Bringing books to life for early years families

ExploraTale’ 2015/16 – Bringing books to life for early years families in Devon The Carousel Project in partnership with Libraries Unlimited. ExploraTale has been a unique and successful project delivered in partnership with three diverse Devon libraries at Exeter, Tiverton and Honiton, as well as smaller Exeter libraries; St Thomas, Pinhoe and Topsham.

ExploraTale – an innovative partnership

Funded by the Arts Council Grants for the Arts, ExploraTale was an innovative partnership that achieved more together, through promoting the library as well as nurturing creativity and early years development in an audience of more than 270 families with children aged 5 and under.

We continue to enable young children and their families to enter into the world of the story in an imaginative and creative way.

girl in pink

Weekly drop-in sessions

Over the course of a year, artists led free weekly drop-in sessions based around children’s literature, combining visual arts and movement to bring books to life for families with young children.

By using everyday materials the library space was transformed each week into the scenes inspired by the journeys and characters in popular children’s books, old and new.


This short film illustrates some of the sessions run by The Carousel Project as part of Exetreme Imagination.

Carousel’s ‘ExploraTale’ sessions will transform your experience of the library by taking you on an imaginative journey through books, offering early years children and their families a sensory experience exploring colour, movement, texture and sound.

Partnering with libraries across Devon

By partnering with libraries across Devon, families benefitted from accessing high quality arts provision in accessible public spaces. By offering participants free access to the Arts, the three libraries became a trusted inspiring space that not only helped to bring ideas, imagination and a love of books, but supported children’s development and intergenerational learning.  See case study on the ACE website

The evidence gathered throughout the project evaluation demonstrates that ExploraTale had a positive and lasting impact on many of its audience and achieved the targets it set out to accomplish. ExploraTale’s innovative and animated use of the library space has enabled young participants to view the library as an exciting place of discovery and enabled adults to feel more positive about the library as a welcoming place.  ExploraTale provided a vehicle for the cultural shift within the library community, helping it adapt to its new role as a dynamic community space.

The year-long nature of ExploraTale has meant the project could build on nurturing creativity and enjoyment in participants. The relationships that grew over the year underpinned many of the project’s rich learning and social outcomes for children and parents, such as increased confidence or improving how parents engage their children in stories at home.  This evaluation reports on some of the social and learning outcomes experiences by both child and adult


“The work with the Carousel Project at three of our libraries in Devon was of extremely high quality and put the child and their carer at the centre of the experience.  It was thoughtful, engaging and delighted children, carers and library staff alike.

We would love to work with the Carousel Project again to enable more families and library staff to have the change to engage with the work of the Carousel Project”.

Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive, Libraries Unlimited, Nov 2016