**This is a guest post, written by Jenny Holt.
A survey by NASA of 1,600 children found that 98% of 4-5 year olds could actually be classified as “creative geniuses.” However by the time the children reached the age of 15, this figure had dropped to 12%. The only way to hang on to creativity is to encourage generative, divergent thought in any way that we can. Listening to interesting audiobooks is a wonderful way to spark children’s imagination and boost creativity. After all, where would the human race be without creativity? There would be no Mona Lisa smile, no Starry Night and Romeo and Juliet would cease to exist. Creativity is a prized attribute and should be encouraged in children from the outset, because sadly it doesn’t last forever.
Listening to audiobooks is a great way of learning new skills that encourage creativity. For instance, listen to the beautiful Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson. There are some wonderful descriptions of the tranquil roses and lilies in the gardens. If you are teaching children how to create drawings of flowers and plants, then listening to the details about the petals can help them to visualize how delicate they are. Or listen to Are we along? Scientists Search for Life in Space, recorded for National Geographic. Not only will children learn about the solar system, they will also be inspired by the incredible descriptions of how our universe is expanding.
A large part of creativity comes from expressing your emotions in a visual or descriptive way. Think of Shakespeare’s sonnets, or the alliterative poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins - these are works that are steeped heavily in feelings. In order to be able to express your emotions, you need to be able to understand them. A study by Professor Barry Zuckerman at Boston University School of Medicine found that listening to stories helped improve the emotional and social development of children. This in turn can help them turn their feelings and experiences into something truly creative. This form of self-expression is extremely important for children, especially as they are still developing their vocabulary.
Sparking the imagination
Listening to audiobooks can help children to imagine freely, and because they don’t have to concentrate on reading the words or understanding grammar, they can listen to a story unfolding, building visual pictures in their minds of what is going on. This helps children not only to imagine a landscape and characters, but also to put themselves in the same situation. This broad way of thinking helps them to develop creative, new ideas. Think of how Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne could inspire children. What would they imagine to find on their own journey? Who would they meet and how would they travel? What kind of treasures are they searching for and where do they find them.
Listening to audiobooks could spark a child’s creative urge to write their own stories, draw pictures, make models and paint incredible works of art. You never know where a good story can do for their imaginations!