On Friday, 4th of November, 2005 Myrto Lykopoulou (Art Therapist and new wonderful friend of Atlantis Books) led a day of activities with the children of Oia’s Primary School. Myrto came especially from Athens to invite the local kids and to spark their imaginations as they become authors of their own fantasy story.
The activity was based on the idea that each child would leave the bookshop having started to create their own fantasy book. Myrto prepared a booklet for each child using one of Nikos’s photographs of Oia as a front cover template on which they could draw, and lined pages inside on which to write out their story, all bound together by diligently chosen coloured string!
The kids came in three groups of fifteen for an hour to an hour and a half workshop. Each session began with them huddling in the bookshop and exchanging their ideas with Myrto about how books inspire our fantasy and imagination.
She asked them to describe the qualities that they felt books possessed; to relate them to their own experience of reading a story and the ways in which they used their imagination to conjure images found in a narrative.
She made a point of distinguishing between watching movies, looking at pictures, and reading words as different ways of imagining events and characters in a story. She threw examples at them found all around the shop: Alice and her size-changing potions; the Hobbit and his ring that made him invisible; Harry Potter and his flying broomstick -to name but a few of the topics of discussion.
From their exchange with Myrto the little ones set off to find their drawing boards around the shop. This would be the beginning of their grand career as little authors! Their mission was to let loose their imagination: to create their own fantasy narrative and to draw its cover on the template image at the front of their book.
Nikos’s photograph offered them a very familiar image of their home town, while at the same time providing a wonderful blank canvas of a long staircase, a portal behind which anything could lie and a blank stone wall on which they could splash out actions of heroes and heroines capable of doing magical and wondrous things in a familiar everyday setting.
They drew donkeys that fly and princesses that fall in love with princes that live in castles with magic steps; superheroes with super lasers, airships that blow the walls to pieces, witches and wizards flying in all directions on all sorts of strange missions.
It was great observing their little brains unlock and work on freeing themselves to create something original! As the day went on we were surprised to see that the older the age group the more difficult it was for the kids to act instinctively: they asked to be shown what was the ‘right’ way to do it. We insisted that there was no wrong or right way, and took their rubbers/erasers away!!
Having had their time to draw, talk with Myrto, imagine and draw some more, their sessions came to a close with the kids choosing the title of their book and writing it on their front cover. They each then came to Maria, waiting at the till like Father Christmas, to listen to a description of the cover and a synopsis of the narrative. With that, each book received an Atlantis Stamp on the back which recognised its ‘publication’ in the presence of the little author.
We couldn’t let them go without some not-too-sugary-biscuits and a drink offering from Uncle Luke, and of course each group sung us a song to say goodbye and thanks.
Cowboy sat barking on the terrace throughout…
- Photographs by Nikos Rigopoulos. Text by Myrto & Maria