Blowing the Horn: Architecture of the Imagination

My hope for the children’s book industry and the Horn Book is that both will continue to create and expose children to books that widen their world, not narrow it.

Illustration (c) 2012 by Christy Hale from Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building.
Shared with permission of the publisher, Lee & Low Books, Inc., New York, NY.

As I believed when I created Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, books are architecture of the imagination. Children delight in giving form to their imaginations: strewing blankets to make private forts or stacking blocks to build ever-expanding structures. Books as a medium of play must be protected. Whether that play is through books, clay, blocks, or paint, children discover how the world works; develop self-confidence and independence; and learn the social skills of listening, empathy, and conflict resolution.

Encouraging self-direction in play and self-selection in reading respects each whole child as an active participant in learning. Choice is key at all ages. Decision-making power creates intrinsic motivation and sustained ownership of the process. Plus, there is the joy of discovery! Denying this produces passive, disengaged learners, with stifled imaginations.

Now more than ever, children need access to a wide variety of reading material. Trends toward eliminating book availability and controlling narratives in contemporary life and history create distorted, reductive perspectives. Young readers need the validation of finding themselves on the page as well as opportunities to meet many others there. This primes children to begin to comprehend the complexity of life.

The Horn Book is a leader in cultivating exemplary children’s literature and its creators. It is inspiring to see the Horn Book champion the range of themes, formats, artistic styles, voices, and creators that they do year after year. While what is possible in a children’s book continues to expand, the Horn Book’s commitment to highlighting quality, rigor, and the centering of the child-as-reader does not waver. I am honored to have several of my books recognized by its expert community.

From the May/June 2024 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Our Centennial. For more Horn Book centennial coverage, click here. Find more in the "Blowing the Horn" series here.

Single copies of this special issue are available for $15.00 including postage and may be ordered from:

Horn Book Magazine Customer Service

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Christy Hale

Christy Hale is the author-illustrator of Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building (Lee & Low, 2012). She illustrated the forthcoming Farmer Eva's Green Garden Life (Readers to Eaters, 2024).

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