Unstructured Play Time! Go for it!

It looks like all I’ve got time for these days is passing on links… Oh well…

Here’s another good one though, “The Genius of Unstructured Summer Time” on the New York Times site.  One of the things that irks me most about modern parenting trends is the need for constant curriculum – not just during school hours, but now bleeding into all available free time, early mornings, evenings, weekends, holidays, summer time… (As well as into the very early years of toddlerhood and infancy: witness expanding kindergarten hours, full-curriculum daycares, computer lapware for babies!)

What would unprogrammed time look like? Is it so bad that they might get a little bored? Learning how to entertain themselves might be one of the most useful skills they can develop.

We spend so much time trying to instill the love of reading in our children, but when the heck are they supposed to read for enjoyment when we keep them hopping every hour of the week?

The space and time to just think… that is where true creativity can spring forth. Dare we let them follow their hearts, in their own time and in whatever direction it leads them?


Yertle the Turtle too political for BC school

Well this just depresses me.

Yertle the Turtle quote banned from B.C. school.  (c/o Huffington Post)

Think about the rather limiting definition of “political” here. It would seem to preclude any lessons about interpersonal power relationships, equal rights, humanitarianism, civics, ethics… Yeah, all bad stuff. The Golden Rule should probably get pitched as well.

Besides, what exactly is controversial about the quote? Is it or is it not true that those on the bottom (of socio-economic or any other kind of scale) have the same rights as those at the top?

And muzzling teachers. Always good for a school system. Bravo.

(The only thing to like about this story is how relevant Dr. Seuss still is.)

What Planet Is My Child On?

A question I ask myself frequently these days. Apologies if this seems out in left field, but as I was watching this video – John Cleese talking about creativity – I suddenly thought about my little lunatic and realized that she simply operates in the ‘open’ mode while I live my life in the ‘closed’ mode!

It’s a little long, but watch this and you’ll see what I mean: John Cleese on Creativity

So… the next time my daughter drifts off into orbit, I’ll try not to snap her out of it so soon.

Inactivity… with an excuse

Many apologies for lack of posts this week. Home reno makes life so interesting, er, I mean difficult! Will return to my desk when kitchen and basement no longer in a total shambles and massive yard sale over and done with – hopefully next week. (?)

Free Chaplin films online

Man oh man I wish I had more time to explore free movies online! Here’s a terrific source of Charlie Chaplin films, thanks to the good people at opensource.com.

Many shorts listed, as well as feature-length films. On this blog I have reviewed City Lights (1931, good for 6+), and The Gold Rush(1925, good for 5+).

Introduce your child to a genius of the silent screen!

Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady


Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady

Selina Hastings, text

Juan Wijngaard, illustrations

Walker Books, 1985

24 pp.

Age: 8+

Interests: knights, King Arthur, medieval history, magic

Next: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by same author/illustrator

Also: Saint George and the Dragon, The Kitchen Knight: a Tale of King Arthur, and Merlin and the Making of the King, all by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman


Snow White in New York


Snow White in New York

Fiona French

Oxford University Press, 1986

32 pp.

Age: 7+

Interests: updated fairy tales, New York, 1920s flapper era, art styles, fashion

Next: Ella’s Big Chance (a Cinderella update also set in the 1920s)


Hiawatha’s Childhood


Hiawatha’s Childhood

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Errol Le Cain, illustrations

Faber and Faber, 1984

30 pp.

Age: 3

Interests: poetry, nature, First Nations, birds, animals

Also by this illustrator: The Cabbage Princess, Thorn Rose, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Snow Queen, The Enchanter’s Daughter, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and many others


“Geek Dad” book list

Here’s a list of favourite kids’ books from “Geek Dad”: “67 Books Every Geek Should Read to Their Kids Before Age 10”. A pretty good, eclectic list, though of course very subjective.

I enjoyed scanning through this, and I’m always looking for titles I’ve never heard of. It’s particularly useful because it often includes age recommendations. More useful would have been to group them by ages, but that’s just me…

While I do like this one, I have to say I’m getting a little fed up with these “bucket lists” and “must do” lists. You know, the ubiquitous “1001 books to read/places to see/songs to hear/etc before you die” lists. Seems to be the favourite way to pad out a shopping list into a book.

p.s. After a brief labour disruption, my library has just reopened, so I’ll be able to get back to book reviews! Stay tuned…

Margaret Wise Brown

Here’s an interesting Slate article about Goodnight Moon author Margaret Wise Brown, “Do Childish People Write Better Children’s Books?” by Katie Roiphe.

Re. Roiphe’s question, I’d have to read more about Brown to find out how she did it*, but it seems to me that being truly childish would help in the inspiration and writing part, but the attendant lack of discipline and application would make financial/career success  kind of unlikely.

Especially today. The market for children’s content is massive, as Print and Media toil in service of the great god Merchandising. As the dollars flow in, writing for children is no longer seen as a less-than-serious pursuit. Lucre leads to respect, et voilà! Suddenly everyone has an idea for a picture book or fantasy series. This intense competition makes it less likely that any but the most driven and ambitious (ie. least child-like) might actually succeed in having a children’s book published.

At any rate, Ms. Brown was a real character – read the article. Despite her bunny books she enjoyed rabbit hunting, and once told a Life reporter:

Well, I don’t especially like children, either. At least not as a group. I won’t let anybody get away with anything just because he is little.

– Margaret Wise Brown


* Another interesting question would be: how do we, as adults, define “childishness”? (Flighty? Selfish? Innocent? Silly?) Another can of worms for another day…

All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.