In this original, richly illuminating study of the aesthetic development of children in their primary learning years, Ellen Handler Spitz returns us to the vibrant experience of childhood to explain how the imagination emerges and develops. She looks at how children feel, sense, and relate to what is around them, and she examines the unlimited imaginative dimensions of their everyday experiences.
Spitz makes clear that in a young child’s mind there are no distinctions between art and nature, between reality and make-believe: every encounter—looking at a blade of grass, watching Bambi, decorating a bedroom—is experienced in both a child’s private world and a domain of shared adventure. By exploring the sensory, perceptual, and imaginative lives of children, Spitz shows how this aesthetic growth intersects with emotional development and how, by carefully observing what holds their attention, we can not only promote children’s growth but also learn from them, rediscovering our own world through their wide-open eyes.
This remarkable book will be required reading for parents, child-care professionals, and educators—for anyone interested in the seeds of the young imagination and the life of the young mind.
“An enthralling guide to life-enhancing parenting.”
—E. D. Hirsch, author of Cultural Literacy
“This is the tome I would want to carry to the mountaintop, for it shouts all my deepest passions: it is all about sparking the aesthetic imagination of the young child, through careful attention to the quiet and the beautiful all around.”
—Barbara Mahany, Chicago Tribune
“An eloquent celebration of the power of children's imagination when they are encouraged to discover the world of nature and the arts at their own pace. . . . The best possible advice for parents who want to raise a self-confident, creative child.”
—Judith Wallerstein, author of What About the Kids? Raising Children Before, During and After Divorce
“This book will touch your soul, stir up joyous memories of your own childhood, and turn you into a child's best partner in adventure and discovery of the world.”
—Dr. Alla Efimova, Chief Curator, The Magnes Museum
Visit Ellen Handler Spitz's official website for news updates, speaking engagements, links, and more.
Ellen Handler Spitz is a professor in the Honors College and Department of Visual Arts at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The author of Inside Picture Books, she has written and lectured extensively on children’s aesthetic and psychological development. A visual artist and dancer, she has taught at Columbia, Stanford, and New York University, among other academic institutions. She lives in Baltimore.