Pop Up Projects – 10 Years of Making a Difference
So we’re going to be 10 years old!
By we I mean Pop Up Projects, the little non-profit with big dreams I founded with a bunch of like-minds back in January 2011. I think of Pop Up as a movement, guided by people and ideas, powered by a collective vision that literature is a powerful force that can, if used well, provoke and transform and catalyze change. It’s an old cliche but I might as well say it: children’s literature is magic. Its spirit empowers voice, forges identity, fosters wonder, builds relationships between us, lights up the dark, and kickstarts revolution. These are the bricks that Pop Up is built from.
When we set out on our journey we had no idea we’d make it to our 10th birthday. That over 100,000 children would come on that journey with us. We got here despite the savageries of Austerity and Covid; we managed to rise and thrive while xenophobia and populism – everything that literature isn’t – swirled everywhere we looked. You could say we’ve been fed by these things, that these conditions have provided more reason for us to do what we do. Because divisions need to be bridged. Because books build connections to other people, places, worlds. Because good words build good worlds.
It would seem inevitable, really, that one day we’d publish our own books. 10 Stories to Make a Difference, our 10th birthday project, is not just a celebration of everything we’ve achieved, it’s also an announcement that our work has only just begun.
Because of the work we do developing and promoting talented voices in writing and illustration, we’re regularly encountering unpublished writers and illustrators who have great stories to tell. 10 Stories provides a new platform for some of those voices. By facilitating collaborations with already-published writers and illustrators – for instance pairing former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell with Krista Lambert, one of four winners of our 10th birthday international writing competition for under-26 year-olds. By drawing on the wealth of editorial talent we’re able to tap into – bringing teams of volunteering editors and art directors into the Pop Up movement to ensure that the 10 books we make are of the highest calibre.
We all know there’s a shocking lack of inclusion of ‘minority’ identities in children’s books today. Characters of colour, disabled characters, characters who are LGBTQ are hard to find, and too often their identities drive the plots. There’s a genuine desire and drive across the publishing industry to include those ‘missing people’ who rarely find homes in children’s books. We want 10 Stories to complement publishers’ ambitions, and to put diverse new voices into print to attract their attention. But we also want to make a difference now, not tomorrow.
Our hope is that 10 Stories comes to represent a major stepping stone in the journeys those 10 previously unpublished writers and illustrators make into the hearts and minds of young readers. And if it works – if we can put 10,000 of these books into children’s hands – then 10 Stories will become an annual event, always investing in new talent while raising vital funds to support our grassroots work in schools and communities.
If YOU can lend a hand to help us make this possible, by pledging and donating on our Crowdfunder, then you’ll be playing your part in nurturing a more diverse next generation of children’s authors.
Dylan Calder is founder and Executive & Creative Director of Pop Up Projects CIC.
A special thanks to all the authors who contributed work to this collection; to the volunteers from publishers including Egmont, Walker, Nobrow, PenguinRandomHouse, Lantana, Scholastic, Andersen, Simon & Schuster, Usborne and Oxford University Press; and a special thank you to Baxter & Bailey design agency for donating their time to transform these beautiful stories into beautiful books.