Friday, September 27, 2013

Life-changing Nonfiction Sparks Your Imagination

I hope all of you have been following along this month as the INK authors share the Life-changing Nonfiction from their childhood. While reading about each author’s background, I had to dig through the cobwebs to recall my own early nonfiction experiences. It found it fascinating that, as adults, all the INK blog authors now write about areas that we were drawn to as children.

During my author presentations, I share with the students my childhood and how I loved making things. I grew up sewing stuffed animals for my brother, designing Barbie clothes, making puppets, putting on shows and creating anything. I believed that every child did this. Fast forward several years where I found myself working at one of the largest toy companies in the world designing stuffed toys --- with my office right next to all the Barbie designers.

Thing is, I also would secretly write stories in my bedroom closet. I loved to read. 
Each week, my mom would drop me off at the Mount Washington Public Library, while she shopped at the local Krogers. By the time she came back to pick me up, I had a nice selection of titles to take home and explore. 

Here are a few of my favorite books that made a lasting impression on my life:
Toymaker's Book
by C. J. Maginley
Harcourt Brace and Co., New York, NY, 1948

Fun for one - or two: 200 activities for boys and girls
by Bernice Wells Carlson (Author) , Raymond Abel (Illustrator)
Abingdon Press, January 1954

Make it Yourself! Handicraft for Boys and Girls
by Bernice Wells Carlson
Abingdon Press, 1950

Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook
by Editors of Better Homes and Gardens  January 1963
To be honest, I was fascinated by the little pear animals and the ice cream cones with sprinkles.

Nowadays, parents and kids can get a cornucopia of craft and recipe ideas on the internet. My daughter spends hours looking up things to bake and make on Pinterest. In fact, after searching everywhere for the vintage books that I listed above, my best source was Pinterest.

Today, most publishers have craft books that are very focused on one particular craft, such as, popsicle stick characters or rubber band bracelets. Toy and craft companies create kits where children make what is in the kit with all the materials provided for the project. There seems to be a connection missing somewhere. The creative component has been left out of the equation. Where is the experimentation? Where are the mistakes? Where is the trying of new ideas?

For several years, I have taught a Winter After School Enrichment class called Summer Arts and Crafts. Everything we make incorporates recycled items. Everything the students create is very open ended. I explain all the many ways that they can create projects using other recyclable materials from around their own homes.

The current craft nonfiction books that children can choose are well and good. I just think that there should be a few more books that lead students to think about what they want to create, rather than just telling them what to make.

A few new titles that I love are:
Martha Stewart's Favorite Crafts for Kids: 175 Projects for Kids of All Ages to Create, Build, Design, Explore and Share
by Editors of Martha Stewart Living
Potters Craft June 2013

Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children's Storytelling 
by Emily K. Neuburger
Storey Publishing August 2012

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff 
by Scott Bedford
Workman Publishing Company May 2013


Ms. Yingling said...

My favorite was Miss Patches Learns to Sew, written by none other than Carolyn Meyer! I was enthralled with the pear bunnies in the Betty Crocker children's cookbook, but was never given access to canned pears. Thanks for sharing these!

Alicia said...

I really enjoyed this post. I loved seeing the covers of the old books. I agree that the kits now are so polished that there is often less room for creativity. Makes me want to get out my sewing machine and let my kids learn a thing or two!