books The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family ConnectionsAuthor Amanda Blake Soule –

I struggled with this book I wanted to love it I love the ideas that are in the book, but I couldn t love the book All of the ideas are Waldorf inspired, but I feel like the book was lacking a bit in execution If Good Reads gave half stars it would be a 3.5 star book 5 for ideas and a 2.5 for practicality.As with many Waldorf type books leading an art based and nature centric life is wonderful, but it is very difficult for those of us who either have to or chose to work full time to incorporate all of the lifestyle ideas presented in this book While other Waldorf books come even heavy handed than Ms Soule s the we do it this way theme still prevails too much Many of her ideas, Fairy Houses Art Based Education Nature Tables Felting and Knitting are straight from Waldorf Teacher Training, but she did a good job of keeping the Waldorf anthroposophy portion out of the book which turns many people away from an otherwise excellent educational method I commend her for bringing these ideas to a broader audience.My problems with the book are the repeated themes of use only the best supplies, which I guess also takes away some of the fun of spontaneous arts crafts for Children grab what ever is available and work with it versus use only the good stuff to get better results Which, I really don t think is the goal Ms Soule intended, and frankly, I love my children, I love the art they create they are not getting my Moleskine notebooks Last comment is the fact that I wish the book was practical about getting creativity into your life if you are a working family or a family that doesn t home un school Working a full time job leaves me exhausted at the end of the day, so how to bring creativity into my family when you are tired and cranky How to show your children you can do bothwork and live creativelyhow to bring nature into your home even if you work and live in a major city are all themes that could have been further explored.Really a good book, but not the book I had hoped for Seriously wish there were half stars because 4 stars is too many and 3 is not really enough to give this good book. This was a mixed experience for me I d like to be all positive about it, and I support the essence of what is said in it But hmHere s the thing There s great ideas and suggestions in this little book to inspire creativity within a family, with a focus on children However, the author s tone of voice too often grated in my ears Downside The author s I am saved like tone of voice That s a turn off for me, although others might not mind it so much She comes across too often as one of those people who cannot comprehend what the h they did before they had kids as if life didn t start before then thus, trumpeteering a I am saved a Real Woman approach that just doesn t work for me And, no, I am not saying this because I am a man I know women my wife included who feel the same.Which brings me to The specific suggestions for creativity No doubt they are good see also Upside later , but way too much is on sewing, embroiding, knitting, clothing and suchlike And, okay, that may be because I am a man but I nonetheless expected this book to be usable for any person regardless of gender But I find it too onesided here albeit not entirely, i.e Upside.By her examples I get the impression that I do not agree with her on some basic elements of raising kids Which may be me reading too much into a few remarks, but as it is this also annoyed me This, of course, isn t that important in terms of what the book aims at, since I just have to ignore those aspects and focus on the specific suggestions for creative endeavours instead.Another but minor annoyance is the whole Back to Nature approach permeating the book I agree with the basic sentiments, and she does admit that not all have the opportunity to do it as much as she herself likes to, but the almost religious tone of it puts me off.Upside She covers a lot of ground in a fairly well rounded manner which helps a parent or a parent to be, as the case is, hehe being aware of a lot things otherwise easy to forget or stay unaware of That s very well done by Soule the author.Whenever she has a suggestion to sewing stuff, felting, henna painting or whatnot, she includes in easy to find sidebars recipes, so one can begin right away Well done just too bad too much of it wasn t that interesting to me There are good, simple ideas as how to approach daily routines concerning the inevitable issue of how to pack up the mess after a creative day of work, taking into account everything being part of the creativity process fine storing ideas excellent suggestions to what you can do to entwine creativity in a broad sense with the kids into the everyday life Lots of room in the book, in other words, to find inspiration I like Soule s approach to less can be in terms of a kid s storage in particular the connection this has with quality For instance, it s not important that a child has 1,000 coloring pencils for if they are of low quality the colors will fade soon after it s better to have, say, 10 good quality pencils that really make the painting or whatnot stand out and stays like that for years It s important to learn kids the value of longterm quality, and to do so, I think, in such a subtle way is a nice touch worth considering.So, there you have it Some things I like, some I don t That s the basis for my medium grading Hopefully my review can then help you decide if you want to go and purchase this book or go look somewhere else, knowing that what I don t like you may like quite a bit Reading this book, I was so incredibly inspired by Soule and her parenting philosophy Soule s basic idea is that as parents we need to foster imagination and creativity in our children s lives We need to do it because the ability to be creative is innate in every child, and it is through the use of this creativity, or their imaginations, that they learn to express themselves, to communicate with the world and with each other, and to become both confident and nurturing When Soule speaks of our creative side she is addressing so much than the act of making things with cloth, paint, or glue She says, a large part of nurturing a spirit of creativity comes from being mindful, slowing down, observing, and looking around you at the beauty and inspiration all around We are blessed as parents to have the best teachers for this our children Stop and watch your children often Really stop and watch, and you ll see them using such creativity in everything they do a toddler picking dandelions, a young child making something out of blocks they inherently work and play with creativity, intent, and imagination What a wonderful way to look at our children, and at the world around us Don t we all wish we could take Soule s advice and slow down a little What makes that hard to do is time Something there is never enough of But Soule addresses that Much of our cultural energy is spent filling our minds, hearts, and time with things outside our families, she says While all the external events and energy are wonderful, it is often forgotten that the home and family can be a tremendous source of balance, happiness, inspiration, and creativity In order to avoid the trap of time, Soule suggests that we plan our creative projects into our schedules She mentions gathering her children together each morning to discuss the day s creative projects and block out the time for them She says, In the same way that we plan the appointments and self care we need in our lives, we also need to plan for the creative projects that are important to us As with anything else in our lives, if it is a priority we will make the time for it.One way to help us prioritize is to realize the importance of setting examples of creative living for our children Soule believes that Imaginative living needn t and shouldn t be limited to childhood, and it is our job to tell our children through our actions that their imaginations are something they can use, rely on, and find comfort in throughout their lives Shortly after reading those words I took my children to a small art museum, each armed with a pad of paper and a tin of colored pencils We had just finished learning about the color wheel and I asked them to look for examples of the color groupings we had talked about primary, secondary, complimentary Although my children are young 4, 6, and 8, they picked up their pencils and began to sketch away Slowly we wound our way through the museum and eventually ended outside in the gardens, sketching flowers It was at this point that I remembered what Soule said about setting an example for our children So I pulled out my own notebook, borrowed pencils from my children, and started sketching a small flower From the moment I pressed my pencil to the paper an inner dialogue started up in my head, This looks terrible You have no idea what you are doing Make sure nobody sees this And then my daughter popped her head over my shoulder Oh, Mom You are doing so good It made me wonder when I had lost my confidence I loved watching the sunlight flickering over the soft yellow petals When had I decided that it wasn t for me to create something from the feeling of wonder that the interplay of light, color, and texture inspired Somehow along the way I had learned that there was a right way, an only way, to be creative and I didn t know it.My children hadn t learned that yet They were happily and enthusiastically capturing the nodding flowers with purple, red, and yellow pencils I wanted them to always feel like there was a way for them to connect with beautiful things, and express what they were seeing and feeling I realized that first I would have to shed my own insecurities that we needed to all be creative together.Another recent epiphany I had that resonated with Soule s writing came last week when my daughter s pet goldfish died It was our first pet, and she had taken such good care of it, feeding it every day, helping me clean out its bowl once a week She was devastated And there was nothing I could do to comfort her or stop the tears Not until I suggested that we find a rock from the backyard and paint it We could put the fish s name on the rock and set it in the flower bed to help us remember it My daughter quickly set to work finding a rock and washing it off while I got out the paint supplies She put on her smock and forgot her tears as she became absorbed in painting her rock She made it orange to match her fish, and then I helped her write her fish s name on the top She carried her finished rock with her for the rest of the day before finally placing it in its spot in the garden I know that it was engaging in the creative process that brought my daughter the comfort she needed And working on that rock together, as mother and daughter, made the project even soothing and healing for her It was a wonderful example of everything that Soule talks about in her book It didn t require any intricate patterns or plans, any trips to the craft store, any expense Just imagination and time. i loved this book at first, then got to wondering if amanda blake soule ever does anything other than sew bunting, throw birthday parties for her kids imaginary friends, and breathlessly encourage them to pick up sticks and leaves does she ever do laundry, for example When You Learn To Awaken Your Family S Creativity, Wonderful Things Will Happen You Ll Make Meaningful Connections With Your Children In Large And Small Ways Your Children Will Often Engage In Their Own Creative Discoveries And Your Family Will Embrace New Ways To Relax, Play, And Grow Together With Just The Simple Tools Around You Your Imagination, Basic Art Supplies, Household Objects, And Natural Materials You Can Transform Your Family Life, And Have So Much Fun Amanda Soule Has Charmed Many With Her Tales Of Creativity And Parenting On Her Blog, SouleMama Here She Shares Ideas And Projects With The Same Warm Tone And Down To Earth Voice Perfect For All Families, The Wide Range Of Projects Presented Here Offers Ideas For Imaginative Play, Art And Crafts, Nature Explorations, And Family Celebrations This Book Embraces A Whole New Way Of Living That Will Engage Your Children S Imagination, Celebrate Their Achievements, And Help You To Express Love And Gratitude For Each Other As A Family I find myself making the same complaints about every instructional book I read sentence fragments, typos, too much preaching to the choir type filler material, too many annoyingly repeated words and turns of phrase for example, each and every , and the word gift used as a verb And yeah, this book wasn t really different Well, there were only a couple of sentence fragments But I still enjoyed it, snobbishness aside It s full of really interesting ideas, and I think I ll refer to it and as Isobel grows into those ideas I especially liked the chapters on displaying a child s artwork and capturing special moments, and the section on Craftivism Of course, not everything relates to me I m not particularly interested in knitting or embroidery But rather than making me feel guilty for not wanting to do these creative things with my children, the author presents them in a way that makes them seem approachable, at least, like if I wanted to, I could handle it She s very encouraging and enthusiastic, and really, most of the projects presented in this book are simple enough for even me They are, after all, intended for children. 27 June 2010 I m definitely enjoying this book, inspired by all of the creativity, and excited for when I can start putting some of the ideas into practice with my own family It s very well put together, very clear layout and writing, and I love all the pictures that are on almost every other page I actually wish they were on every page A couple of things that are niggling at me, things I m hoping will disappear or at least reduce if I talk about them, so that I can enjoy the book once I ve articulated the annoyances.1 The overuse of inverted commas They are especially noticeable in the captions of photos, where they are inappropriately and universally used and turn a regular sentence into one laden with, for instance, sarcasm One example is on page 45 A new pair of pants for Adelaide, from Papa s old shirt This description of a photo showing a pair of pants that have been made for a toddler out of a shirt that once belonged to her father, to my eyes, doesn t need the quote marks around old especially, although I can understand the desire to put them around new Another favourite is the caption for a tall dresser that holds art supplies in their dining room a free piece of furniture found by the side of the road not the exact quote By taking it you made it free That kind of thing is pretty hilarious to me.This is probably a pet peeve of mine, when people are quote mark happy, and if it occurred just a few times in this book, it probably would occasionally raise my shackles and I would get over it, but, because of the frequency of the use of beautiful, useful photographs, it happens, like I said, on every other page, and I feel in a state of perpetual annoyance Oh, it s good to be me 2 Another thing that bothers me slightly, or leaves me feeling unsatisfied, is the omnipresent Call To Nature in this book that is never really explained It is asserted as a final statement of life that children should be connected to the earth, and there is never any explanation as to why this might be a good thing, socially, psychologically, emotionally, physically, or intellectually The encouragement to be creative in one s family is qualified in all these ways, but not the invocation to connect children and ourselves with the origins of things I happen to agree with this philosophy in general we also primarily buy second hand stuff love natural i.e., ones that closely resemble their origins fibres and products are mostly vegetarian vegans are conscious about the ethics of how something is made transported grown grow our own vegetables buy at farmer s markets when we can spend a lot of time outdoors bike instead of drive if we can eat whole, unprocessed foods most of the time blah blah blah So what I think is bothering me is how this attitude to living is not explained It s not enough for me to hear someone state something as though it were a fundamental truth of life but not give evidence for why at least the asserter thinks this is so It s a kind of unreflexive, unquestioned thinking that is not consonant with the thirst for learning and discovering that s portrayed in the book itself I understand that this book isn t about scientific research and that it s not its purpose to provide even a bibliography for further study of this Back To Earth statement But the author doesn t offer any anecdotal evidence, even from her own family, of how this has improved their minds bodies spirits Of creativity s impact, yes Of using specifically handmade wooden knitting needles instead of acrylic No.I m about halfway through this book a lovely, gentle read, since I started it last night , and I m hoping that now I ve got these complaints out of my system I ll be able to approach the book with fresh eyes and see only the good stuff that I really love, so when I finish it, I will have a mostly positive review to write.5 July 2010 After finishing this last night, I think that I might purchase it to have ready access to its ideas I do think it is worth actually buying, especially since I plan on starting classes for children in the afternoons at our home There are several ideas in there that are appealing on their own like the Wall of Sound, felt crowns for birthdays and lots that are inspiring as a kind of springboard for further creativity.What other reviewers have said about the condescending tone is true, though, which is unfortunate especially since Soule s personal blog is absent of it I hadn t heard of her blog before picking up this book after checking out some of her recent posts I came to this conclusion There was one bit towards the end, I think in the chapter on celebrations, where it talks about how toasting your child s milestone or accomplishment can commemorate it in a simple but special way, and that you can even have the child give the little speech describing the cause for celebration Great idea It s followed up by a description of how, as the parents, it would be best to act after listening to the child cheer hip hurray , applaud , be enthusiastic Just in case you thought booing or greeting the child s speech with crickets was appropriate.One other thing and I m restraining myself, because I can think of about three other things that I d also like to write about but won t since I already feel like this review is negative than positive is the focus on the embroidery sewing journalling spectrum of creative activities in a family Perhaps the author isn t herself into woodwork carving robotics, but these are equally important manifestations of creativity that are not given a mention in the book, not even it seems in the further reading references pages.But honestly this kind of book is useful, and this book in particular is quite lovely I did like it Some parts of it made it not my favourite, but actually, since I m not a crafty person and there are SO MANY family craft books out there, this felt like a calm and gentle way for me to make a start, somewhere, anywhere, and to feel less intimidated by material of this genre. I like Soulemama s blog I like the devotion to her family and her craft Her book felt like her blog I like how passionate and creative she is about her home and family and how she incorporates nature into the craft projects she organizes with her kids It made me happy to read that a mom, inspired by the birth of her children and the growth of her family, was encouraged to make art for and with them I know lots of women who push their creative sides way down to the bottom of the priority list where it collects dust As an artist it does my heart good to hear that a busy mom can find a way to keep a house and still follow her creative urges If this book was on my bookshelf, I would probably pull it out for inspiration now and then when trying to think of something to do with my family I can t say that there were any projects in there that were all that new for me and I would have loved some new ideas but I enjoyed her photos and hearing her ideas I found the book as a whole to be a sort of reminder not to let these years when our children are young and have active imaginations slip away It was a how not to book as much as it was a how to book I think. This is a beautiful book, full of wonderful ideas for incorporating creativity into our own and our children s everyday lives I found many great ideas I m already using in my home, and it s really inspired me to consider the SPACE we play in and how to make it beautiful AND useful I always was a William Morris fan 0 I put up an art wire from which are dangling many of the kids projects, to their great pride and joy , boxed up a bunch of toys to rotate so that the shelves are uncluttered, took down a Monet print and in its frame put Zoe s original art, and created an entire art center out of a book shelf languishing in the garage I m LOVING the changes and so are the kids, and I can t wait to do It s so exciting when you find an author who makes you feel GRATEFUL that she wrote her book and her blog She also recommended a lot of her favorite books, so I should be busy for a while. How do I say this For starters, let s clarify that I really love Amanda s blog It is probably one of my three favorite craft blogs out there That said, I think the editor was a little too present in this book It promises Amanda s same warm tone as on her blog I didn t find this to be true There are times when you do hear Amanda but often it is muffled by editorial organization and phrasing.What did I love about the book The ideas, the details of family routines and traditions, advice for inspiring creativity and putting materials in easy reach and quick access for all ages, encouraging interaction between generations, and finding a place to be you I will keep the book and refer to it as my children grow but for now I think her blog and I will keep better company It s her and lessanyone else.