to read again is: “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster.

    I hope you have a super week!

    • Thanks, Christy. Phantom Tollbooth (haven’t heard of it, but now want to go see what it’s about). Oh, and since you like dogs (and all animals it seems–Hee Haw), have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein? That’s told from the dog’s perspective (it’s an adult book). One of my favs.

  5. Honestly, I’m not a big reader of children’s stories. Obviously I read tons of them to my kids when they were young (and even when they were not so young anymore), and that was always our special time together. But I didn’t always enjoy what I was reading, especially when we moved out of picture books and into short chapter books. Some of it was pretty dull. But then came Harry Potter. Thank you, JK Rowling for giving me something to read aloud to my kids that I also enjoyed. Some of my most memorable times are those times I spent reading with my children. Too bad teenagers no longer want to sit with their mother and read books. Hmm, I wonder why… (Though sometimes we read silently in different corners of the same room, and that’s wonderful, too. 🙂 )

    • Harry Potter was a nice reprieve from boring chapter books. My husband got into them and read them to my son. They would sit at the table and quote phrases like big nerds..

      • It’s funny, because my oldest and I read through the whole series out loud (me reading to him), and now I see he’s rereading them himself. Of course, I swear he’s a speed reader. He gets through books so much quicker than I can. And he retains it all, too.

        By the way, I’m a third of the way into Secret Keepers. This one’s a little darker than the last one, and you know me, I like that. But I just finished reading the parts where Suri reveals some of her past to James in the letters. Oh, so sad, but you handled the topic beautifully. That couldn’t have been easy to write about.

        • Yes, it is the dark book–like Star Wars episode whatever # where Han Solo gets frozen into a popsicle and it crushes you.

    • Carrie, you didn’t read the best children’s books! 😉 There are tons of them that are absolutely hilarious, or very touching. I agree that about 80% of the children’s books out there are all the same and don’t do much for you. Some children’s book authors are simply brilliant and stand out of the crowd. As for youth authors, there are a few gems too and many of these books are enjoyable to adults. Some of them have been my favorite reads in the past couple of years.

      • Oh, there were some I loved, particularly any by Margie Pallatini. Her books are great. But you know me. I like my dark thrillers. Guess I could have dived into some of the early non-doctored fairy tales. Those stories were bleak!

  6. I just read Tuesday by David Wiesner, Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly, and Animals Should Definately Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett to my nine, eleven, and nearly thirteen year old sons. It truly doesn’t matter how old you are when the books are great.

    Some of my favoite children’s novels are The Little Princess by Frances H. Burnett, The Westing Game, The Penderwicks, From the Mixed Up Files…, The Narnia Chronicles, Harry Potter, The Thirteenth Child, and A Single Shard.

  7. I love The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe too. Some others that I’ll always love are Harriet the Spy, Little House on the Prairie, and A Wrinkle in Time.

  8. Oh, yes, A Wrinkle in Time. That’s one I want to pick up again. Dr. Seuss was always fun. I think my older sister might have taught me to read with those. I haven’t read any of them in years, but maybe it’s time I do….

    • I think it’s fun to reread them as adults because you get different things from them that you never would have gotten as a kid (like CS Lewis says, they’re even better).

  9. ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ was way ahead of it’s time! I also loved Dr Seuss, Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are and Peter Rabbit.

    Now you’ve inspired me to go back and read them again, Char 😀

    • All of those are perfect examples of awesome books! Where the Wild Things are–best pictures ever. I think my husband had that book memorized because he read it so much to our kids.

    • I love hearing everyone’s favorites. Beatrix Potter is another good one that brings back good memories. I don’t remember Tom’s Midnight Garden. I’m going to have a ton to look up after today’s post.

      • Even now I love the thought as animals talking and existing in a parallel existence to our won. I think of all the bugs and critters in my garden co-existing and I write about them . Two of my favourites are Lenny the Lizard and Sid the snail

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  11. I get to keep up with children’s books not just as a mom, but also as a creative writing teacher for kids. My students tell me about the latest thing they’re reading (usually new on the market), and that coupled with the classics, I know a pretty wide range of books. Not all of them are wonderful, by far, but at least I know what’s out there.

  12. Love children’s books! So creative. One of my favorites that I read to my children was ‘Seven Spiders Spinning’ by Gregory Maquire. We also loved ‘Sideways Stories from Wayside School’ by Louis Sachar. The humor in these stories really captured my children’s attention. Great post!

    • Great picks, Taylor. I just looked up the Seven Spiders Spinning one (great alliteration) and I loved the pictures on it. Thanks for telling me your favorites. It’s fun to hear everyone’s–giving me lots of good ideas to check out.

  13. I love McElligot’s pool! I didn’t get to read it when I was younger, but I found it at Value Village and picked it up for my kids. My younger son loves it almost as much as I do. I find it’s very encouraging to be reminded that I might catch anything if I just keep fishing. 🙂

    • I agree. The theme and moral of this story is so encouraging. I never tire of the magic in McElligot’s pool. I just popped on over to your site and read about your book Bound. I wish you luck with it. It sounded pretty intriguing to me.

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