Last month my husband and I took our two boys, ages 5 and 3, to a Star Wars Reads Day event at a local library. We made origami Yodas, we cut out bookmarks, we read more Star Wars books than I ever knew existed, and the boys even got to take a book home for free. On the way to our next stop, we got stuck in horrible traffic, so I started flipping through one of the books, LEGO Star Wars: A New Hope. It’s one of those DK Readers books that come in levels from 1 to 4. This title is a level 1. It’s 32 pages long, the font sizes are large (sizes 36, 28 and 20 for the nerds who like this kind of detail), and there are many colorful illustrations. I was really impressed with how the authors were able to tell the entire story of the first Star Wars movie so simply in this little book, and I’m not the only one. A reviewer on Amazon said “I’m actually surprised they managed to capture the essence of the story in so few words and images.”
We’re in the midst of creating a new self-guided exhibit in one of the historic houses at the Homestead Museum and we’ve been bogged down in details. What is important? What will resonate with, or inspire visitors? How can we explain things more simply? Tightening and focusing our narrative has been very challenging, and here, right in front of me was a great example of how it could be done. So what did I do? I brought the book to work and shared it with my project team. I admit, not everyone was as inspired as I was, but the idea resonated with the team. If the entire story of Star Wars could be condensed into a 32-page book for beginning readers, surely we could find a compelling way to present 30 years of California history in three rooms of a historic house, right? In the midst of a challenging project, it was great to come across an example of what we’ve been trying to do: tell an engaging story, be concise, and find great illustrations/objects/quotes to enhance the offering.
Maybe some of you have come across something special that inspired you in the midst of a challenging project. We’d love to hear about them.