Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Picture Books that Celebrate Imagination (for Girls)

Karma Wilson’s Princess Me recently inspired me to research other great books that celebrate imagination and creativity.  I have already posted some of my favorites for little boys.   Here are my favorites for little girls. 

Princess Me (ages 3-8) by Karma Wilson
Beautiful watercolor paintings illustrate a young girl’s imaginative life as a princess.  In her room, she wears her royal attire with a play castle as her backdrop.  Her stuffed animals are ladies in waiting, the teddy bear is a knight, other toys are courtiers, and her parents act as the king and queen. Using rhythmic and rhyming poetic lines, the daily joys of her imaginative kingdom life are describe as kind, faithful, graceful, and cheerful.  

Why I Chose It:  It celebrates and affirms a dream most little girls have:  to be a princess.  At its core, it is really just immolates everyone’s desire to feel important. The language and illustrations are wonderful!  My favorite part is the end though.  As the little girl is being tucked in for the night, the question is asked: "Who is this girl? I wonder who..." On the last page, it says "Princess You.”  It is not just about the little girl in the book, but rather, the little girl listening to the story is a princess too. 

Amazing Grace (ages 5-9) by Mary Hoffman
Grace is inspired by the stories she reads and hears.  She loves to act them out—whether she is Joan of Arc, Anansi the Spider, or Hiawatha the Indian.  When the class has try outs for the school production of Peter Pan, Grace wants the lead role.  Her classmates tell her that she cannot be Peter Pan because she is a girl and because she is black.  It does not stop Grace though.  With a little inspiration from her family, she successfully lands the part and defies expectations.  

Why I Chose It:  I love that Grace does not allow stereotypes to discourage her.  Her imaginative play and exploration helped her overcome those barriers and succeed in her goal. 

Alice the Fairy (ages 3-7) by David Shannon
When Alice puts on her fairy costume, her imagination takes her on many humorous and creative adventures.  With her magic wand, she can change her dad into a horse and his cookies into her own to eat.  She also causes leaves to fall from the trees and draws pictures in the water.   She can even make herself disappear!  Since she is not a “permanent” fairy, she has some limitations.  Alice doesn’t mind though.  She is perfectly happy being a “Temporary fairy forever.”  

Why I Chose It:  This narrative artistically captures child-like enthusiasm and wit.  The pictures and story font compliment the text well.  You just can’t help but to smile as you read it. 
Lily Brown’s Paintings (ages 4-8) by Angela Johnson
Lily loves to create whimsical works of art.  Her vibrant pictures bring the stars down to sidewalk cafés to hang out and embellish trees with hats and shoes as they drink tea.  Exploring her imaginative world, Lily sails through fields of red corn and walks in a park where alligators are on the phone.  The text comes full circle as she “returns” to the real world to the people she adores:  her mother, father, and baby brother.  

Why I Chose It:  Most of the pictures appear as if a child painted them.  They are inventive and entertaining.   This story illustrates how children can use art to foster their imaginations and creativity.

Someday (ages 5-11) by Eileen Spinelli
This inspiring book contrasts a young girl’s “someday” with “today.”  Each daily experience is seen as practice for her future dreams.   For instance, she says “Someday I will dig for dinosaur bones…Today I am digging for coins under the sofa cushions.”  Written in free-verse poetic form, this first person narrative dares to imagine a life being an artist, riding the dolphins, digging for dinosaur bones, having tea at the White House, becoming an animal scientist, and achieving Olympic gold in gymnastics.   

Why I Chose It:  Of all the books, this one is most appealing to older girls.  The narrator dreams big but has realistic aspirations. 

Other Great Imaginative Books:
Goldilicious (ages 3-7) by Victoria Kann
This story is the third in a series of imaginative books.  In Goldilicious, the little girl has an imaginary unicorn.   Together, they dance, roller skate, have a tea party, and play hide and seek.  Eventually, even her younger brother gets involved in the fun! 

What Shall We Play (ages 2-5) by Sue Heap
Three preschool aged children take turns leading imaginative play as trees, cars, cats, Jell-o, and eventually fairies. 

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