Drawn Into Stories

In 2020, Collected Works CIC, launched an ambitious children’s literacy initiative: Drawn Into Stories, working with all three primary schools in Whitehawk, East Brighton.

The project, led by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, offers children in East Brighton, exclusive access to an impressive line-up of professional author/illustrators, including Sophy Henn, Adam Stower and Steven Lenton, and will be exploring the importance of illustration in developing children’s engagement with and comprehension of stories, and look at whether a rich, varied and sustained programme of arts based activities can improve children’s reading, transferable skills, creativity and knowledge. 

 ‘I’m excited about Drawn Into Stories and proud to be involved. As a fan of keeping a visual diary myself, I like the fact that Collected Works will be giving every child, teacher and illustrator involved a sketchbook to document their own personal journey. It is important to support imagination and projects like this allow children to discover their own creativity.’  Chris Riddell, lead illustrator, Drawn into Stories.

There will also be several Continued Professional Development (CPD) sessions for Whitehawk teachers during the programme. These will be delivered by well known illustrators (including Nick Sharratt and Liz Pichon). Collected Works’ believes giving teachers the skills to tell stories through illustration, is as important as supporting creativity in children. Although the Whitehawk estate is Brighton & Hove’s most deprived area, it boasts a vibrant and engaged community and Drawn Into Stories has already been warmly received by teachers and community leaders.

Thomas McMorrin, Deputy Headteacher at City Academy Whitehawk said: We are really proud of the quality of our children’s creative writing and we’re keen to explore the ways in which illustrations can enhance this. Our teachers deliver a creative curriculum and we consider ourselves very lucky to be able to explore new avenues of creativity using illustration skills taught by much-loved experts like Sophy Henn. The current Year Fives were taught using a novel illustrated by Chris Riddell last year so they were excited to hear about his involvement. It is a privilege for our school to be involved in a project like this, to learn from experts and work closely with other East Brighton schools and we can’t wait to watch the children develop new skills!

Michelle Marcar, Teacher at St John the Baptist added: As a Year 4 teacher, having the opportunity to introduce children to ‘real life’ authors and illustrators is so exciting, and very impactful to young learners. It adds a new dimension to their experience of reading and an appreciation of how books and stories are developed. For children to have the chance to see and learn from professionals is something that I am sure, will remain with them forever, and who knows, just might plant the seed for them to become authors themselves….’

Three of the illustrators involved in the Year 1 of the project: Chris Riddell, Sophy Henn and Adam Stower studied Illustration at the University of Brighton, and the University has been secured as a partner in the two year programme of activity.

Sarah Hutchings, Director of Collected Works CIC said: Drawing is an important form of communication that can encapsulate big ideas, simply and economically. This project allows the participating children space to express what they are thinking and feeling, through illustration, while being mentored by professionals. Nurturing children’s creative independence is essential to the development of their writing, reading and understanding, and we are hugely grateful to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for believing in our ideas and supporting us to test and explore our approaches.

The project has been funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation.