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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

From Harold and the Purple Crayon to Caine’s Arcade

June 13, 2014


Imagination inspiration

In 1955, when Harold and the Purple Crayon was first published, lots of kids (including me and my brothers) sat too long on their fannies in front of the television set. Maybe author Crockett Johnson had some TV addicted kids of his own. So he wrote a story about a little boy who creates a big adventure using only an oversized crayon and his imagination? 1950’s parents made it a best seller, hoping it would inspire their kids to unplug from the screen and be creative! The book is still in print and 21st century parents are still hoping the same.

Summer should give kids a break from prescribed learning and an invitation to use their imagination. Instead, they often settle into a predictable routine of screen time. As an app developer I know there are loads of creative apps for kids, but often the most creative playtime involves no tech. Ask Harold and his 21st century real-life counterpart… Caine.

Cardboard+Imagination= Infinite possibilities+FUN

Cardboard+Imagination= Infinite possibilities+FUN

A couple of summers ago Caine went to work each day with his dad who owns a used auto parts shop in East Los Angeles. There wasn’t much for Caine to do, but there were plenty of cardboard boxes. So Caine decided to use his imagination and his hands to create his own fun. Watch Caine’s Arcade with your kids (a 10 minute film) and check out my Family Confidential podcast this week: Imagination Rocks and learn about the Global Cardboard Challenge.  Then talk about how your family can make this your most creative summer ever.



  1. Annie – Thanks so much for posting this. What a great story! I direct a children’s group therapy program in Massachusetts and I’m going to post a link to this story right now. Caine’s Arcade is a perfect example of what I love about kids and working with kids. They’re unconstrained by the blinders that develop as your experience teaches you to think in a particular way. As a result, they come up with some amazing ideas. Thanks again.

    Comment by Bruce Sabian — June 16, 2014 @ 10:40 am

  2. Love this post! I love Harold and the Purple Crayon, and that has become one of my kid’s favorite books too. I think in all this craziness to have our children understand technology we forget what is involved in building our own worlds. I always thought the Harvard admission test should consist of leaving students in a room with cardboard boxes and see who can be the most creative. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Krysty — June 23, 2014 @ 6:56 am

  3. Thank you for you interest in my blog, in creativity and in kids, Krysty. Love your idea for a college admissions test. Actually, in my admissions interview for Cornell, I was asked to list as many uses for a paper clip as I could think of. I remember thinking “This is FUN and totally unexpected!” PS I got into Cornell.

    Comment by Annie — June 23, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

  4. Hi Bruce, Thank you for posting a comment and thank you for being an educator. I’d love to find out more about Academy Metro West. please contact me at and let’s talk!

    Comment by Annie — August 19, 2014 @ 8:24 am

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