What if…..Your Child’s Imagination Could Soar!

by Dads for Creativity

Nat Reading Turtle 16.9

Reading a story with your child, watching a movie together or listening to music with them all have the potential to take your child’s creative thinking skills to a new level.

Then by encouraging your child to respond thoughtfully to what they have read, heard or seen – you can also nurture the development of their imagination.

Asking your child, “What did you think about a book or movie?” often evokes a response such as, “It was good,” or “I didn’t really like it.”

When your kids are ready – my colleague Matthew Worwood suggests that you encourage your kids to take the next step: ask them how they would improve upon “the model” – in this case, what they have read (books), seen (movies) or heard (music).


If they are unsure of how they might improve upon someone else’s creation – try to engage them in a discussion that will prompt some responses.

My daughter recently finished a book that she didn’t like. When I asked what she didn’t like about it she said, “The ending.” This provided a great opportunity to go to the next level of analysis in an imaginative and playful mode.

I asked her, “If you could change the ending – what would you do?”

Sir Ken Robinson points out an important distinction between creativity and imagination in his groundbreaking book, “The Element.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Essentially it is about using creativity to find your true purpose – or element:

Finding Your Element

According to Robinson, imagination deals with thinking of something that is not there. So after Natalie finished reading the book, h20 the two of us tried to imagine a different and better ending. (Creativity, by the way, then involves doing something meaningful with your imagination.)

A great way to jumpstart the imaginative juices in your kids is to play a game of “What if….”

For example:

-What if at the end of the movie, E.T. – Elliot decides to leave on the spaceship with E.T.!

The possibilities are endless. As my colleague and school librarian Cara McConnell points out:

-What if at the end of The Giving Tree – he plants a new tree.

-What if at the end of Cinderella – the shoe doesn’t fit.

-What if at the end of Green Eggs and Ham – he doesn’t like them.

Be attentive to your child’s responses to books and movies and songs – and take the time to help them go beyond their initial responses.

This activity can provide wonderful opportunities for the two of you to engage in explorations that will broaden their imagination and further develop their creative thinking skills.

Dads for Creativity

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Cara September 10, 2015 - 9:41 pm

I love this post! There are so many times I will rewrite the ending of a story in my mind to better suit my heart’s desire! (Full disclosure: the boy must get the girl for me to be happy!)

Matthew Worwood September 14, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Jonathan, I really enjoy reading about the stories between you and Natalie. I note how often reading comes up I your discussions, I think there’s not enough conversation on ‘why’ it’s important to read. Yes it’s develops important academic skills, but I believe thr way books engage the imagination and offer up new discoveries is one of the building blocks to creative thinking, and this piece offers ideas on how parents can improve upon that more.

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