Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

The Ministry of Stories

Image credit: Ministry of Stories

Image credit: Ministry of Stories

It sounds like something out of Harry Potter, but in reality, it’s way, way more magical. Since last fall,the London-based Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has sold a variety of goods from cans of Mortal Terror to Fang Floss. Behind a the store, however, hides The Ministry of Stories, a writing workshop intended to get young Brits excited about writing. Reports Springwise:

Once inside the workshop area, the group or class of children collaboratively create a story, which is illustrated by an artist in residence as they build the narrative. Once the story reaches its conclusion, the children must present the tale to ‘The Chief’ — the despotic editor — who, having approved the story, presents them each with a bound copy of their tale, complete with illustrations. During the creation process, the children are given assistance with their creative writing by the Ministry’s volunteers, who also offer sessions to mentor children and young adults aged 8-18 on a one-to-one basis on Thursdays and Saturdays.

This concept—store full of neat stuff as gateway, literally, to love of writing—may sound familiar to stateside readers. In fact, the Ministry of Stories was inspired by 826 Valencia and the other 826es around the country. The organization’s site explains:

Some of us on this side of the Atlantic liked the sound of that and we thought London could do something similar. With Dave Eggers’ blessing, and led by writer Nick Hornby, we set up shop in Hoxton High Street. The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies sells everything that any monster needs.

A selection of stories created by the “Junior Ministers”, along with their illustrations, can be read online, including “The Witch That Wanted to Rule the World,” “Buttings’ First Love,” and the intriguingly titled “Sweetie-boy and the Ghost of Michael Jackson.” British writing stars are getting involved, too: Zadie Smith and Roddy Doyle volunteer, and last month, in honor of World Book Day, author and actor Steven Fry even came by to collaborate on a story with students.

Image credit:

Image credit:

Not in London? The Guardian provides a video tour, complete with British schoolkids in awesome uniforms. (No embedding allowed, alas, but click here to view it.)

And if you are lucky enough to live in London, stop by and learn how to volunteer at the Ministry of Stories. While you’re there, could you send me a jar of Olde Fashioned Brain Jam?

Literary Partners