Herb and Sandra Reiersen spent many nights reading bedtime stories to their three children and appreciate the positive impact that imagination can have on a person’s life.
Imagination will be an important part of Jillian Britz’ career. The former student of Herb Reiersen at Oak View Middle School in Andover will be a senior at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., this next school year and she wants to work in the arts department for a major studio like DreamWorks. Her college campus is not far from Disneyland, a place where kids can live out their dreams.
Together, the Reiersens and Britz developed a children’s book that seeks to activate a child’s imagination. The book, which was published just a few weeks ago by Beaver’s Pond Press, is titled “Finish the Dream: God’s Amazing World.”
The book takes five magical journeys through a crystal ice cave, under the sea, across the night sky, over the Pacific Ocean and through clouds to see the world from above. The book is generally meant for kids ages four to eight.
What they envision is parents starting their children’s nighttime journey into their imagination by reading one of the dreams. As children close their eyes, their parent’s soothing voice says to listen to the soft breeze blowing. “It’s the ocean breeze at the beach. We’re lying on the warm sand and staring up at the passing clouds. We are lost in thoughts of all the wonderful places we’ve seen in God’s world.”
These last few sentences are the introduction to the dream of “riding the peaceful sea” that takes the young dreamer from the beach and over the Pacific Ocean. The children learn that most of the Earth is covered in water and that the Pacific Ocean is the largest of five oceans. They imagine flying over the open blue water, seeing tropical islands with swaying palm trees and sandy beaches. They ride the back of a dolphin before flying back to the clouds.
Each chapter starts with a Bible verse from the Book of Job that pertains to the dream and each chapter ends with the question, “Now, sweet dreamer, where will you go as you finish the dream?”
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In Herb’s Oak View Middle School technology education classroom is a quote by Albert Einstein that “imagination is more important than knowledge.”
The Reiersens, who live in Brooklyn Park, have contemplated this book for a number of years. They remember the pleas of their children Hanna, April and T.J., who now range from 21 to 32 years old, for just one more story because they could not get to sleep. They tell open ended stories that encourage the listener to imagine their own ending.
The illustrations are stylized and not realistic, Britz said, to activate children’s imaginations even more.
“We didn’t want the artwork to be like a picture of what the dream is,” Sandra said. “We wanted the artwork to give them ideas of where to go in their dreams.”
Britz was the first person the Reiersens thought of when they were contemplating who to ask to illustrate their first book. Herb, who has also taught at schools in Blaine and Coon Rapids, was very impressed with the work Britz did in middle school and high school. They stayed connected because she is friends with their son, T.J., so they knew the 2009 Andover High School graduate is pursuing a career that will encourage imagination in future generations.
Britz picked up crayons to color Disney princess characters when she was in second grade, and she was very careful to stay within the lines. She soon began drawing on her own and in particular liked to draw people from pictures she saw. She often stayed at school late to work on art projects to make them as good as they could be, and she would go above and beyond the assignment by creating two art projects on many occasions.
“I like that it’s my creative outlet. I like that I can be good enough at it to make it a career,” said Britz, whose parents currently reside in Blaine. She would like to work for a film studio on concept and development drawings.
The Reiersens really began working on the book three to four years ago. The first plan was to write one long story, but Herb suggested dividing the book into multiple dream chapters so a different dream could be told each night. They came up with many dream scenarios and are saving some of them for future “Finish the Dream” books that are now in development.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org