Smack Dab in the Classroom: Foster the Extraordinary Child, by Dia Calhoun

Last week at the Central Teen Lit Festival in Bend, Oregon, I met an extraordinary twelve-year old boy. He brought three novels he'd written--perhaps 150 pages or more each. His mechanics--handling of dialogue, quotation marks, paragraphing, a table of contents--were better than many beginning adult writers. The thoroughness was amazing.

Amazing, too, was the imaginative content. He mixed Star Wars, King Arthur--one character was J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan. What richness! I wondered when he did all of this work. Outside of school? In school?

And I thought back to my own early education and how boring it was. How unchallenged I was. I remember the dreaded "reading circles," where we all sat and read one sentence at a time. I would count ahead the number of sentences to see when I would read, stick my thumb on the page to be ready for my turn, and then eagerly read on ahead to find out what was happening in the story.

We need to do more to foster and encourage children who excel in imagination. So today I urge all teachers and school districts to foster the talent of extraordinary children like the boy I met in Bend.


  1. I love the phrase "excel in imagination." Most important tool EVER.

  2. Imagination begins in pre K and K...and so many of these early childhood programs have abandoned creativity and imagination in favor of "Literacy" based curriculum. Literacy meaning reading/writing. How can a child expect to excel without first learning the value of unstructured play and peer interactions...both of which are NOT part of the Literacy dynamic. Sad and stupid!


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