The Magic of Pop-Up Books

January 26th, 2022 – Renee Jackson, Youth Services

Every once in a while, patrons will come up and ask me, “Where are your pop-up books?”  It’s a reasonable question; especially for the Youth Services area of the library.  We have a shelf of pop-up books that are stored in our office area and are occasionally used in our storytimes. We keep them away from the public because of how fragile the books are. Even when we show pop-up books in storytime, there are times that something in the book gets folded back wrong. We do have a few lift-the-flap books in our public collection; many are in the board book section.

I will never forget the first time I showed a pop-up book in a storytime. It was magical! I was not prepared for the excited reactions from the participants. There were “oohs” and “aahs”, as if they were watching a fireworks display.

I have always had a fascination with books with moveable parts (I even made a pop-up “book” out of one of our Summer Reading Club booklets!). This is why I have started a pop-up paper program for 9-12 year-olds called Cards that Pop, Slide and Twirl. Though pop-up books can be very intricate, there are easy projects that can be done that look deceptively difficult.  This monthly program will have a few projects in the same “family” of pop-ups. For instance, the first program had a project of valentine cards where the way you cut the heart out will determine if the card has a movement that goes up or straight out at the recipient of the card. Next month’s cards will be all about sliding parts (including a pull tab slide that will bring an alligator to a birthday cake).  

As I have been working on these programs (and this blog post), I have found some fun facts about pop-up and moveable books:

1. The first known pop-up book was made by a monk in 1250…or by a Catalan Mystic in the 1300s…or as the first published book in the 1700s. (Thank you, Wikipedia, for that clear answer to my history of pop-up book questions).

2. The first moveable books actually contained information for adults. It wasn’t until the 1800s that books were created to entertain children. 

3. Though many of these books can now be manufactured, some are still handmade before sending them out for sale.

As folks found out centuries ago, pop-up and moveable books are truly for audiences of any age! If you have a little one, consider coming to one of our 11:00am public storytimes – Preschoolers on Tuesdays, Babies on Wednesdays, and Toddlers on Thursdays. We share a bunch of wonderful books, literacy tips for families to use, and every once in a while…a wonderfully different, magical pop-up book.

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