Movable books are an innovative area of children’s publishing. Commonly equated with spectacular pop-ups, movable books have a little-known history as interactive, narrative media. Since they are hybrid artifacts consisting of words, images and movable components, they cross the borders between story, toy, and game. Interactive Books is a historical and comparative study of early movable books in relation to the children who engage with them.

Jacqueline Reid-Walsh focuses on the period movable books became connected with children from the mid-17th to the early-19th centuries. In particular, she examines turn-up books, paper doll books, and related hybrid experiments like toy theaters and paignion (or domestic play set) produced between 1650 and 1830. Despite being popular in their own time, these artifacts are little known today. This study draws attention to a gap in our knowledge of children’s print culture by showing how these artifacts are important in their own right.

Reid-Walsh combines archival research with children’s literature studies, book history, and juvenilia studies. By examining commercially produced and homemade examples, she explores the interrelations among children, interactive media, and historical participatory culture. By drawing on both Enlightenment thinkers and contemporary digital media theorists Interactive Books enables us to think critically about children’s media texts paper and digital, past and present.

part I|58 pages

Historical and Cultural Contexts and Theoretical Issues

chapter 1|28 pages

Texts and Contexts for Movable Books

chapter 2|32 pages

17th- to 19th-Century Children’s Domestic Practices

“Activities” and “Rational Recreations” as Historical “DIY Culture”

part II|69 pages

17th- to 19th-Century “Turn-Up” Books

chapter 5|23 pages

Child-Made Religious “Turn-Up” Books

Child Interactors as DIY Producers

part III|30 pages

Enacting Domesticated and Fantastical Adventures

chapter 6|27 pages

Fuller “Paper-Doll” Books

Playing Across Gender and Genre

chapter 7|25 pages

English Toy Theaters

Staging Miniature Melodramatic Spectacles

chapter 8|26 pages

Elaborate Movable Books in Two and Three Dimensions

Activity and Agency Enhanced and Restricted

chapter 9|19 pages

Conclusion—Contemporary “Pop-Up” Books

Activity and Agency Reformulated