Building the Imagination Muscle

By Harry Kraus, MD

Author of A Zebra Tale

If we want Kenya to be on the cutting edge of science, medicine, engineering, art, education, and theology, we have to capture the hearts of our children.  And what is a primary building block of all of these areas? IMAGINATION!

In the age of competition with Hollywood and video games, this is a difficult task. TV, movies, and video games present passive images to our children, doing little to stimulate the imagination.

Our passive entertainment conglomerates have spent billions to convince us of their value; the truth is, they do little to benefit the ones they entertain. Reading, on the other hand, will strengthen the imagination and set the child up for a lifetime of imaginative thinking.

Reading is all about strengthening the imagination.  As the child reads a paragraph about a sailing vessel, for example, he or she begins to picture this sailing ship in their mind’s eye. This is what building our imagination muscle is all about. To strengthen this muscle, we must pass a love of reading to our children.

When the imagination is strong, people become creative in their approach to solving problems and reaching solutions…and it all starts with reading.

For this to work, we can’t just force-feed our children a diet of factual textbooks to memorize; they have to be given STORY. Story is how we live our lives. Reading stories helps create emotional bonds between reader and character, and as characters solve problems, solutions to the readers own problems present themselves in a non-threatening way.

It’s a wonderful and fun process. Reading fiction can take you anywhere; no ticket required! I’d suggest starting early, reading to your children with books with colorful illustrations. Later, encourage them to continue reading by checking out chapter-books at the local school library. Of course, they also could purchase their own copies of youth books, such as A Zebra Tale.