Book Report: The Creative Family Manifesto

The Creative Family Manifesto: Encouraging Imagination and Nurturing Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule

If you’ve ever been around a family that simply oozes creativity, you know that the experience can be both inspiring and daunting. You’d love for a little of their magic to rub off on your own crew, but where would you even start? Maybe some families are just wired like that, but certainly not yours. Never fear, reader! Whether arts and crafts come naturally to you or not, Amanda has literally written the book on how to steep your children in imaginative rhythms, unleashing the creative potential brewing inside of them. Adopt a few of her ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to the crafty mama hall of fame. (Oh, yeah—and your kids will love it, too.)*

Especially memorable quotes:

The time to play is now. It matters.

Having some kind of active and alive creative spirit is essential to our general well-being.

It is the job of children to just be in the world. To know it and to fall in love with it.

When our every evening is spent not in front of the television or looking at a screen, but instead connecting with ourselves and the people around us through the channels of creativity, we see the world in a different light.

It doesn’t really matter what the daily outcome is. What is so deeply important to my soul and to the soul of my family is the act and the process of creating itself.

The work of handmade is never perfect, and that’s the beauty of it.

Now, my friends, is the time to nurture your creative side. If you need an excuse, let’s call it a “job responsibility” that comes with parenting, okay?

This book happily challenged my top-down approach to artistic growth. While I expected tips on sowing artful living into my little one, Amanda points out that children are naturally gifted with a creative intuition foreign to adults. While I can provide a ripe environment, I shouldn’t set myself up as the guru—quite the opposite, actually.

It is imperative to keep this in mind: we are not their teachers on this journey. We can be their guides; their assistants; their facilitators; their researchers; sometimes their directors; and other times, their faithful, open, and patient students.

How many things I’ve been excited to show her! But as a new parent, I have a front-row seat to a few precious years of prime imagination building and a “teacher” whose wide-eyed wonder gives her an edge over anything I could manufacture. Sure, I’ll eventually explain some finer points and techniques (or learn alongside her as we explore together), but a humble and teachable spirit will place me at her feet while she wanders the path of artful living, even as a tiny thing. I can’t wait to see how the Lord will use this new workshop mindset to teach me through my daughter.

Some prompts for journaling:

  • How have I seen the power of art at work in my life?
  • Where are the overlooked moments I can claim for creativity? How will I prepare for them?
  • What are some meaningful ways we can make space for artful living in our family?
  • If creativity flows best when everyone is happy, what needs to shift in our home environment?
  • When do I come most fully alive?
  • Where can we add a dash of creativity to the things we already do as a family?
  • How can I document what we each valued as beautiful today?
  • Where do I sense the need to develop my own imagination?
  • What obstacles are most likely to inhibit the privilege and responsibility I have as a parent to nurture creativity?
  • How do I need to build in creative organization? inspiration? preservation?

*I should probably point out that this book is one of the few on my reading list this year not written from a Christian perspective. Amanda has brilliant ideas, and a pervasive love of creation is woven throughout her pages, but there are some distinctly secular bits, too.

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