Child's play for new book exhibition

From the never-ending adventures of Peter Pan to shipwrecked tales from Robinson Crusoe, Growing Up with Books will chart a magical journey through centuries of children’s books.

pic growing up booksThe new exhibition which opens on 1 June at The Museum of Childhood, will provide a free shared experience for children and adults to recount and discover those timeless tales which first prompted a lifelong love of reading and inspire a new generation to discover the many wonders waiting to be discovered through children’s books.

The exhibition has been developed over the course of a two year project through a collaboration between Scotland’s Early Literature for Children Initiative (SELCIE) at the University of Edinburgh and the Museum of Childhood, focusing on the many hundreds of books which have been donated to the museum over the years.

Growing Up with Books, which runs up to 9 December, will include a selection of the 15,000 books in the Museum collection, from the 18th Century through to the 20th Century, featuring some well-known and much loved characters and tales, as well as many new discoveries, including personal messages from those who have previously owned and loved the books.

The new exhibition which is free to enter, will provide residents and visitors to Edinburgh of all ages to enter into a world of books and stories, discovering (or rediscovering) a lifelong imaginative journey. Curated into five themes: Learning to Read, Worlds of Knowledge, Shaping Identities, Worlds of Imagination and The Lives of Children’s Books, visitors will be taken on a journey through the various wonders which lie in wait behind the pages of the many hundreds of books from the museum’s archive, which will be on show for the first time.

Perhaps the most wonderful element of the collection is the souvenirs and messages which have been found scribbled in margins and tucked away into book pages by previous owners. For example, it isn’t known where the previous owner of Little Women picked the flowers they kept inside it, or why they kept the bus ticket that is tucked beside them, but it is fascinating to wonder what memories they prompted. The oldest book in the collection, Grammatica Philippi Melanthonis which was written in 1554 carries the intriguing inscription - “David Peirson est huius codicis verus possessor” which translates as “David Peirson is the true owner of this book”. 

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This display celebrates that one childhood activity that never gets old – the joy of a good book. A love of reading is developed at a young age and travels with you, and these books have clearly been treasured and on a few journeys!

“As the first exhibition to open at the newly refurbished Museum of Childhood, Growing Up With Books is a great opportunity for visitors to explore the new ground floor space before enjoying a trip through centuries of children’s literature. I am particularly pleased that from 1 June all of the Council’s Museums and Galleries will be open seven days a week, which means everyone will be able to enjoy the new space and this exhibition all summer long."

Lyn Stevens, Museum of Childhood Curator said: “This project has been a wonderful opportunity to explore the Museum of Childhood’s book collection and reveal to our visitors the treasures that have been found.  We have selected a fantastic range of books for the exhibition that will let visitors reminisce about some of their favourite stories and also learn how over the years children’s books have evolved and been used.” 

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