Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule

Book cover source: Amazon.com

If you ask me, I’ll say we live in a time of ‘maximumism’ – the complete opposite of minimalism. Even the toys and games we buy for our kids are based on the principle of ‘the more, the better’. And when I say more, it’s just not the quantity, but also price. A flashy, shiny toy that shares the same price tag as a kitchen gadget or a designer outfit seems like a better play thing for our child than a simple, handmade toy that can be bought for pennies or created at home. Is this trend good? Does it stimulate a child to think and innovate? Does it show that we love our kids more? Believe me, my answers to these may not be what many parents would like to hear at this moment.

It’s probably because I don’t subscribe to the idea of a toy box overflowing with toys that a child isn’t even going to play with after three days of fiddling around that I liked reading Amanda Blake Soule’s The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections’. As I nurture my own baby with creativity, ingenuity and simplicity, this book helps me chart out my thoughts about the kind of toys I want to hand my child, the games we shall play, the stories, art and life that’ll go into crafting a young life full of wonder. We, as new parents can try and its sumptuous books like these that fill us with ideas and hope. Hope that television isn’t the answer to boredom, that toys are just not supposed to inundate the senses with their flashiness that creative play and family time can be about so much more.

Here is a book that you can go back to again and again, to revisit a favourite chapter, to gather ideas, to seek inspiration or to enjoy it all over again. Divided into four parts: Gathering, Playing, Living and Connecting, each section has rituals, activity ideas, simple but stimulating toy suggestions and lifestyle ideas that can be easily rolled out into your own life.

Whether you want to make toys with natural materials or are debating about the quantity vs. quality of toys, looking for ways to convert things around the house and yard into play material, this book has interesting ideas for you to choose from. From ways to encourage imagination to supporting a budding artist at home, teaching them the tradition of handmade to creating everyday rituals, exploring nature to celebrating family life, Soule’s practical, hands on approach fills you up with excitement about the possibility of creativity with your kids. What I also enjoyed about this book is that the activities don’t require a bucket-load of raw material or art supplies, and the ideas are based on the principle of simplicity, innovation and treading gently on the earth.

Also, the fact that Amanda Blake Soule, a mother bringing up 5 kids of her own, has written about things that she does regularly with her children, makes it even more interesting and practice-worthy.

Amazon stocks this book and author Amanda has an interesting blog you can cruise over to.

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