Stories on the go – Children-oriented interpretation

Can a simple park bench have a big effect on locals, visitors, and heritage? With just a small design intervention, it surely can.

Stories on the Go (Image: Ferencic)

Libraries jumping hurdles

In the small municipality of Virje, that spreads over geographically distant settlements, the local library, Public Library of Virje, tries to ensure equal access to library services for all the public. It has, however, come to light that children from the more distant villages are less likely to be driven to Virje and access the library. In trying to jump that hurdle, the library worked with a communal equipment factory and designed a special park bench. The bench backrest is transformed into a poster space. Not used for adverts, but for placing different stories and picture book adaptations. This way, as the inhabitants of the village go for a walk or run an errand, they will pass by a story. Hopefully, they will stop for a few minutes and read to a child. By exchanging stories, the library is making sure that no childhood goes without one of the most important ingredients – stories and fairytales. 

When a story grows

The enthusiasm of parents and children alike, in support of this project, made it clear that the community is the key. Several local writers and picture book authors expressed their interest to take part in the project, making their stories available free of charge. Volunteers were hired to help with graphic design in transforming picture books into poster spread stories. Plans have been made with nursery and primary school teachers to have children-made inserts put into the story-benches. So, now after one year, the project has taken on a life of its own.

Heritage for kids

St. Martin’s Day, on 11 November each year, is a special celebration in the municipality. As St. Martin is the patron saint of Virje, and Virje is on the European cultural route Via Sancti Martini, it is a special part of the year not only for the community but for visitors as well. For this occasion, the benches were given the role of heritage interpretation points for young children, thanks to a picture book called, The Tale of a Knight and Martin. This picture book was published by the Public Library of Virje before the story-bench project. It tells the tale of St Martin, his life and the lessons we can learn from him, all in a way that is relatable for preschool children. With simple, hand-drawn doodle-styled illustrations over colour photographs and dyslexia-friendly font type, the picture book provided great content for the story-benches.

The great reception of the whole project has provided inspiration in creating future heritage interpretation for children and families. 

Ivanka Ferenčić Martinčić is the librarian and library manager of the Public Library Virje. She is also a children's author, storyteller and IE Certified Interpretive Guide. You can contact her at: ivanka.martincic@virje.hr.

To cite this article:
Ferenčić, Ivanka (2020) ‘Stories on the go – Children-oriented interpretation‘. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 1-2020, 15.
Available online:
www.interpret-europe.net/fileadmin/Documents/publications/Newsletters/ie-newsletter_2020-1_spring.pdf

 

If you can give your son or daughter only one gift,
let it be enthusiasm.

Bruce Barton