The Joy of Creating with Kids

Last week I wrote about why you should create something with your kids as soon as possible.

In my family the kids and I bond over the creative process of writing books. We talk about potential plots, we talk about the characters and how ‘bad’ should the villains be, or what their secrete hideout should look like.

Yes, the focus of many of the plots for these books are girls being awesome at science, technology, and STEM. But every plot is about creativity, right vs wrong, and problem solving. The exercise of out-thinking the reader and figuring out a way to draw each story to a nice conclusion, is quite a challenge. One thing the kids and I end up discussing quite a bit is how with Celia and Anna catch the criminal.

Back in December, I was struggling with a critical plot turn in Book 1. In my mind the FBI raids the villain’s layer. But what happens then? I was stuck on this point. It needed to be something interesting, they could not just walk in and say, “come with us.” And then lead the criminal away in hand cuffs. Something more interesting had to happen. My kids and I were talking about all of the possible scenarios. Then we discussed why each would be fun, crazy, likely, unlikely etc.

Then my daughter said, “Then a cage lands on Rachel Stone, and a bunch of purple glitter explodes all over her.”

“A cage?” I said, “like at the zoo?”

“Yes, exactly like that only it is the kind that you can travel with.” she said with confidence.

“Why do they put her in a cage?” I asked.

“Because she is bad, and the cage will keep her from escaping. We all know she is very tricky,” came the confident response.

“And what’s up with the glitter?” I asked.

All of my children laughed and laughed at the idea of the criminal being en-caged and covered in glitter. There was something about the glitter that they found absolutely hilarious, even though they could not explain why.

Their pure emotional reaction to the glitter stuck with me, and it made it into that scene in the book. I decided not to use the cage part of the scenario, mainly for practical reasons. -How did they transport the cage? — How did it drop from the ceiling? — did it have a bottom?

But the glitter, that was pure gold

Now, as the final copy of the book is being edited and almost ready for publishing, that detail is in the story. And my daughter created it. As I read the final draft with her, she was SO PROUD that her idea and creation was in the book, for everyone to read. She created something so original, and valuable that her dad validated it by including it in a real book. That is the kind of empowerment I want her to build on her whole life. Ultimately I want to teach her that she does not need my validation, or anyone else’s before she can create something original. But as a step towards that, I know this is powerful and wonderful for her.

That is just one example. One little bit of awesomeness among thousands you and your kids can experience as you build something original.

Please tell me about what you are doing. I am so excited to learn about your awesome projects!

Thank you!

-Justin