Christmas may be fast approaching, but we’re already looking forward to opening up the doors of a very special interactive story space in the New Year…
The Storybarn, located at our Head Office at Calderstones, is Liverpool’s first children’s literature centre, giving families and young people a place to play, learn and discover the magic, pleasure and imagination that comes from stories. Our Storybarn team have been busy over the past few months creating some exciting things inside and The Storybarn will be ready to explore from February 2016, alongside a very special exhibition arriving at Calderstones Mansion.
Once There Was…The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers will let visitors to Calderstones into the stories of popular children’s artist and illustrator Oliver Jeffers from Monday 8th February – Monday 18th April 2016. Created, designed and produced by Discover Children’s Story Centre, the immersive exhibition is designed especially for children aged 3-6 and allows children and families to walk through environments inspired by books including How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found, Up and Down and The Way Back Home. Key aspects of these beautiful books have been reimagined into 3D such as the South Pole, the boy’s bedroom, a garden featuring a rocket, a street of magical shops and a Lost and Found Office.
Once ticketholders have explored The Wonderful World of Oliver Jeffers at the Mansion, they’ll be able to head across to The Storybarn to be one of the first to experience the interactive story space inside. Storytellers will bring the barn to life with a variety of tales and craft activity throughout their visitor experience.
Tickets for both experiences will go on sale in January 2016, but those wishing to gain priority booking can register their interest now at www.thestorybarn.org.uk
Tickets to both experiences will be £9 per child including a free adult for an hour in each space. Once the Oliver Jeffers exhibition has closed entry to the Storybarn will be £5 per child with group rates available for large parties and schools. Tickets for the exhibitions cannot be purchased separately.
It’s been over a year since we signed the lease on Calderstones Mansion, making it ours for 125 years, and we were able to celebrate how far we’ve come in the past year at our AGM earlier this month. Throughout the evening, the Mansion fulfilled its purpose of being a home to our group members – some of whom had never visited our home at Calderstones before – who enjoyed good food courtesy of The Reader Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour as well as the atmosphere inside.
At present, nine of our weekly reading groups take place at the Mansion with new groups planned for the future – two of which are starting up in November, giving even more opportunity to visit. It’s not only our regular readers who are finding a home for themselves – our volunteering programme is expanding its reach, taking on a team of volunteers of all ages and walks of life to model how our community at Calderstones will work in future, and special visitors such as young people from the City of Readers summer school have already shown the potential of the Mansion as a place to make magic happen.
And the process has already begun…since the signing of the lease in September 2014, we’ve been able to record some figures on how the Mansion is coming back to life. In just one year, we have:
shared reading with 20,553 people – an average of 395 each week
welcomed 4,600 people through the doors for a programme of public literary events
There’s been a lot going on at Calderstones Mansion in the last few months – with lots of help from the hardworking and generous team at Prinovis, we’ve been able to open our first refurbished Reading Room to enable our group members to enjoy weekly sessions even more, and the summer has seen a number of outdoor productions stop off at the Garden Theatre, including shows from Illyria, MATE Productions and three sell-out performances of Romeo and Juliet from The Globe On Tour, with not even a spot or two of rain enough to dampen proceedings.
We are creating an International Centre for Reading at Calderstones, so it’s fitting that we could welcome a special visitor from the other side of the world earlier this month. Shirley Bateman, Reader Development Team Leader from Melbourne Library Service came to The Reader HQ as part of her tour of literary projects around the UK and Ireland. As well as hearing all about the City of Readers campaign, Jane took Shirley on a tour of Calderstones, including the amazing Prinovis Reading Room. You can read more about the visit on Shirley’s blog: https://shirleybateman.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/more-famous-than-the-beatles/
More exciting news is just around the corner…development of the Storybarn, the North West’s first interactive story centre for children and families, is taking shape outside HQ as we type, and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors from far and wide when it opens this Autumn. The Storybarn has been made possible thanks to funding from the Social Investment Business and their Liverpool City Region Impact Fund – our Head of Facilities Craig spoke to SIB about the plans for the Storybarn and how it will encourage imagination and a love of reading in future generations: