22 February 2021

We are all born with an innate creative spirit. As humans, we have the instinctive drive to create, and as someone who works in early literacy and with young children, my job is to nurture that creative spirit in our youngest library patrons. When I plan programs, my primary goal always revolves around the question, “How can I encourage children to think freely and creatively?”  

One of my initiatives (and a personal favorite) is Preschool Art, a monthly process-based program designed to give young children the resources and space they need to nourish their artistic talents. Each month, we discuss and explore a different artist, style, or technique, and we create artful masterpieces! When in the library building, it’s joyful, refreshing, and simply… awe-inspiring to witness preschoolers digging deep into their imagination to create a masterpiece that they can sign their name to and display proudly at home.

Within the confines of COVID-19, building closures, and social distancing, I still feel the need to encourage kids to cultivate their creative spirits; and Preschool Art has transitioned seamlessly to a take-and-create kit structure. I record a short video about each featured artist for patrons to watch, and provide grab-and-go kits containing the supplies they’ll need to create a masterpiece in the style of that artist. For example, a program about Kehinde Wiley and portraiture features a kit that includes a piece of vibrant wallpaper, drawing paper, and multicultural crayons; the kit for Yayoi Kusama’s dot pop art has a bingo stamper, dot stickers, and origami paper; and the kit for Navajo weaving has a small cardboard loom, a child-safe lacing needle, and some mini-skeins of yarn. Most importantly, there are no step-by-step instructions, preschoolers are prompted to work independently and use their imaginations, and caregivers are asked to let their children revel in the creative process.

Ultimately, children need a safe place to express themselves, and we—as parents, caregivers, and educators—need to encourage them to be the naturally creative beings they are. There is no doubt that magic happens when we let children create.

Our guest blogger today is Jenny Haydysch. Jenny is the Early Literacy Specialist at Warren-Newport Public Library.