English and Drama blog

On literature and theatre collections from the 16th century to the present day

17 March 2023

Fairy tales and creative campaigns

by Gwen Morris, Digital Learning Administrator, the British Library Learning team. 

In this post, Gwen reflects on her role and her work on our digital campaigns for primary schools. These creative campaigns aim to spark love of reading, writing and drawing, in response to the treasures on our Discovering Children’s Books website. Our current campaign (running until 28 March 2023) invites children to cook up their own fairy tales with tips from Michael Rosen, Sandra Agard and other brilliant storytellers. Schools from across the UK are making little books and filling them with their own stories, inspired by tales of the past.

What’s a typical day for you as the Digital Learning Administrator?

My role as Digital Learning Administrator is varied and fulfilling. I especially enjoy collaborating with my colleagues to provide teachers and students with exciting online learning resources.

My day often begins with a team meeting to discuss our digital campaigns. These range from making miniature books to ‘Step inside your story’, which puts young writers at the heart of their own tales and proves that everyone can be an author. Our meetings are a great opportunity for me to learn from my colleagues’ points of view as we share ideas for our campaigns.

CUYOFT image 22
Michael Rosen created a film revealing what makes fairy tales special, with brilliant animations by Allen Fatimaharan
CUYOFT-cinderella fairy-new
Cinderella’s fairy godmother turns lizards into footmen. Shelfmark: 12410.r.5. Title: Cinderella, retold by C S Evans and illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1919). Public Domain.

Once we’ve decided on a theme and an activity, our next step is to spread the word to schools across the UK. It’s my job to send out emails to our target schools and to keep track of which schools have signed up. Our Outreach campaigns are designed to support schools in low socio-economic areas, so I do a lot of research to make sure that we’re contacting those most in need of our support.

As a member of the Digital Learning Team, I also help with the process of building webpages so that our resources are accessible online to anyone who wants to use them. Although I had some experience in creating digital content before starting in this role, I’m glad I’ve been able to receive training in this area as it’s helped me grow in confidence whilst learning different strategies for improving SEO. Since completing the training, I’ve enjoyed putting these strategies into practice on our Learning website.

This Roma story by Richard O’Neill is one of the stories featured in our fairy tales project. It depicts the Parno Gry, a magical horse who takes children to wonderful faraway places. Shelfmark: LC.31.a.20058. Title: Yokki and the Parno Gry (2016). Reproduced by kind permission of Child's Play (International) Ltd. Text copyright © 2016 Richard O’Neill and Katharine Quarmby. Illustrations copyright © 2016 Child's Play (International) Ltd. First published 2016 by Child's Play. All rights reserved. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

Do you have a favourite digitised collection item from Discovering Children’s Books?

I absolutely love looking through Quentin Blake’s rough sketches of Matilda. Matilda was my favourite book growing up and these sketches bring back lovely memories of laughing at Matilda’s antics with my family.

DCB interviews
Discovering Children’s Books features interviews with authors and illustrators including Quentin Blake, Jacqueline Wilson, Zanib Mian, Joseph Coelho and Julia Donaldson.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

One of the most wonderful things is seeing the fantastic stories we receive from schools and families across the UK. When a campaign is launched, we ask teachers, parents and guardians to send us photos of the children’s work and I’m always amazed by the quality of submissions. There’s nothing better than opening my inbox to find stories about time-travelling cats and magic shoes!

Overall, it’s been a joy to take on this role at the British Library.

Millbrook Park Primary  Mill Hill 1
Fairy tales © Millbrook Primary School, Mill Hill.
St George's C of E Primary  Barrow-in-Furness 1 (1)
Step inside your story entries © St George’s Church of England Primary School, Barrow-in-Furness.

To learn more about our online learning resources, visit Discovering Children's Books, Discovering Literature and Windrush Stories – or explore our full offer.