Author Jonathan Stroud is calling for parents and carers to give children time to use their imaginations through his new ‘Freedom to Think’ campaign.
Stroud wants parents and carers to make sure children have at least one period each week for ‘unstructured thinking time’ where they can choose their activity or direct their own playing.
He said: “I think all parents would agree that play is an invaluable part of their children’s lives. Crucially and above all, of course, it’s about having fun. But it does other things too. Through play kids learn to be creative – they make things, they improvise, they follow the implications of their own ideas. And it gives them better self-knowledge, helping them to understand the world and their own place in it. In short, it’s an essential part of their personal development.”
Stroud, the author of fantasy novels including the Lockwood & Co. trilogy (Penguin Random House), said he came up with the idea when he saw how busy his two children are. “It’s all good stuff – both stimulating and educational – but they often don’t have time or space to be creative in their own right.”
The campaign will have an online space on a new Tumblr page, where Stroud will share ideas about how children can use their imaginations. He will also promote the campaign during his visits to schools, libraries, bookshops and literary festivals, and hopes to find champions from other industries.
“It’s not just about the literary world. I’m hoping champions of children’s creativity from all walks of life will join the campaign,” he said. “Without space for young people to explore their passions, to stretch their minds and practice creative skills, where are our next generation of inventors, engineers, scientists, sculptors and musicians going to come from?”
Photo: An image created by children's laureate Chris Riddell in support of the Freedom to Think campaign.