Writing Children's Books

Image shows a number of front covers of children's books.

Children's books

© Culture Street

    • Seven Stories in Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a huge archive and museum all about children’s books. They have a library with over 35,000 books and their collections have material from over 250 authors. Our friends at Culture Street took a group of kids from Jarrow Cross Primary School to explore the collections and to learn about what Seven Stories does, you can watch what they got up to in this quick video.

      They learnt all about how Seven Stories works to preserve stories written for children from as far back as 1930. They put on exhibitions and activities for children that help you to get involved in the story; they even have costumes so you can dress up as your favourite characters! This got us thinking here at Show Me about why kids’ books are so important when you could just as easily watch a film or a TV programme. One of the things we think is so special about books is that when you read them you can use your imagination to bring the characters to life. This means that you can imagine the characters just as you think they should be and you can make the story your own. This is something you can’t do with films and TV.

      A section of books on a bookshelfBooks© Culture Street
      Another thing that Seven Stories can teach us is about all the different people and processes which go into making a book. You can watch this video which looks at the example of Robert Westall’s classic children’s book ‘The Machine Gunners’. Seven Stories has carefully preserved many of Westall’s original, hand-written, drafts so we can see all the little changes he made to the story. You might have written a first draft if you’ve written a story before.

      Image shows a close up of a page from Robert Westall's book 'The Machine Gunners'A clip from 'The Machine Gunners'© Culture Street
      As well as his hand-written drafts, Seven Stories look after the typed notes which Westall sent to the editors before the book was published. This shows us all the different people who are involved in the making of a book, so even if you’re not a natural writer you might be a great editor or illustrator.

      Westall wasn’t a professional writer when he wrote The Machine Gunners, he started out as an art teacher and wrote the story in his spare time. It’s nice to know that anyone can be a writer if they have a story to tell. Why don’t you have a go at making your own story with this Picture Book Maker from Culture Street?

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