Literature

Book review: The Creative Family

2008-04-08-creative-family.jpgAbout a week and a half ago I finished the third book on my my book list. This book– The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections— was, I felt, a great follow-up to reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking a couple weeks ago. It is so much more than just an arts and crafts How To book: it’s an encouragement to make creative expression a daily part of your and your child’s life. The author, Amanda Blake Soule (of soulemama.com), though not writing from a God-fearing perspective*, has a wonderful understanding of the importance of practicing and expressing simple gratitude and joy wherever she is. The book is brimming with enthusiasm and appreciation for how creativity enriches us and our children, and it is contagious.

If you’re like me, you might be thinking at this point that you don’t really need another book that makes you realize how un-gifted you are when it comes to things like drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, photography, etc! If so, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there, done that, and I can tell you that this book is not one of those. In reading, I found myself inspired to start pushing the limits of what I feel capable of doing, instead of feeling hopelessly discouraged.

Certainly, there are lots of How To’s for simple knitting, felting, and sewing projects and, without a doubt, Amanda Soule is a very talented woman (the kind that can whip up fun spring pants for her children’s Easter baskets the night before!). Yet there is a constant theme and encouragement throughout the book to not focus simply on the projects for the projects’ sake, but rather to find the artistry and creativity in the simple day-to-day affairs of life, and to make an effort to do a little more with whatever occasion arises. This is something we can all do, wherever we are and whatever our limitations.

The author gives ideas for how to display your children’s artwork, how to keep artistic supplies readily available for you and your children’s use, how to create special places and moments for your children, how to celebrate, how to prioritize creativity, and much more.

Yes, one thing I’ve realized in my recent reading is that I too often fall into the trap of saying, “I’ll help the children put a little stage together for their play after I bake the bread, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, make the beds, wash the dishes…” and on and on it goes. I tend to be very task-oriented. And while there’s nothing wrong with a basic understanding that the fun stuff of life ought to come after we’ve finished our work, there is also much truth in the fact that our work is never actually done. We have to decide beforehand that the extra minutes a creative touch might require is worth the time and effort.

And I must say that as I make creating more of a priority lately, I’m finding that day-to-day life is transformed from something to get through to something I look forward to. Time with the children, time for pausing from the lists and the work to be appreciative of the world around us and the people we love, time to develop the talent God has deposited in us, time to give beauty an expression right where I am.

I greatly enjoyed this book, and I think my whole family is benefiting from the inspiration it provided!

*There is quite a bit in the book that needs to be “weeded” through. Soule shares many good insights and even more terrific ideas, but there is quite a bit of her worldly philosophy woven throughout, particularly in the final chapter. I probably wouldn’t give this book to a new believer or a young child to read, but I do feel like it is a worthwhile read nonetheless.

Discussion

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  1. I actually have wondered about that book. She seems truly creative and I often have thought that her home must be quite a fun place. I started out so strong in that area (approaching mothering and homemaking with creativity), but could use a proverbial “kick in the pants” once again these days. The undone housework (never ending, may I add) has exhausted my fun right out!

    This book looks great! And thanks for the admonition to read with care. I guess that’s to be an understood approach to all books, even those labeled Christian, but still, we can get lazy about that!

    Posted by Darlene | February 10, 2009, 3:00 am
  2. It’s funny you bring this book up, b/c I am simultaneously reading it and “For the Children’s Sake” right now! Our reading is scarily similar. ;)

    I absolutely LOVE this book. I agree there is a lot of “junk”, but I am so used to just automatically skipping over that kind of thinking that I almost don’t even notice it! I LOVE Amanda’s ideas on family drawing time, getting outside every day (even if only for a few min.!) the importance of make-believe and dress-up, etc. etc. I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading this one again as soon as I’m finished to catch everything I have forgotten already. :)

    Posted by Sarah | February 10, 2009, 6:32 am
  3. Your review has sparked interest for me to read this. I often find myself in the same place with the endless housework. I could always use more creative inspiration. I’ve also wanted to read the Hidden art of Homemaking as well.
    Thanks.

    Posted by Gina Murawski | February 12, 2009, 5:09 pm