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Raising Imaginative Kids: Lily Writes a Story


Four-year-old Lily has always had an incredible imagination, developing complex plots for her characters. Most of the time, I catch snippets of conversations as she moves her little people or animals around, or as she and Emma and Johnny role play. She had scribbled in this notebook for weeks, but one day I realized that it was all part of an ongoing story about Sally (who often appears alongside my children’s favorite imaginary friend, Connie, although not as frequently as Connie’s sidekick, the oh-so-aptly-named Nowun (pronounced No-one). Lily is capable of reading a little, and writing some as well, but it’s hard and I’m guessing that is why she is using the same cursive-like scribble that she has used for writing for a couple years now. I love that seven-year-old Emma valued Lily’s story enough to offer to sit down and write it out for her so that we would have it once Lily forgets how to “read” her scribbles!

Sally isn’t imaginary, though – she is Lily’s alter-ego when the kids role play. Johnny often pretends to be Jack, and Emma pretends to be Sarah, who you will also see in this story. Lily reads her story out loud to us, now, and the paper above is what Emma wrote as Lily “read” aloud. I got a clip of her reading a different part (chapter?) of her story out loud to Mike:




Obviously, storytelling is something Lily has a knack for and enjoys. Storytelling is also highly valued in our home, and a part of our daily life. I think that storytelling helps people learn how to process events and put feelings into words. It’s also a fantastic low-risk environment for exploring new ideas!

Do your kids make up stories? Did you as a kid? I love getting glimpses into my children’s imaginative worlds – through art, writing, and simply watching them play!

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

14 thoughts on “Raising Imaginative Kids: Lily Writes a Story”

  1. We love storytelling and I adore this post!! All of it – the story Lily wrote, that Emma transcribed it for her and that Anna clearly loved it too!

  2. I alsp really like Anna’s entry – reminds me so much of Nell. If you have time these next few days could you e-mail me what you have done for kids first birthdays? Nell’s is on Sunday. We have generally decided to give more time presents than tangible ones and so I am planning to simply make edible playdough for him and spend Sunday afternoon playing with him as a family. I think cake should be muffins…

    1. First birthdays are usually really simple in our family. Just cake and then doing something the baby loves. I love your idea of time presents rather than tangible ones – more valuable, too.

  3. I love that Emma wrote down Lily’s story and did such a great job at it. All your kids are incredibly creative, and I can see where their creativity is coming from :) Smarty does a lot more story telling when she is playing with friends, but I know that she has a lot of stories going silently in her mind. I wish she would write them down more, but she still finds writing tedious and prefers keeping them “in her brain” (her words).

  4. This is the best ever! I believe this comes from your great story telling as parents! I always love to hear about the stories in your family…you guys are the best!

  5. I wish I had caught on earlier to the value of asking my children to slow down and tell me their stories so I could record them. It is amazing what we learn about their thinking, and they are so excited to see their work in print.

  6. My five year-old son makes up stories all the time, usually about his pretend brother Nick or about train stories. I don’t know why, but I never thought to write them down. This is definitely an exercise I’d like to do at home…maybe even today. Thank you for this inspiration. Lily is just adorable and quite the storyteller!

  7. So many stories I can’t even begin to say how many. My daughter always wants to be “Penny,” from Bolt, which was her favorite movie when she was 2. She hasn’t watched the movie for years, but she still is ALWAYS Penny.

  8. Elisa | blissfulE

    How precious! And I love how healthily the imaginary people eat. :) :) :) Lily definitely has a knack for storytelling, and Emma writes very nicely.

    I invented a lot of stories to entertain my little sister while we were growing up. I don’t remember many of the earlier themes – except one that was terrifying to me – and later to her as she saw me becoming so scared – which involved the faucet and handles on our bathtub. We ended up plastered against the back of the bathtub as far as we could get from the faucet, and my mum had to rescue us. I also vaguely recall one from elementary school that had a repetitive, rhythmic segment to which I continuously added and that she could say with me (she would remember all my additions better than I). The stories I remember telling her during high school involved ridiculously buffoonish characters, such as Honky the Donkey, Chief Maud Dandelion, and Hidey-Poof Criminal (whom Chief Maud Dandelion could never catch).

    Before our first child was born, Ben told me that he hoped our child(ren) would have my imagination. From what I see and hear around the house and in the back garden, I think they do…

  9. In love with this blog! This post is fantastic and she is just adorable.Storytelling is crucial in our home too as writing has been a huge part of our family (both professionally and as a “therapeutic” way of dealing with issues) for generations.
    A few months ago I started a Worldwide tale. We have a book travelling around the world and each kid is writing a page of the story. It is currently in South Africa. You can see the route here:
    Maybe your girl would like to join?
    Can’t wait for more posts. Will follow you on bloglovin. :)

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