The New “Smile” Spin-Off Helps Tweens Express Themselves in Brain-Boosting Ways

Doodling and writing for fun can help tweens cope with stress and boost concentration. Raina Telgemeier’s new book “Share Your Smile” can get your child started.
By Monique Melendez
May 08, 2019

Ages

8-12

The New “Smile” Spin-Off Helps Tweens Express Themselves in Brain-Boosting Ways

May 08, 2019

Whether your tween is a self-proclaimed creative or shy about her artistic abilities, writing and drawing can benefit her brain in a number of incredible ways. It’s just one reason the new graphic novel how-to book, Share Your Smile, is a great learning tool.

In the book, best-selling author Raina Telgemeier (you know her from Smile, Sisters, Drama, and Ghosts) shines the spotlight on a completely new character — the reader! With drawing lessons and thought-provoking writing prompts, this book helps your tween document all of her life experiences on paper.

Your tween will love having a fun outlet for self-expression, but there’s another reason why drawing and journaling is a good use of time: Creating art can improve cognitive function by increasing interaction between different regions of the brain, and can strengthen the ability to cope with stress, according to a small German study. In other words? If your tween just had a bad day at school, or needs to vent about a rude classmate, expressing those feelings on paper will help.

What’s more, according to an English study, even simple doodles can help boost brain functions such as concentration and memory.

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In Share Your Smile, Telgemeier shows readers every step of the drawing process — from barebone sketches to the final published products — and shares a number of tips and visual guides to help readers draw their own unique characters. The guides are made with beginner artists in mind: Telgemeier shows each step that goes into drawing a face, and she encourages readers to keep going even if their work isn’t perfect. “It took years for me to develop my drawing style — and I’m still trying to improve!” she writes.

She also encourages young writers to explore both fictional and nonfiction writing, with prompts that relate to family life (Do you have funny family memories you love to tell time and time again?), school life (Have you ever needed to help your friends at school? What happened?), and even the supernatural (Have you ever encountered something you felt was slightly... otherworldly?). These prompts will allow your tween to express himself in a rich variety of ways, from sharing his own life experiences to crafting new characters and settings.

Sure, kids might get writing and maybe even drawing practice in the classroom. But giving yours the opportunity to express herself in a totally personal, uninhibited way can help her to not only develop her own self-expression and sharpen her cognitive skills, but to also deal with the stresses that come with tween life. Bonus: It may just lead to a lifelong passion for creative arts.

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