“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” Albert Einstein once told an interviewer. “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Stretching a child’s imagination through reading does so much more than entertain them. It engages them, inspires them, and prepares them for life. Imagination is the foundation of creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. It also supports personal growth and social-emotional development. If we can’t envision success, it becomes infinitely more difficult to maintain the motivation needed to reach a long-term goal. Meanwhile, the ability to imagine how another person feels is what makes us compassionate and empathetic. (And reading fiction directly builds empathy, too.)
The fast pace of modern life doesn’t always leave much time or energy for creative play, however. Kids can be too overscheduled, overwhelmed, or exhausted to stretch their imaginations when they get home. But you can spur your child’s imagination (and help them soar away from everyday routine or troubles) simply by reading picture books to them. Reading to children triggers higher activity in the area of the brain responsible for cultivating mental images, among other things. And, really, what’s more absorbing than getting drawn into a magical, fantastical, or wonderfully wacky story?
To help, we’ve curated a selection of twelve diverse, modern fairy tales and whimsical picture books that foster imagination and encourage kids to expand their point of view.
Books for Advanced or Older Readers:
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