Spotlight on…Karen Argent, Director of The Letterpress Project
( This interview has been published in the Nursery World magazine November 2016 )
What inspired the start of The Letterpress Project?
I have always been an avid book-lover, so when I recently retired from being a university lecturer in early childhood studies, with my husband I set up a not-for-profit project that focuses on the specialness of the printed book for readers of all ages. Like many others, we were concerned about the view that technology was becoming more desirable than printed books, particularly for children. I used to be an early years teacher and had always ensured that there was a wide selection of picture books available to be shared throughout every day. I also now have two young grandchildren and am busy rediscovering all the classics like The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and eagerly buying new titles too.
What do you offer to nurseries and other early years settings?
We have a well-established website with an ‘Inspiring Younger Readers’ section packed with reviews of recommended children’s books, author interviews and much more. I also offer ‘Wild Things and Gold Rings’ events to nurseries, schools and other settings, building on my knowledge of child development and my many academic research interests, which include picture books depicting characters with disabilities. I can design a bespoke session where I read a selection of stories using books from my extensive collection; for example, I have 20 different versions of The Three Little Pigs. Or I can do sessions with children, parents, practitioners or students, with a particular theme such as ‘ bears’ or ‘Christmas’ – anything, really.
What are your goals for the future?
I want to continue sharing my passion with parents and practitioners, particularly about the importance of books for the under-threes. Working with young children gives people permission to spend time enjoying beautiful picture books – what could be better?