Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 06 Nov 2018

The Pleasure of Pop-ups

There is something very special about working with seven and eight year olds. By this age they are usually growing in confidence, fervently enthusiastic about what they like and are able to express their opinions using a rich vocabulary. Being avid readers obviously helps with all of this and certainly seems to be the case every time that I visit Somers Park Primary School in Malvern to talk about books with Year Three children.

This time I took along a selection of my pop-up books illustrated by the great Robert Sabuda, feeling pretty sure that they would prove to be popular. In the past I have shown these to the whole class as part of a general presentation about beautiful books and the children have been unfailingly wide eyed and excited. For a change, the teacher suggested that it might be a good idea to work with smaller groups so that they could take plenty of time to look closely and marvel at the intricate paper engineering.

For crowd control purposes, I decided to ask each group of lively children to use their eyes only and try to save their verbal responses until the end of looking at each book. This proved to be almost impossible as several were bursting to tell me their reactions - as a compromise we agreed on loudly whispered comments to avoid disturbing the rest of the class who were busy doing science not very far away!

I was impressed with the wide range of reactions as they eagerly offered words like 'awesome’, ‘intriguing’, ‘enchanting’, ‘superb’, ‘precious’ and ‘epic’ to describe pop-up books. One girl quietly suggested that they made her ‘feel tired in a good way‘, an unusual comment which we discussed with the others, agreeing that she meant that there was so much to look at and be surprised by.

Several children asked to handle the books, which they all did with tremendous care and respect, despite an overall bubbling eagerness to lift various flaps and peer into the complicated structures. We finished each allocated half hour slot by using silver and gold pens on black paper to focus on one of the books and to sum up what they liked and why. Thomas wrote ‘I want to have the biggest collection’ and another boy wrote  'It is like you are inside the book’ which sums up the experience very neatly. If you take a few minutes to browse through their exquisite little drawings, you will be very impressed at the quality of the detail and the evident enthusiasm for the pop-up books.

I hope to return to do other small group work with these delightful children on a monthly basis and very much look forward to exploring more books together. My only dilemma is deciding which ones to take along for them to devour.


Karen Argent

November 2018

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