NSSM Guest Post from Seven Stories

A Place for Stories

Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

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Hannah Lambert

Marketing and Digital Coordinator

Seven Stories is the National home of children’s books – there is not another place like it in the UK and is based in the heart of the vibrant cultural hub that is Ouseburn, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

It’s a place dedicated to sharing all kinds of stories which are told, retold, loved, shared, discovered and explored on a daily basis.

Seven Stories - The National Centre for Children's Books

Seven Stories celebrated its 10th birthday last year with plenty of celebrations and memories looking back over the years to when the centre was established in its permanent Tyneside home.  Conveniently, there are seven storeys to the specially converted Victorian warehouse where the Newcastle museum is based!  Seven Stories was and continues to be pioneering in its approach to bringing books and stories to life through lively exhibitions, playful performances and learning programmes.   10 years on and over 2 million people have enjoyed and experienced Seven Stories’ exhibitions and activities through events for all ages, through school workshops and outreach projects across the region.  We even have a collection of material relating to children’s books – not just the finished work. Our Collection includes rough artwork, draft manuscripts, dummy books, editors’ notes and anything else that helps us understand how books are created.  The Seven Stories Collection includes material by over 250 authors and illustrators significant to children’s literature from the 1930s to present day such as Judith Kerr, Enid Blyton, Philip Pullman, Robert Westall and Edward Ardizzone.

bookworm babies

Our building and programme of events is enjoyed by everyone – from our Bookworm Babies making their first foray into the joys of a good book to families spending the day together immersed in a workshop, author event or perusing the exhibitions.  Sensory Backpacks – beautiful, bespoke bags full of handcrafted tactile props – are available to borrow to help families of all ages engage with the artwork and stories in our exhibitions.  We welcome interested adults and children’s literature enthusiasts and we’re growing our lively chatter about the latest YA book with some of the keenest bookworms out there!  Dedicated Story Catchers work daily in the museum to inspire our visitors with story times, musical renditions and help to engage them with the original artwork, manuscripts, author scribbles and illustrator doodles that cover the walls of our exhibitions.

Story Catcher leading lively story time

The master of storytelling himself – Michael Morpurgo – is one of our most recent and most significant acquisitions to the Seven Stories Collection and we’re very excited for the launch of our latest exhibition dedicated to his archive which opens Saturday 2 July.  [link to exhibition information http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/exhibitions/michael-morpurgo ] This is another opportunity to celebrate the power of sharing stories using unseen original material from Michael’s prolific career.  Michael is passionate about storytelling.  When Michael was last at Seven Stories to celebrate the donation of his archive he shared his experience of being a writer and coming up with new stories:

For me the most important thing is to keep your antennae out – look, listen, learn, read and above all feel… Reading is really important – the more you read and the more widely you read, the better.”

Michael Morpurgo donates entire archive to Seven Stories - The National Centre for Children's Books

Michael oozes stories, passionate about the telling and so skilled at breathing life into any poem or story he shares.  Michael Morpurgo – A Lifetime in Stories exhibition will open on Saturday 2 July at Seven Stories and families will have opportunity to fully immerse in Michael’s stories and creative process. Visitors should “keep their antennae out” and soak up what they see, hear and read in this exhibition and the rest of their experience at Seven Stories in order to spark their imaginations and create the next generation of world-class stories.

It doesn’t end in Newcastle – through our extensive Touring Exhibition programme, we are able to share a flavour of Seven Stories across the nation from top to toe and everywhere in between.  Our exhibitions, created and showcased on Tyneside have also been enjoyed in Belfast, Hull, Kilmarnock, Wolverhampton, London and Cardiff to name but a few locations.

Visitors engage with Jim Kay illustrated Harry Potter and Philosophers Stone in Illustrating Harry Potter exhibition

We have just said goodbye to the phenomenally successful Illustrating Harry Potter exhibition at Seven Stories. Not only do we love J.K. Rowling’s epic series, we loved sharing the story of how award-winning illustrator Jim Kay reimagined such an iconic book. We loved exploring Jim’s own creative story and marvelling at how he took the oh-so-familiar and much-loved books on their own new journey.  It’s always a little sad to wave off an exhibition but thrilled to send it on to a new home so that more visitors can be inspired to share stories together.

Come share a story with us sometime and allow your imagination to roam far and wide.

[Touring Exhibitions link http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/exhibitions/touring-exhibitions]

Illustrating Harry Potter will open at Hannahs at Seale Hayne, Newton Abbot, Devon, Sunday 3rd July until 25th September 2016.

Find out more about our Collection [link http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection/collection-highlights ]

Make the Most of Your Day at Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books [link http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/visit/everyday ]

Follow us on social media – we’d love to hear from you #sevenstories @7stories Facebook.com/7Stories

Keep up to date with all our news and find out what really makes a National Centre tick when you follow our All the Family and Collection Blogs [link http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/news/blogs

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups. All images  © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books, photography by Damien Wootten

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