By: DK Simoneau
Books. Many of us love them. We love the feel of snuggling up and turning the page to see what awaits on the very next page. They are like an adventure unraveling right between our fingertips, sometimes telling us a magical story. Sometimes teaching us about something we might long to know. But what we don’t realize is how important they are to helping our minds think and grow, so that we are more productive in our world.
Like so many I grew up reading books, starting with picture books when I was very small. I remember memorizing the stories so that I could “read” them to my parents. Sometimes I read little board books. Sometimes my mom would read long stories from big story books. Other times I just read along with the magical “ding” as the record played along. Whatever the way, for most of us, reading books as a child was the beginning for our love of books and to our path of thinking outside of the box.
Is reading books when we are young just about learning to read? They lead to us sparking our imaginations. They lead us to think even in picture format which helps us think in much bigger thoughts than the specific ramblings of just words on a page. Often what we read on the pages is playing out in our mind. As we see the illustrations in a picture book, our minds begin spinning out its own little movie. When we read words on a page, with or without pictures, our minds begin picturing what it is we are reading. That picturing is what ultimately leads to more creativity. When we imagine things we begin thinking bigger. We aren’t static. And thinking bigger ultimately makes us into better people because we can brainstorm and think in ways beyond what is concrete and in front of us.
Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas was written because of thinking bigger. It was sparked by an innocent conversation with my daughter. She (who has been an avid reader her entire life) asked an innocent question about why Santa’s suit was red? I didn’t really have an answer, but that inquiry made me wonder. Why is it red? What would Christmas look like today if it weren’t? Would changing that one thing change all of Christmas as we know it? My mind began imagining all of the things that might change. And my hope is, as kids read this book today, they ask themselves those same questions. What might change? What might change in their house at Christmas time if one thing were different? What if Santa’s suit stayed the same, but the date changed? I hope they are picturing striped reindeer and polka dotted snowmen. I hope they are imagining the most whimsical Christmas ever, because those thoughts are what will make their minds expand. There can be so many questions and answers that come from just one question. And reading books can and will help expand those ideas by teaching our minds how to think beyond what is on the page.
We operate in a global world. We must learn to think and look at things differently than we’ve always done. Learning to read and imagine stories as we read helps us to do that. Even reading a how-to book with a mind that has learned to imagine can help us improve upon the process we are learning about. Perhaps we follow the basic how to, but we then can improve upon it. When we learn to expand our minds, we aren’t limited to seeing what is, but rather we are able to create beyond that with our minds. It makes us better thinkers, storytellers, writers, and more. It makes us active in a world that is constantly changing. It makes us creative. So do yourself a favor. Go read a book. And let your mind wander. Better yet, read a book to a child, and teach them how to imagine and let their mind wander too.
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