Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Liz Garton Scanlon on Why We Should Think Big

By Liz Garton Scanlon
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

A few years back, I realized that we often mean only two or three things when we talk to kids about art -- certainly painting and drawing, perhaps sculpture, maybe music.

We mean “art-that’s-the-kind-the-art-teacher-teaches”. Which is both awesome and true, but also limited. What about photography? What about dance?

What about knitting or writing or acting or cooking?

When I wrote Think Big (Bloomsbury, 2012), that's what I wanted to play with. I wanted to say to kids, "All of your creative ideas and experiences? Those are art!"

And the great thing about saying that to kids is, they respond with, "Okay, then, let's do it, let's make some!" whereas a grown-up audience might say, "Right, yes, those things are all art. But not for me. artists do art."

As adults, we've learned that there aren't limits on types or kinds of art, but we proceed to limit ourselves, our possibilities, our attempts. We tend to stop trying new forms of art and, when we do dabble, we’re self-deprecating about it.

Kids are a lot bolder and braver in this than we are.

Courtesy of Liz Garton Scanlon; used with permission.
During my school visits, I ask kids how many of them are writers, how many of them are artists, and you know how many raise their hands? Almost all of them!

I want that to continue, past kindergarten and second grade, past fifth grade and through middle school and on into high school. I would love to speak to an adult audience and see everyone raise their hands!

Liz on ALA 2010
Not because we necessarily need more paintings on the museum walls or performances in Carnegie Hall or even new five-star restaurants, but because we as people are really fed by our own creative expression.

Making art can energize us, can help us heal, can feel like play, can provide a way to process things, can bring us joy.

I hope that this book is just a teeny tiny playful reminder of that — who wouldn’t want to be part of that group of wily kids (and cat!) that Vanessa Newton’s illustrations brought to life? It’s just kind of a giddy rollick!

In the meantime, I’m going back to my desk.

With a big breath and a brave heart...

Cynsational Giveaway

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Vonna said...

Great post. Fear of rejection can bury our creative impulses. We all need to learn to raise our hands.

Elizabeth Stevens Omlor said...

Amazing post. Just reading about our fear to think of ourselves as creative in Jonah Lehrer's IMAGINE. How freeing to be young and without inhibitions! Can't wait to get my own copy of THINK BIG! Thanks so much!

Kristi Valiant said...

I love Vanessa's illustrations, and can't wait to hear Liz next year at an SCBWI conference. Looks like a book I'll definitely need to check out.

JoyCorcoran said...

This looks like a wonderful book. Keeping the creative spirit alive all through life is a challenge, but books like this will help. I look forward to reading it and passing it on to kids and adults.

Redheaded Stepchild said...

Looks like a great book. And I LOVE anything Vanessa illustrates.

annm said...

it's the next BIG thing from Liz Scanlon! Can't wait to put it on display at the library so the kids can take it home and share share share!!!

Katie said...

All the World is my favorite picture book - can't wait to read this one, it looks fantastic!

Linda said...

Think Big sounds like a wonderful addition for my classroom library. So many kids think they aren't creative, but they really are. I think this book might help them see there are many ways to be creative!

Liz Doyle said...

So anxious to read your latest, Liz! Looking forward to having you sign copies for our grandchildren when we see you this summer at the lake! Love, Buffy

mary kinser said...

I love All the World - this one looks awesome too!

Darshana said...

Beautiful message about expanding the scope of art to kids. Looking forward to reading this book!

Darshana said...

Sounds like a wonderful book.
Look forward to reading it!

Kari said...

Excited to check out Liz's latest! (I'm sure I'll love it!)
Reminds me of reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind- how important creativity is in our lives.