The British Library is calling on children to write and illustrate little books which will form part of an online National Library of Miniature Books for the Toy World. This creative idea takes inspiration from the BL’s physical collection of miniature books, from the present day and from the past. Lots of fantastic resources have been made available on the BL website, including this first known book by Charlotte Bronte.
This is a great way to motivate children to read and to write. In a world designed for and by adults, size matters to children. Miniaturising the whole process, as author, publisher, and reader, puts them firmly in control. The young Brontes created a rich fantasy world around the stories they wrote for Branwells’ toy soldiers. Reading to their toys allows the child a safe and enjoyable arena to practice, perform, repeat, and to create and explore new worlds.
The BL’s Anna Lobbenburg told The Guardian, “Being able to hold and manipulate tiny versions of ordinary objects is both powerful and delightful for children, helping them to take on new responsibilities and personas,” adding that the library hoped the project would help young readers gain confidence by playing the part of authors, illustrators, bookbinders and librarians (Guardian, 12/5/2020).
Children can share their homemade miniature books on the BL’s Twitter account @BL_Learning using the hashtag #DiscoveringChildrensBooks, or send them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to see the physical versions in the Curriculum Centre, too, on our return. If you would like some inspiration for your mini book, have a look at these famous children’s authors reading their own versions. Contributors to the project include Jacqueline Wilson, Alex Scheffler, Katherine Rundell and Philip Ardagh. My personal favourite is Viviane Schwarz reading her book, Lightening. SF Said (author of Varjak Paw) gives his top tips in this video clip.
This project forms just a small part of the BL’s wonderful online area for Discovering Children’s Literature.
The BL mini book initiative is a lovely idea for a lockdown project, as is this one, along similar lines, from our own local museum and library service. (If your experience is anything like mine, a recent increase in online shopping has generated a few extra cardboard boxes that could be put to good use.)
There are more ideas for making books on the excellent website Love My Books.