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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review Pile Cleanup Review 2: Imagine Childhood

Title: Imagine Childhood
Author: Sarah Olmsted
Page Count: 208 pages
Publisher: Shambhala Press
Genre: non-fiction
Copy for review obtained via NetGalley.com in anticipation of an honest review
*Note: This title will be released on October 12, 2012*

Back Cover Summary:
For children, potential is limitless, curiosity is an electrical current, and every moment is open to the possibility of the unexpected. Day-to-day life is filled with adventure. Road blocks are invitations to try new routes. And the world is vast and expansive. This book is a celebration of childhood through the crafts and activities that invite wonder and play. The twenty projects and activities in this book are meant to speak to the way children engage with the world. These projects are not about what is produced in the end (although that part is fun too) but rather they are stepping-off points—activities that spark curiosity, an adventure, or an investigation. They’re about the process of getting there. They’re about the conversations that happen while making things together. They’re about getting to know the world inch by inch. They’re about exploring imaginary universes and running through real forests. They’re about living in childhood . . . regardless of your actual age. They’re about being a kid.

This book is an amalgamation of several things- it's part craft book, part treatise on play, part journal, part photography collection.  It contains a variety of projects inspired by nature and intended to spark creativity, discussion, and exploration.  The illustrations are beautiful- it's the kind of book you could look at just for its own aesthetic appeal and leave the content for another day.

Regarding the projects- there are step by step directions for each project, and a photo of each one if you'd rather wing it and see where you end up doing it completely yourself.  Additionally, the textual pieces that introduce each project provide an interesting format for reflection on the different themes of the book- play, imagination, and our relationship to nature from when we were children, versus how we relate now as adults.

I'm a huge fan of craft and project books and oftentimes my first foray into one will be just looking at the pictures and getting excited by what's inside.  Sometimes I want to make the projects inside look just like the pictures, and sometimes the pictures are just the inspiration to do something on my own and I go from there.

I wouldn't use this book as a roadmap- I would explore it as an adult and use the ideas to springboard working with kids.  As summer vacation winds down, sometimes the idea barrel for what to do with the periods of free time that have opened up can feel pretty empty.  Exploring books like this one can provide new ideas for activities for kids to work on on their own, and can provide ways for adults to keep the play going and encourage language development and usage as well as creativity without taking over the project.  As an added bonus, many if not all of the projects use recycled materials or things found in nature, so there isn't anything to buy or acquire.

So with all the good stuff going on in this book, why only 3 stars?  I guess my biggest issue with this book as a produce for sale is that I'm not sure if what's inside is worth the $19.95 cover price.  I would definitely recommend seeking this book out at the library for the inspiration you can gather, but in the world of Google you could find all the ideas here someplace else, including the journal-like reflections.  I enjoyed reading the book and thinking about the contents, though, so as a reading experience it was definitely fun.

Overall Rating:

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