Children are the Future of Canadian Literature and Art

by - Saturday, October 19, 2019

At my family Thanksgiving dinner someone said they didn't understand why libraries are still open. I was quick to tell him that at a recent author event I did in my own local library, the little bell over the door rang constantly as people came in to borrow books. Real life, 3D, old fashioned books. At bedtime, my daughter curls herself around novels that seem too big for her and consumes them until her eyes won't stay open. Some might say this is a ploy to stay up later, but I know it's because she can't wait to know what happens next. I know because she'll excitedly tell me where she is in the plot and what she thinks might be about to happen.

There's a lot of talk about how children are being raised on YouTube; how the screen is their first choice and books are obsolete. I know this isn't the whole truth.

I believe children are born with an innate curiosity and when we foster it we are watering little seeds that will bloom into artists.

I'm currently running a six week Writer's Café for children ages 6-12 and I am continually amazed by the ideas they share. These kids are little fonts of inspiration. They're not jaded by the world and are comfortable in their weirdness. They say what they think and they're not afraid. Can you remember being like that? What a gift that is! When that fearlessness is focused on creating something, there's no limit to what these children can produce.

You and I, the creatives of today, are probably doing what we're doing because someone encouraged us when we were kids. It's only right that we pay that forward to the creatives of the future.

Kids need opportunities that pull them away from that screen. They should be allowed to stay up late to read another chapter (or sent to bed a little earlier to make that happen). We should be asking them questions that help them engage with the world around them:

  • What do you think that mural is really about?
  • If you could live anywhere in the universe, where would you live?
  • Describe the colour blue.
  • If the moon could see his own reflection would he still be sad?
You don't need a pen or an easel to exercise an imagination.

The mission of Blank Spaces is to champion the work of Canadian creatives. We're four years old now. Practically a grown up. So it's high time we include the little ones!

A five-year-old entered our last write prompt challenge. I think it's so special that a child that young wanted to participate in something a bunch of adults are doing and it gave me the push I needed to get something going for children. Blank Spaces needs some kids in the family and together we can encourage and nurture their desire to create!

I'm so happy to introduce a new Children's Essay Contest! Children and teens from age 5 - 18 are invited to enter, sharing their thoughts on why creativity is important in Canada. The deadline isn't until June so you have lots of time to share this with the bubbling creatives in your life. We are charging a submission fee for the contest because we want to give out cash prizes to the top essays in each category and produce a special publication of every exceptional piece. (If you'd like to sponsor this contest, we'd love to see that prize pool grow!)

If you're a teacher and are interested in having your class participate, you can sign up and get a download package with a poster and permission forms here.

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© Alanna Rusnak Publishing est. 2016 and Blank Spaces Magazine