Back in 1947, Viktor Lowenfeld, a professor of art education, delineated the stages in a child’s artistic development in his book Creative and Mental Growth. It says something to me that the 8th edition of this text is still available and in use.
One of the stages Lowenfeld notes is the “Scribble Stage” — a stage which I’m sure we can all readily identify in children. This period of a child’s progression in the understanding of art has four distinct substages, according to Lowenfeld, the final of them being the “Naming Stage” in which the child begins to tell stories about his or her scribbles. The child is beginning to understand the connection between picture and narrative.
In my thinking, there are messages here for both readers and writers of children’s books.
I believe strongly that reading to children from the time they are infants — and even before they are born — is a key element in “raising bookworms,” a topic I discussed at great length in my posts about Emma Walton Hamilton’s book by that title in January. Although the giveaway I mention in this link is over, if you’re not familiar with Emma’s book, I urge you to check out this link.
Perhaps we can enhance a child’s development in the artistic realm as well, by showing the child how story and picture are interconnected in the books we share with them. Asking questions, pointing out elements of story in the pictures that aren’t in the words, could all help bring on the day when the child begins to use his or her scribblings to tell a story.
Writers and illustrators can play a part in this process as well, by being aware of the stages in cognitive, artistic, and language development that a child goes through, and working to enhance and encourage development through the books we produce.
I’ve found a blog post that gives many delightful ways for parents and caregivers to help their children give expression to their artistic side — hope you enjoy these Fun Art Activities for Your Little Scribbler from Sarah of “So Says Sarah.”