There is nothing like a good book. If I had a motto or a catchphrase, this would probably be it. I have loved books since I was a child and to my delight Leo loves them too. Children’s books in particular are so very special, they help develop our children’s ever growing imagination through exciting stories, funny rhymes and wonderful illustrations. Of course books are key in developing children’s all important literary skills too.
Leo and I spent this weekend with my sister in Oxford and on Saturday Leo went on his first ever museum trip. After being recommended by friends to my sister, we all went on a visit to The Story museum, a place that celebrates the amazing world of books.
My first impression of The Story Museum was that it didn’t feel like a museum at all. As soon as we walked through the door we were greeted by lovely staff and a very quirky little cafe. We paid for our tickets and sat down for a drink before we went in to the museum to check out the exhibitions. The children enjoyed drawing on the blackboard table tops and my sister and I were able to enjoy our teas in peace. Instead of pictures of art or photographs, the cafe walls are decorated with upside down tables and chairs, it all feels very Wonderland-esque. A magnificent ‘preserved’ cake, made by Winnie the Witch herself (!) stands tall on display in the cafe, my 10 year old niece was very impressed by this, the younger boys on the other hand were upset they couldn’t eat it.
After our tea break we headed into a separate building where all the exhibitions are. Illustrations decorate the stairwell and the feel of the building is very far away from any art gallery or museum I have visited before, but in a good way. Our first stop was the Draw me a story exhibition, a large room featuring original prints and artwork from children’s book illustrators such as Quentin Blake, Emily Gravett and Mini Grey. As well as all the pictures on the wall, there is a treasure hunt game for the children to play, making the experience more interactive and fun for kids. There is a board at the entrance covered in little pockets and in each pocket are some small objects, you then have to go and find the picture where these objects belong. My niece and my nephew who is 5 enjoyed the treasure hunt, Leo was too busy exploring the vast amount of space to get properly involved.
|Museums are fun!|
The lovely volunteers at the museum handed out little drawing books to the children which encouraged them to draw their own story. A room was set up with tables and chairs, lots of colouring pencils and even a professional sketching illustrator board. Although Leo had a bit of a tantrum to start with, all four kids enjoyed sitting down and getting some serious drawing done, Professional illustrators regularly visit The Story Museum and are put to work in the Illustrator Zoo, a room where you can watch a professional at work and have a chat with them as well – you can find a list of illustrators visiting soon here. This is a great opportunity for children to find out more about becoming an artist or just a chance to meet the people behind some of their favourite characters.
|Drawing a story.|
Next we moved on to The Changing Room, a room full of more fancy dress clothes than you could ever imagine. This room is home to the only talking throne I have ever seen and we spent the majority of our visit dressing up, creating crazy names for ourselves, sitting on the throne and listening to it announce us. My nephew and his friend had great fun using all the boards to create silly names and my niece loved trying on loads of different clothes. Leo wasn’t really sure what was going on but he enjoyed attempting to scale the massive throne and trying on lots of different hats – hats are awesome but fairy wings and cat ears are not! My sister and I joined in on the fun too, who doesn’t love fancy dress?
|Dressing up fun…|
|Tantrum avoided, thank you hats!|
Once we had finished dressing up we headed on over to the Time for bed exhibition, this was by far the children’s favourite part of the museum. On arriving at the exhibition, we were encouraged to get cosy in one of the dressing gowns provided and the children all chose a book from the varied selection available, grabbed a cuddly toy and snuggled up on the biggest bed I have ever seen..ever. All six of us fit on it with loads of room to spare. The whole room is inspired by award winning children’s book, The Baby who wouldn’t go to bed. There are drapes over the ceiling, fairy lights, a small bed with baskets around it where you can lay your teddies down for a rest, as well as a smaller room with a sensory wall and lullaby’s playing in the background. It was nice to cuddle up and read to Leo and the whole atmosphere calmed down the very excitable older children. We spent the last of our visit in this amazing bedroom, all wishing we could fit a giant bed into our own rooms at home.
|Everyone loves a bedtime story.|
|I need this bed in my life!|