In June 2017, Penguin Random House UK and Ministry of Stories launched 17 new picture books, which were written by children aged between 8 and 12 and brought to life by volunteer illustrators.
The children attended weekend workshops at the Ministry of Stories’ creative hub in Shoreditch to write stories ‘for their younger selves’. Each child was then matched with their own volunteer illustrator, who brought their stories to life on the page. Penguin Random House UK has now published the young people’s stories as real picture books. Each child worked closely with their illustrator and had creative control over their picture book, explaining what their stories looked like and sketching ideas together.
The collection of picture books is so exciting, as it offers a glimpse into how the children see their world right now. It includes a story about two toucans who travel to England in search of jobs and become violinists in an orchestra, a rhyming book about a boy and his magical football boots that stop working when they get muddy, a classic fairy tale which sees potions and magic spells transform a princess into a giraffe just in time for her coronation, and the beautiful The Moon and Montgomery, about a little boy who wants to go to the moon but is too small.
The unique publishing project is part of a partnership between Penguin Random House UK and Ministry of Stories, which is now in its second year. Since 2016, the publisher has been supporting the charity’s efforts to reach new communities through both funding and expertise, through inspiring authors and employees to volunteer and fundraise. Together, their goal is to help close the creativity gap for 7,500 children across the UK by 2018. The picture book project has enabled a creative collaboration between children, illustrators, and Penguin Random House UK to captivate the imagination of the children and help them to realise their creative potential.
Ministry of Stories, a creative writing and mentoring space, co-founded by Penguin Random House author, Nick Hornby, in 2010, helps young people aged 8-18 discover and realise their own creative potential through innovative creative writing programmes, including after-school writing workshops. By making writing fun and accessible they help young people find their voices and unleash their imaginations, building their confidence in thinking and producing creatively.
Over 200 Penguin Random House UK employees have been involved in other ways with the Ministry of Stories partnership, from mentoring to fundraising challenges, to volunteering with Hoxton Street Monster Supplies to offer their professional expertise as editors.