I love books, always have. I usually have a couple of books around the house which I am reading or am planning to read in the near future. Since starting up this blog I’ve been collecting books about encouraging creative play at home.
Here’s my list of books, patiently waiting for me to have some time. The ones I have chosen to share with you today are all different in sometimes subtle and other times obvious ways. What they have in common is a passion for play and creativity and the belief that we should be passionate about that too.
With this list I hope to add you your own list and I really hope you’ll let me know about your favourites in return!
Books about Encouraging Creative Play at Home
1. Tinkerlab: a Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley
This book is most definitely first on my list to read. I am a huge tinkerer myself. I love coming up with ideas and then tinker my way through them, figuring it all out as I go along. I often end up with something very different from my original idea. It makes me happy to create and I would love to pass on this creative joy to my children. But since they are so young and undoubtedly have other interests than my own, I could do with some guidance. And I think I have found it.
Rachelle Doorley is the mother, artist and teacher behind the popular blog Tinkerlab, where you’ll find creative experiments for makers and rule-breakers. (I love that tagline!)
Her book covers 55 playful experiments that encourage tinkering, curiosity and creative thinking for children. These are most definitely mindsets that are important to children growing up in a world that values independent thinking.
Rachelle believes that kids are natural tinkerers that love to experiment, explore, play and learn a lot about problem-solving through hands-on experiments. She has written this book to help parents and educators of babies, toddlers and preschoolers understand and tap into this natural energy with engaging, (let’s-hope-so) easy-to-implement projects that value process over product. She has also added some recipes (magic potions!) and a list of materials to include in the art pantry for those of us who just love that kind of detail.
I can’t wait to get stuck in!
2. The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule
This book is written by Amanda Blake Soul, who writes the blog SouleMama, and through this book wants to help people “embrace a whole new way of living that will engage your children’s imagination, celebrate their achievements, and help you to express love and gratitude for each other as a family”.
The book covers 4 themes: gathering, playing, living and connecting. Throughout the book Amanda shares a wide range of projects and offers ideas for imaginative play, arts and crafts, nature explorations and family celebrations.
I already know I am going to love this book. I am charmed by many Waldorf traditions and I don’t think this book will disappoint in describing the many blessings of life lived in tune with nature and each other.
I am also a huge fan of Waldorf inspired crafts and am looking forward to the creative projects Amanda is sharing in this book. I am a bit of a collector of crafty books: more is more!
I am truly looking forward to reading The Creative Family. It just might be the book that makes me decide I want to live a wholesome life on a farm too!
3. Elevating Childcare: A Guide to Respectful Parenting by Janet Lansbury
I’ve been reading Janet Lansbury’s blog for a long time and I can not believe I have never gotten around to reading her first book: Elevating Childcare: A Guide to Respectful Parenting.
I think the RIE approach is a blessing for parents and children alike. It has offered me a different perspective on parenting and Janet’s blog is my go-to resource for dealing with just about anything parenting related.
For those who have no idea what RIE is or who Janet Lansbury is, I’ll quickly paraphrase for you what this book is about:
“Janet Lanbury’s advice on respectful parenting is inspired by Magda Gerber, who is the pioneer of the RIE parenting philosophy. Janet encourages parents to perceive babies as unique, capable human beings with natural abilities to learn without being taught; to develop motor and cognitive skills; communicate; face age appropriate struggles; initiate and direct independent play for extended periods; and much more. Once we are able to view our children in this light, even the most common daily parenting experiences become stimulating opportunities to learn, discover, and to connect with our child.”
This book is not only shows you how to think through situations from the eyes of a child, but also gives you the tools to respond in a respectful way.
In relation to creative play I think that the approach outlined in this book sets parents and children up for a creative mindset from day one. Parents with babies, and parents who wonder when and where to start encouraging independent and creative play might like this book. I know I will, more so because I recently discovered that there is an audio version available, which is absolutely perfect for parents with more listening time than reading time like myself. Good thinking Janet!
4. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown
Dr. Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute of Play in the US. He has interviewed over 6000 people, looking specifically at people’s play experiences, from criminals to Nobel Prize winners. After years of research his conclusion was that play is no less important to us than oxygen. I am sure we all agree.
Now this books gives the impression to be a rather boring scientific read, but I have been assured it is fairly light reading yet provides enough references for those who are keen to dive into more rigorous studies.
The book is made up out of two parts. Part one of the book “Why Play?” talks about the importance of play in general and part two “Living a Playful Life” seems to be focussing on how to stay playful throughout your life.
I am utterly intrigued by this man and would love to hear what he has to say. If you’d like to know more as well, here’s the link to a TED talk by Dr. Stuart Brown about the importance of play.
5. The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity by Jean Van’t Hul
I have no doubt this book is another little gem. Not only does it get raving reviews, if Jean’s blog The Artful Parent is anything to go by, I know I will absolutely adore this book.
Art activities are wonderfully diverse: they tap into our imagination and creativity, there is a sensory aspect when exploring different materials, learning new techniques, children learn about colours, shapes, … and we can go on and on about the benefits of ‘artsy’ activities. For me the most joyful part is watching my children at work, see how they grow more confident and enjoy that sense of achievement they have when presenting me their art. It warms my heart.
This book contains over 60 art project for children aged 1 to 8 years old. In addition to that Jean also talks about setting up your art space, how to talk to children about their artwork, ideas for how to choose your art supplies and how to re-purpose and organize the piles of art created (any ideas are most welcome!).
I think this book will make a great gift for my little girl, with a promise that we’ll do one project together each week. I think she’d like that. A lot.
6. Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments: From Boiling Ice and Exploding Soap to Erupting Volcanoes and Launching Rockets, 30 Inventive Experiments to Excite the Whole Family! by Mike Adamick
Now, this is a book I normally wouldn’t buy myself. I just don’t get terribly excited about science experiments. But lately I’ve been quite aware of how my own creative interests have a big influence on my children: they like to do what I do. So I’ve decided to make an effort to get out of my comfort zone and explore this whole new world of science, hoping it will broaden all of our horizons a little bit.
I chose this book because it covers a number of fields: chemistry, biology, physics, planet earth and the human body. I also quite like that it says to give sound explanations for the how and why of each project. It is quite vital to have the answers ready for all the “But why mummy, tell me!” moments I have no doubt will follow suit! Another big bonus is that most of the necessary items can be found around the house and that the projects are fool-proof.
I should blog about our progress because this book is sure to make for some interesting experiences!
What book would you add to the list?
Please, do tell me, I’m very curious to hear what books you would recommend. Maybe you have a book at home about encouraging creative play, it’s background, new projects or a different perspective. I’d love to hear!