When I think of imaginary islands, the first one that comes to mind is the Island of Misfit Toys from the 1964 Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The thought of that cute pink spotted elephant being unloved almost did me in as a child – and I still breathe a sigh of relief when he gets rescued by Santa at the end of the show. Today, “touring” our 4th, 5th and 6th grade students’ imaginary islands, it confirmed my belief that this is one of Inly’s best classroom projects. The students are charged with creating an island – name it, determine its form of government, draw beautiful and whimsical maps, make a state flag, and figure out what the island’s residents will eat. It’s just a really cool project. There was an island called Random Island and another called Flower Power Island. A 6th grade student created a place named Everdeen (as in Katniss) Island, and the picture on the left is of Long Tail Island. You will not be surprised to hear that my favorite place was Stuffed Animal Island. It looked like a place where the pink spotted elephant could be happy!
This summer, if you have a group of kids who decide (by late-June) that there is “nothing to do,” encourage them to create an island in the backyard.
Here’s a list of island-themed children’s books to get them started. Not all of these “islands” are surrounded by water, but they are all magical lands created out of children’s imaginations.
Weslandia by Paul Fleischman with illustrations by Kevin Hawkes (Wesley, the eccentric protagonist of this classic, creates a small civilization in his backyard)
Roxaboxen by Alice McLearran (The children of Roxaboxen make an imaginary world from what they find around them – sticks and rocks and boxes)
The Raft by Jim LaMarche (The boy in this book creates an imaginary, animal-filled world on a floating island, his raft)
The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Gannett
Abel’s Island by William Steig
And for older children…
Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
There are also many versions of the classic island novel, Treasure Island