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Making a Lego stop motion video to promote Shelf Help books

Reading Well for Young People, or ‘Shelf Help’, is a national scheme delivered by The Reading Agency which provides a recommended reading list to young people to help them understand and manage their mental health and emotional wellbeing. We stock 35 titles on the recommended reading list, and to promote the scheme our libraries had created some amazing displays and stocked information leaflets.

We wanted to develop a different way to get information about Shelf Help out to young people using social media. From experience we knew that whatever we did needed to be short, fun and engaging. After some serious thought we decided that Lego was the way forward! Lego is easily recognisable and we had both seen some great stop-motion videos using Lego.

Matt Shenton and Sarah Lungley

Matt Shenton and Sarah Lungley

We booked a slot in the maker space at the Business and Innovation Hub at Ipswich library, gathered together some Lego sets, printed off a storyboard sheets and downloaded a superb free Lego Movie Maker app from the Apple app store.

Using the storyboard sheets we sketched a basic set of scenes that would show how a Frodo Lego Minifigure could access the Shelf Help books from his local library. By watching some very useful tutorial videos on Youtube we grasped the basics of stop-motion animation, tipped out the bricks onto the table and got creative.

We constructed our scenes which included a bedroom, kitchen, park and library and started to record our film. It took ages, as each movement of the figures is a single frame in the final film. This is one of the reasons our Frodo uses a skateboard to get around!

Our basic plot is that Frodo has become stressed during his exams and his parents do not know what to do or say to him. Frodo asks his friends if they feel the same way and Brian the ballerina suggests that Shelf Help from the library could be helpful. Frodo goes to the library, talks to an amazing librarian who shows him the range of titles on the Shelf Help booklist. He takes one of the suggested books away to read and it alleviates the stress he was feeling.

Lego figures in a library

Shelf help in the Lego library

Sarah had the brilliant idea of creating a monster to represent Frodo’s stress that grows in size until Frodo reads the book and the monster crumbles away. We decided to use limited text in the video so this was a powerful way to represent Frodo’s emotions.

The finished video was uploaded to YouTube, and shared on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. The feedback was really positive across the library and information community, and was liked and retweeted by the Reading Agency and CILIP CEO Nick Poole.

We have shared our new movie skills with children as young at 7 across the county at ImagiNation sessions, and they have created some fantastic Lego movies themselves. In the autumn we are looking to work with young people aged 13+ to develop their own ideas for promoting Shelf Help to their peers.