Throughout the years, Prof Franci Greyling has used words to build imaginary worlds in which young readers immersed themselves, experienced adventure and discovered their own creativity. Having written 12 books, Franci also developed the concept for Storiewerf , which is an Afrikaans website promoting children’s and youth literature and young writing talent. Franci says she fell in love with books at a very early age. She believes reading stimulated her creativity and paved the way for her becoming a writer.
"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." - Dr Seuss
Theodor Seuss "Ted" Geisel was an American children's author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, screenwriter and filmmaker. Some of his famous children’s books that were also adapted for animated film and TV series, were The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Source: Wikipedia
They are tangible, they are immersive, they are educational and they act as a guide. That is why, according to Prof Franci Greyling, a lecturer in creative writing, children should be encouraged to delve into this most wonderful world. And they should write. The former leads to the latter.
“Reading books requires a different kind of concentration than what children are used to in this digital world. The challenge is to get children to read out of their own will. We should remember that children have different tastes, and thus a variety of reading material must be available to them.
“Parents also play a major role in getting their children to read. By forming a ritual where parents read with their children in a comfortable environment, reading becomes part of their reality. It becomes part of their world,” says Franci.
Reading to their pets
She also notes a study that has shown the benefits of young children reading to their pets as a way of encouraging them to read. Once this foundation – a love for books and reading – has been laid, a path to other forms of expression comes to the fore.
“If you look at how easily we have access to entertainment, we have become very passive. We only use, we don’t create. It is important to use our creativity. There is an abundance of stimuli available, but there is something special about being able to discover something for yourself.”
“To create is a new way of expressing yourself,” says Franci. That way is writing.
“I think that what children are forced to write at school is too far removed from their reality. They should write about a world that is relevant to them. They write using only words, but they live in a world of combined media. If they write while also using pictures, they will realise why writing is relevant.”
Then, voila! A world of endless possibilities opens up for the young and brave to explore.
To read is to write
When boredom surfaces, the imagination has failed. From yonder to beyond the gateway to the land where wonders know no bounds, imagination has, and will hopefully remain, through books.