Review: Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

I was intrigued by the premise of this book: that an imagination is possible to destroy. I confess that, after reading the book, I don’t think that the imagination can be destroyed so much as it can be depressed or starved or otherwise kept from being used to the advantage of the child. However, whether a child’s imagination is destroyed or simply retarded (in the classic sense of that word), the results can be anything but desirable.

Anthony Esolen (the author) is an academic. This is shown, in my opinion, by the detailed and extensive support provided for each of the ten points he makes. Had I written the book, I would have stated my point in a page or two and moved on. However, his love for literature and knowledge of history are evident from his myriad examples of the sorts of things (from history and literature) which a child must not be exposed to if we are to keep the imagination in check. I have not read his book on western civilization, but would think it enjoyable to do so, assuming that it is similar in tone.

While the book is written somewhat tongue in cheek, since the author really would prefer that we do the opposite of what he recommends, the discussions of each topic are quite serious. The author attempts, successfully I believe, to provide a variety of reasons for us to dig into that niggling discomfort which many of us experience with the approach to child-rearing which is dominant in Western culture today.

The ten ways to destroy the imagination may be boiled down crudely a to couple key ideas: 1) teach your child that old-fashioned things (ideas, mores, etc) are old-fashioned and unhelpful; and 2) prevent your children from as many first-person, real interactions with fellow humans and the rest of creation as is humanly possible.

Of course, having read this book, I am now amply prepared to combat the nefarious schemes which are detailed therein. It is likely that you too will find useful ideas within this book–particularly if you have small children (or will one day have small children) whose lives are yours to encourage in a profitable and rewarding direction.