Turning the page

April 8th, 2008

This is a story about a girl who lived in a museum. Once upon a time, there was a girl named Opal. She decided she was going to run away. But where? Then she knew where she was going. To the Natural History Museum. Then she packed her bags and left for the Metro train. So she got on and read. Then she got off and went into the Museum.

Last Thursday my daughter took a field trip with her second-grade class to the Natural History Museum. She asked if she could take a notebook with her to write down what she saw. Lately she has been stretching her character a bit, trying on the props of an older girl, an older girl who might write in notebooks while standing in a museum. I said of course. I always give way when I see her stepping into a new and slightly oversized part.

The night after the field trip I snuck a peek into her composition book and saw that she had written the story above. You might be more startled than I was. I recognized the story as that from a book she’d recently read, and the name of the character as that in another. Those two stories now live in her story. They also live in this story of Georgia writing a story about going to the Natural History Museum while going to the Natural History Museum.

Whether we realize it or not, we make every story we ever hear our own. In that way, stories never end.

Thus was made clear the second ingredient in my personal program to cultivate childhood creativity.

Ingredient Number 2: A Story

Some stories come in books, that’s true. Some come at bedtime. Some come to second-graders riding in school buses. But stories are not always stories. Sometimes they are paintings or photographs. Sometimes they are songs or poems. Sometimes they are beads on a string. Stories begin with just anything.

Stories beget stories as life begets life.

Our children are more sagely aware than we are that life is a story. Best not to take the story so seriously, because nothing we make up is as true as the original. Besides, we can always start over again.

I’m making up a story about creativity this week. Here’s what got me started.


  1. Aviva’s stories more often than not involve rivers of hot lava and exploding volcanoes. Don’t worry, she’s quick to tell her readers – she’s fine. And more often than not, I’m learning, so am I.

    Thanks for the link to Shiny Blue You. Now that’s exciting!

    Comment by Jena Strong — April 8, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

  2. I would love to read excerpts from her stories. It’s amazing what comes out of their little heads.

    Comment by Kristin H. — April 8, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

  3. Love it! You know how I feel about stories…

    Comment by Shelli — April 8, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

  4. When my son was little, too young to write, we kept a journal. He’d dictate and I’d record. He’d tell me dreams and stories. I love that journal still – such great memories!

    Comment by Shalet — April 8, 2008 @ 11:02 pm

  5. As I began reading your post, my first thought was “oh, the mixed up files…”
    I love her amalgamation of the two stories and her own experience.
    I’m dying to know what happens.

    Comment by Ginger Carlson, author — April 8, 2008 @ 11:13 pm

  6. Once upon a time . . .

    Comment by Mama Zen — April 9, 2008 @ 1:50 pm

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