Children are natural artists, but as parents we often don’t know how to respond to their art because we are not mind readers and because as adults we have already developed our own definition of how art must look like. So we might end up being too judgmental or compliment them in a condescending manner.
I love books like ‘Ish’ reviewed for ST by Ranjani because it teaches the adult to appreciate a child’s art and not the reverse.
My book picks that help adults to better understand the whole creative process and appreciate children’s art are:
By Nandini Nayar art Vishwajyoti Ghosh
Published by Tulika
The story opens with Pranav sitting at his desk with a piece of paper, holding a paintbrush. To a casual observer who blindly forwards and lands in the last page, all Pranav has managed to do is to draw ‘just a blue line’. But if you read the book, we are privy to Pranav’s extraordinary imagination. Within six pages, that takes less than 30 seconds for an adult to thumb through, Pranav has managed to imagine a giraffe about to eat grass, but really didn’t because a horse ate all the giraffe’s grass, leaving the giraffe in tears. Meanwhile a boy mounts the horse and gallops to his house, a house with A-line roof, one door and two windows to be specific, gets in to bed and goes to sleep, which is depicted by the blue line.
Pranav ends up teaching us a valuable lesson, sometimes there is more to what you see and adults have to respect the process and not the product.
Harold And The Purple Crayon
By Crockett Johnson
Another reason I fell in love with Pranav is because he reminds me of my all time favorite Harold of Harold And The Purple Crayon. That Harold….with his blue pajamas and his purple crayon he is such a riot.
If he wants to walk on something he makes his own straight path and then realizes that a straight path is no fun because it leads no where. He wants excitement so he makes his own adventure like walking in to a forest, creating a scary dragon and ends up getting scared by his own imagination. Half way in to his adventures, Harold realizes that he wants to go home and the rest of his adventure is getting himself home. Harold is frantically trying to find the window of his bedroom in the hundreds of windows that he drew. Then he realizes that his window is ‘always right around the moon’. Sounds like the Akbar-Birbal story in which the guy looses his golden ring some place but is looking under the street light because there is plenty of light under the street light right?! This is the thinking process of a preschool child. Because of their limited life experiences and cognition, they often distort reality in order to fit what is happening to them. Harold is Piaget's pre-operational child, to the T.
By Peter H Reynolds
Walker Books Ltd
Suddenly at the age of five or six, because their thought process is becoming more concrete, because children are looking for logic instead of warping reality to fit what they know, the creative process takes a hit. When you give them a paper, put them on the spot and ask them to draw all they can draw is a blank. Then comes the whining, ‘But, but….. I don’t know what to draw. Can you help me?’ That’s it. The adult then rolls his/her sleeves, either demonstrates or gives ideas and the art transforms to the adult’s art. It is no longer the child’s. As a parent or as a teacher what do you do? How do you encourage the child to create?
Peter H Reynolds tackles this in his The Dot. The teacher in this book, looks at Vashti’s blank paper and asks her if it is a polar bear in a snow storm! She then encourages Vashti to make a mark. This leads Vashti to create a gallery full of paintings.
My children have read these books countless times because in their little minds, all that Pranav, Harold and Vashti do makes perfect sense and it is F.U.N!