At the moment our 17 month old grandson is totally enamoured with reading books, so usually we spend considerable time reading whatever he has chosen. What is fascinating to watch is how much his imagination is stimulated; how long he can concentrate and focus his attention on still images; how much information about the world he is absorbing, articulating responses initially through sounds and now a repository of “words.”
His older sister, aged 4, recently re-enacted her book “Tangled” (based on the movie about Rapunzel). Using her dolls and an assortment of carefully selected “props,” she replaced the scenes depicted in the pictures with her own interpretation. Adding her own dialogue she let her imagination transport her into the story, all stimulated by the images she referenced in her book.
So a reminder to everyone who is a parent, grandparent, caregiver. Give the children every opportunity to “read” books using still images. The pictures and illustrations in books don’t rely on an ability to decode language but are “effective in getting children close to people and situations; and able to take children into complex situations in a straightforward but valid way.”1
This week our Year 5 – 8 students and a number of parents were treated to a musical spectacular performed by students at St Peter’s, Cambridge. Starlight Express was brought to life by an ensemble that had obviously spent hours rehearsing. The entire cast and crew transported the audience into an imagined world where personified trains battled for supremacy in an international race. We were captivated.
Dramatic performances breathe life into narratives and provide an audience with the opportunity to suspend disbelief. Theatre is centered on thinking and imagining, two processes that are also evident when we read.
If it is wet this weekend get out the picture books and some props for you and the children, and let the power of still images and drama stimulate your imagination.