‘Grow’ your child’s imagination

A few weeks ago I met up with best-selling authors, David Almond and Sally Gardner to discuss their award-winning children’s books, ‘Skellig’ and ‘Maggot Moon’. Both books celebrate the power of the child’s imagination: in ‘Skellig’, Mina learns about life through William Blake’s angels and baby blackbirds while in ‘Maggot Moon’ Standish Treadwell fights the regime with dreams of a better world.


But Mina and Standish’s capacity for imagination is relatively rare – because in today’s world it’s hard to nurture a child’s imagination. In the face of app-filled mobile phones, endless reality TV shows and the highly-pressurised 8+ and 11+ exams, there isn’t much room for writing stories behind curtains or imagining goblins in your wardrobe. The space and time to be a child full of imaginative wonder is rapidly decreasing – as Gardner told me: ‘Twenty years ago five children, each one five years old, were given a paperclip and asked what they could do with it.

They came up with 500 ideas. Those same children were asked what they could do with the paperclip nine years later (when they were all eighteen years old and leaving school), and they could only come up with 5 ideas – between them. Something’s going wrong – we need to spend time growing our imaginations not shrinking them.’


So, how can parents nurture their child’s imagination? I’ve just set up a ‘mad about children’s books’ blog, www.moontrug.com, and its primary aim is to ‘grow’ children’s imaginations – to get them to explore stories and ideas beyond the curtain of everyday life. Whether it’s inventing words like glubshadow or coming up with quirky ideas to hunt down stories, moontrug encourages children to spend time letting their minds wander into undiscovered lands and unchartered territory. There are no exams or pass marks there – but it’s in this creative space that children unlock some of life’s most important secrets. So to get your children started, here are Moontrug’s Top 3 Story Hunting tips – because it’s the dreamers, the children who think outside the box, who will stand out from the crowd in this world.

david almond notebook1. Buy a notepad. Take it with you everywhere you go. Use it to record ANYTHING of interest: curious people, quirky facts, cool words, unusual stories, things that make you laugh, things that make you cry, things that make the hairs on your arms stand on end… At this stage, you’re a detective and you’re searching for an idea

moonligttttt2. Find out when the next full moon is then set your alarm for midnight that night. Creep out of bed, open your curtains just a crack, and write. The world is silver and full of moonbeams on a full moon at midnight. There are stories lurking in the shadows…


3. Buy some Story Cubes – a little like dice but with amazing pictures on: Available at Waterstones and on Amazon. Go into your bedroom and shut the door. Turn any music off then sit very still in the silence. Throw the dice. Look at the pictures. Where does the story take you?

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