Thursday, April 10, 2014

Inspiring Creativity Through "The Spark"

This morning, I finished listening to the audio book of The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett. It's not a children's book, although my 14-year-old heard snippets of it in the car and seemed just as fascinated as I was. 

It's the story of Jake, who became a researcher in quantum physics at the age of twelve, and his family, especially his mom, who nurtured his genius and helped him learn to live with his autism.

Two things about this book really stood out for me and inspired me. 

1) It got me thinking about what you can achieve if you put your energy into doing what you love. 

2) It reminded me of the importance of having a strong support system, one that provides the right environment for the spark to develop.

As a mom, I loved the way Kristine and her family supported her children's interests, giving them what they needed so they could explore and discover on their own. It makes me think about my own children and their "sparks" are, and making sure they have time to follow them.

As a teacher, I loved this story because it fits so well with what I strive to do every day in my teaching in play-based kindergarten, for even just one child.

As a writer, reading this book inspired me to keep following my passion. I'm already thinking about ways to nurture my own creativity and "spark", as well as the creativity of others. How do you feed your "spark"?

In case you want to know more about this book, here's the Goodreads link and part of the Amazon description:

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.

The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.

Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.


  1. This reminds me of Paul Erdos, a brilliant mathematician who didn't learn to butter his own bread till he was an adult. I definitely want to read this.

  2. This sounds like an interesting book! Like you, I'm always trying to encourage my kids sparks, although they're both into science, which is outside my wheelhouse at times. I just put this on hold at my library. :)


I love to hear your responses and thoughts! Your comments will appear after moderation (I’ve decided to enable moderation due to excessive spam).