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by Miriam Downey 20. August 2012 07:57


The boy and his father were riding home from Boy Scout camp. It was a long ride, and both were tired. After a while, the boy said to his father, "If it's okay with you, I'm just going to sit her and daydream for a while."

This story comes from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of daydreaming. The author, Danny Heitman, suggests that like his son, everyone needs to drift off into daydreaming once in a  while, and summer is the perfect time for this activity.

It is probably essential to a child's brain development that he be allowed time to just daydream; time that isn't regimented or regulated or entertained. Playing on the beach or the sand box, sitting and rocking on the front porch, swinging in the hammock, hiding out in a tree house.

In my family, after a long day of play at the cottage, everyone gathers at the beach to watch the sunset. It is a magical, mystical time where everyone is quiet, lost in his or her own thoughts--daydreaming or sunset dreaming. On a warm summer evening, the children like to walk into the reflection of the sunset in the water. You probably had those daydreaming moments yourself as a child.

While the books I am recommending this week aren't all about daydreaming, they evoke the quiet kind of moments when children can dream and discover themselves. As Heitman says in his article: "A daydream is a stolen pleasure--a moment or two pleasantly robbed from some more obviously useful task as the brain leaps a fence, goes adventuring and, with any luck, returns to active duty before anyone knows it's been AWOL.

The following books are either available online or at your local library. Enjoy them and encourage your child's daydreaming.

Picture Books

One morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. This is a classic book about a little girl and her lost tooth and a wonderful summer day.

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey. All the wonderful summer days. Finding beauty and interest in nearly everything.

What Can You Do with a Rebozo by Carmen Tafolla. A child plays with a rebozo and shows all the many things that can be done with that scarf. An imagination at work.

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. A little city girl and her dream adventure.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Harold Creates a dream world with his crayon.

The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse. A little boy chases a red balloon all over Paris. Also a wonderful short movie.

One Sunday Morning by Yumi Heo. A boy and his father spend the day in the city park.

Boy on the Brink by David McPhail. Waking adventures and dreams by a masterful author.


Chapter Books and Novels

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Jo, one of four sisters, is the epitome of a dreamer with her nose always in a book.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Orphaned Mary Lennox discovers a secret garden and brings it back to life.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. The heroine in this classic book about life in Brooklyn in the 1910s is a reader and a dreamer.

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. Danny has a magical life living in a gypsy caravan.

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary. Newbery Prize book. Leigh Botts is a lonely boy who pours out his life in letters to Mr. Henshaw, his favorite author.

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan. This is a biography of Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet. He was a dreamer whose creative dreams turned into great poetry.

Dreams by Day, Dreams by Night: An anthology of Poems and Photographs by Mondo. Beloved poems with eye-catching photographs.

The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman. A nightmare capturing Dream Stealer starts collecting happy Dreams.

Classic Adult Books About Dreamers

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber

 Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

 Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in reverie.

Henry David Thoreau.



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