CFP – Crafts and Hobbies in Children’s Books

25th Annual NCRCL MA/IBBY UK Conference
Saturday, 10 November 2018
Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton
Crafts and Hobbies in Children’s Books

This year’s conference explores the significance of crafts and hobbies as theme, practice, motif, educational tool and generational bridge. We will be thinking about the historical shifts in the role and significance of these activities in childhood experience as depicted in a wide range of texts. We will examine the role of crafting and hobbies in children’s fiction and in picture books; think about the role of books in craft and hobby activities (including the handbooks of the Brownies, Scouts and Woodcraft Folk and the annuals of children’s TV shows such as Blue Peter); and consider the craft dimensions of books as material objects, looking at the use of collage and textile as illustrative components, at paper-cutting and pop-up books, and at books that are themselves craft or hobby objects (model-making books, sticker books). Discussion will cover the gendering of crafts and hobbies, the definition of a hobby (as distinct from a game or a toy), the vexed boundaries between arts and crafts, and craft as domestic or artisanal. Materials from the archives of the constituent colleges of the University of Roehampton will be on show, including weaving samples and patterns used in early Froebelian education and embroidery samplers from the Whitelands archive. The conference will include keynote presentations by well-known illustrators and craft practitioners, academics, and key figures in the children’s literature world. We will hear from Dr Jane Carroll of Trinity College, Dublin, an international specialist in the relationship between craft and children’s literature. As this year’s conference marks 25 years of the partnership between IBBY UK and the NCRCL and we are delighted that Professor Kim Reynolds, a long-time friend of both organisations, will be joining us for the celebration.

Proposals are welcomed for individual papers (20 minutes) on different aspects of craft and hobbies in relation to children’s books and reading, such as, but not only:

  • Craft and hobbies as themes in literary texts (for example stitching in Little Women, the sampler in Penelope Lively’s A Stitch in Time)
  • Craft and hobby instruction books for children
  • Craft and hobbies as theme/process in picture books (Faith Ringgold’s use of story quilts to map African American experience)
  • Non-craft hobbies and the books associated with them: train sets (and Thomas books), modelling (and role of kits), collecting, war-gaming (also craft element, eg Warhammer), digital hobbies (Minecraft, coding)
  • Paper-craft books – books that are themselves craft objects/materials
  • Craft/textiles as illustrative form (paper cutting, textiles, collage) (in the work, for instance, of Lauren Child and Mini Grey)
  • Books which feature dolls and toys as craft objects; as things to make and dress; as uncanny (Rumer Godden, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower; The Doll’s House)
  • Puppets and puppetry (issues as above)
  • Specific crafts in children’s books: knitting, sewing (quilting, dress making, toy making), weaving, woodworking, plus briefer crazes: macramé, origami, etc.
  • The gendering of hobbies and craft
  • Crafts and hobbies as effecting intergenerational bonds (grandparents, parents, passing on of skills)
  • Adult adoption of children’s hobbies (adult colouring books, train sets, lego building)
  • Craft as an educational tool
  • The ideology of craft and its historical changes (as an element in girls’ education; as work/not work in nineteenth century (Sarah Stickney Ellis); shifting distinctions between art and crafts, artisanal and domestic craft, hobbies and labour

We welcome contributions from interested academics, authors, illustrators, publishers etc. in any of these areas.

The deadline for proposals is Friday, 29 June 2018. Please email a 200-word abstract (for a 20-minute paper), along with a short biography and affiliation to: