If your children love stories then they will adore Seven Stories in Newcastle.
Seven Stories; The National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle is the UK’s only museum dedicated to children’s literature. It is one of our favourite days out in the North East.
Exhibitions change regularly but you can always guarantee original artwork, interactive exhibits and inspiring spaces to help children fall in love with stories. There’s often live story telling, craft, fancy dress, play stations and charismatic staff who help to ensure that your children have a brilliant time. It’s a unique day out, we’ve never been to another attraction like it.
Currently there are 4 exhibitions on at Seven stories, 2 which are ticketed and 2 which are free. Seven stories also run workshops with authors, actors and illustrators (for example a drawing magical creatures workshop), which are well worth attending. You can find out about upcoming events here.
Once there was Magic
Once there was magic is a ticketed exhibition – tickets cost £9.50 per person (babies under 1 are free) and you experience it in groups of up to 6.
This is an experience not to be missed for any magic lovers. Travelling through the Wildwoods with a wise wizard to guide you, your group will have to tackle 6 challenges before being able to return to the real world. The immersive exhibition includes original artwork, incredible special effects and portals exploring magical creatures, witches, Narnia, headology and more. The works of Cressida Cowell, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkein, J.K Rowling and Phillip Pullman among others are explored. Our family loved learning about each of the topics and having to problem solve in order to escape the rooms. Even our 2 year old could be heard shouting the answers to Squeezjoos.
This is a really clever and educational exhibition, but your children won’t even realise that they’re learning a thing as they’ll be having so much fun. We would highly recommend it.
Shifter of Shapes: exploring The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
Shifter of Shapes is another ticketed exhibition. Tickets cost £6.50 per person (children under 1 are free), for exclusive use of the exhibition. In groups of up to six, you can explore this reflective, inspiring space in quiet and seclusion. Afterwards there are crafts that you can do and complimentary hot and cold drinks.
To understand this exhibition, you need to know the history of the books “The Lost Words” and “The Lost Spells”. In 2007 a well known Children’s Dictionary took out a number of everyday words relating to nature, because they claimed that children weren’t familiar with them anymore – these words included “acorn”, “wren” and “bluebell” among others. Instead they were replaced with words relating to technology. In protest to this “The Lost Words” was created with acrostic poems and beautiful watercolour pictures celebrating each of the nature words that were removed from the dictionary. “The Lost Spells” is a more recent release, introducing a new set of nature words.
The Shifter of Shapes exhibition encourages you to slow down and step into nature. With beautiful music, displays of natural habitats for foxes, original artwork by Jackie Morris and an interactive audiovisual spellbook (this is enchanting, the children were enthralled and watched it several times!) it is a very special and unique exhibition. Even though it’s more like a traditional museum exhibition that others in seven stories, all our children (aged 2, 5 and 7) appreciated it and engaged well with the exhibits.
The exhibitions on level 4 are free. You don’t need to book a slot, but numbers are monitored to keep everyone safe. You may be asked to wait a few minutes before entering depending on numbers. Level 4 exhibitions include “Could there really be SEVEN STORIES in all the world?” and the lovely “Winnie and Wilbur make reading magic”.
This exhibition explores the fascinating idea that there are only 7 basic plots for every single story. Using children stories they explore each of the 7 basic plot lines. The exhibition is very interactive including shadow puppets, a castle, fancy dress and craft. We loved seeing Axel Scheffler’s original paintings of the Gruffalo, and Julia Donaldson’s notebook with the first handwritten version of the Gruffalo scribed inside it. The exhibition thoroughly engaged us all, from our wriggly 2 year old, to daddy who read every information board and several of the children’s books too!
Winnie and Wilbur make reading magic
The Winnie and Wilbur room is a delightful space with a huge blackboard where the children can draw the interior of Winnie’s house; there are lots of the Winnie and Wilbur books and cosy seating for parents to snuggle up to read with their children; and there’s a play area with fancy dress and a cauldron.
Seven stories has a coffee shop serving paninis, children’s lunch boxes and delicious cakes. It also has a beautiful children’s book shop.
Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books is quite simply a national treasure. If you haven’t been, it needs to be on your bucket list.