The magic of imagination and why it’s important
Many authors write about magic. In my book series The Dragonsdome Chronicles, magic peoples the world of the Seven Sea Kingdoms with familiar figures from sagas, myths and legends. But it is my imagination, fed by my passion for animals, history, the armed forces and native American culture which combine to make my dragon stories unique.
Reading about the lives and experiences of others opens our minds to new possibilities.
We all love reading about magic because we desire to escape from the mundane world of day-to-day living. We wish we could fly away on our own dragon, wave a magic wand and make that irritating problem or person just disappear. But magic does exist in our world: the magic of imagination. Imagination inspires our books, songs, poems, art, movies and music. Characters in a book become as familiar as friends and family; new worlds and fantastical creatures populate our quiet moments and dreams.
Research suggests that reading together not only creates strong familial bonds, but also stimulates the mind and imagination, and helps children to build key literacy, language and social skills. Reading about the lives and experiences of others opens our minds to new possibilities. Children who read challenging, age appropriate books go on to be more successful and creative across all walks of life.
Our children’s imagination will affect all our futures, so we need to invest in it. NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield is a good example of someone who pursued his childhood dream. Even when there was no Canadian space programme, and the International Space Station was the stuff of science fiction, graphic novels like Space Adventures planted the seeds of his ambition. “I read... kind of voraciously,” Hadfield says. “Just letting those good writers help my imagination stretch and soar.”
Schools must allow time for reading for its own sake.
I believe that reading and imagination should be at the heart of our school’s curriculum. We must build and sustain a culture of reading in schools, libraries and clubs where we encourage children to read widely. Schools today, with the demands placed on them by exams, targets and league tables, arguably leave little time for imagination. Yet without opportunities to read for pleasure, the dreams and ambitions of the next generation will never be realized, and society will be poorer for it. Schools must allow time for reading for its own sake.
Some quick, fun exercises to stretch your imagination
Imagination needs to be constantly exercised. Here are some fun activities for all ages to get you started.
Imagine you are in your favourite place in the world. Close your eyes. Relax. Think about what you feel, see, hear and smell when you are there.
Some Native Americans participate in a naming ceremony, where they get a new name which reflects the person they have become as they’ve grown up. Imagine what name you would give yourself and why. Your new name can be based on a personality trait, or it might be an animal you connect with. You can extend this to family and friends – what would their new names be?
Pretend to be somebody else; maybe a friend, a sister or somebody from history... What are you wearing? What did you do today? Where do you live?
Imagine you are going to write a book. What would you write in your first paragraph to make the reader want more?
If you were a dragon, what breed would you be? Are you carnivorous or vegetarian, small or large? What colour are you? The only limit here is your imagination.