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#EUinmyregion: The workshop that gets kids reading their hearts out

by - Mamans d'Europe (Sandra Dranne Foussier)



Hello, hallo, buon giorno fellow parents in Europe,

A few weeks ago, baby Lou, my husband and I attended our first edition of the " Croq’ les mots, marmot " ("Read your hearts out, kids") workshop in Mayenne. This workshop, aimed at small infants, is one of a kind. Public readings, shows, exhibitions... it's a rich programme that has proved thrilling for children and adults alike in north Mayenne.

It all started for baby Lou and myself when we popped into an independent bookshop M’lire and had a chat with the shop owner. She recommended a "pop up" style book by Annette Tamarkin, a Belgian author. The bookshop owner showed me some information about a workshop taking place in Mayenne where babies of Lou's age were actually the target audience.

That's when I discovered that the sponsor behind the 5th "Croq les mots, marmots" workshop was Elzbieta, an illustrator of children's books who was born in Poland. I'm a huge fan of her childish, yet serious characteristic drawing style. I found out that she fled her country of origin during the war and came to live in France, and subsequently the United Kingdom. I'd read her children's books and borrowed them from my local library. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the workshop, and since then I've been reading her books with my daughter.

Couverture de « Clown » d’Elzbieta, crédit photo Croq les mots marmots

Cover of "Clown" by Elzbieta,
photo credit Croq les mots marmots

When we arrived at the workshop, we discovered its attractive design complete with children's furniture, animals for colouring in, a performance area, and a reading corner.

Animaux à colorier, crédit photo Croq les mots marmots
Animals for colouring in; photo credit 'Croq les mots marmots'

We sat in on a reading performed by two volunteers. The combination of music, nursery rhymes and expressive readings made for a very enjoyable experience. Baby Lou was enthralled by the jingling bells and magnetic animals they used during the readings.

We played with a red magnifying glass to find the drawings hidden around the "Cache-cache ville" (hide and seek city) exhibition created by Vincent Godeau and Agathe Demois, the artists in residence for the workshop. This year's new unique concept involved working on the digital reading experience for toddlers. Baby Lou sat at a table in one of the 'digital' spaces, and together, we were able to use tablets equipped with reading apps for children. Each child was allotted a maximum of 30 minutes to spend on this activity. She'd left her chair in less than 5 minutes...

The artists in residence, Vincent Godeau and Agathe Demois; photo credit 'Croq les mots marmots'

The artists in residence, Vincent Godeau and Agathe Demois; photo credit 'Croq les mots marmots' 

Later, we had the chance to wander around the huge bookshop area, where we also met the illustrators. I was very impressed with the quantity and quality of books available for young children.

We finished our visit with a crêpe prepared by Payaso Loco who were in charge of running the eating area and offered a range of vegetarian and local products.

The great thing is, the workshop is co-financed by the European Union through the LEADER programme for innovation in rural areas. It is a great asset for the local area as it brings together professional actors on the allocated day (Friday) and provides a workshop, free of charge, for the public at the weekend.

What about you, do you like book workshops? Do you read with your children? Do you often visit the library? Tell us your thoughts.

This article is my contribution to the "EU in my region" competition organised by the European Commission.

Original version