Dreams, inspiration, creativity, passion, and imagination. In a fast-paced world where children face the pressures of standardized tests, lack downtime due to full schedules, and swap quiet time with technology, are these lost concepts? “Dream It: A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness” by Scott Stoll and Sara E. Williams, PhD is an engaging, smart book of activities designed to challenge children to develop realistic dreams and convert them to reality, to aid them in building a more fulfilling life. While the book is intended for girls and boys, ages 8-12, the exercises and ideas may also appeal to adolescents and adults who are willing to playfully explore and, as the authors invite, give life to the book by taking it beyond the borders of the pages and making it messy.
This playbook starts by posing the questions, “Do you want to live the biggest, best life possible? Do you want to do things never done before? Do you want your life to mean something and make a difference?” However, do not mistake this book as encouraging big fantasies that leave our youths’ heads in the clouds. The authors respect the readers’ intellect, with examples and anecdotes related to historical dreamers and inventors, and an introduction to a theory of dreams. Insights, such as “Dreams are NOT guaranteed” and “there is a big difference between impossible and never done before” are shared in an optimistic way, as the authors invite the readers to formally give themselves permission to dream. They take readers through practical processes of weighing pros and cons, considering their abilities, and evaluating progress toward their goals, in determining which dreams are most worth following and which may need adjustments.
My favorite part of the playbook is the encouragement of young readers to attend to their physical and emotional signals. For instance, the authors pose the question, “What do Dreams Feel Like?” and instruct readers to notice the sensations that are connected to thoughts about a dream, in comparison to when thoughts are more neutral. They describe how and encourage readers to do “gut checks” and trust their instincts. Space is frequently granted for self-reflection on questions such as “How full is your emotional fuel tank?” using a thermometer-style ranking. The playbook uses “external inspiration” as a vehicle to identifying “internal inspiration.” Activities such as creating a dream board, identifying most important values, and making an origami time capsule are just some of the hands-on mediums that keep dreamers engaged.
“Dream It: A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness” is fun and engaging, while also intelligent. I view it as most appropriate to recommend to a child client, or actually any youth, who I want to encourage to think outside the box, and obtain tools and perspective needed to develop and achieve their goals. If there is a child who you would like to learn that achievement is more than mastering details in a textbook or passing a test, and that their thoughts are unique and worth listening to and developing, consider this playbook! Children can work through the activities on their own, with a parent as a guide, in a group setting, or as homework in individual therapy. A research study has reported second through eighth graders who completed this curriculum as part of a weekly after-school program reported increased optimism, increased thoughts about goals, and enjoyment of the program. Adults may certainly benefit as well, using the ideas and exercise as the basis of self-reflection to drive action.
About the Review Author: Tracie Baker received her PhD from Bowling Green State University. She is currently a clinical supervisor at Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health in Canton, and leads the agency’s APA-Accredited Psychology Internship and Psychological Assessment and Consultation Services (PACS). She also provides assessment and therapy services at Child and Family Psychological Associates in Cuyahoga Falls. Her clinical work focuses on assessment and treatment of a wide range of presenting problems in the early childhood through adulthood populations. She has particular interest in working with children and adolescents who have neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
“Dream It: A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness” (ISBN 9781433827952) by Scott Stoll and Sara E. Williams, Ph.D., has a print list price of $16.95. It was published by Magination Press on June 11, 2018
Baker, Tracie. “Book Review.” Review of Dream It: A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness by Scott Stoll and Sara Williams. OPA Review, Spring 2019, p. 8.