Writing a separate guide for children?
Good idea! Children are some of the most important visitors to parish churches - both because they help their parents, friends and siblings to understand the building and because they grow into the adult visitors and researchers of tomorrow.
Having a separate guide for children is a great start but remember that they are often very familiar with using the internet and will be able to look up videos, photos and websites. Dressing up clothes, church building blocks and games or pictures for playing with are good ways to stimulate and engage with children.
For a written guide it is important to think about using great illustrations, cartoons, games, puzzles and i-spies.
Some of the best children's guide writers are children. Sunday schools, children in the congregation and local primary schools are often full of children with great art skills and an interest in churches which they can use to produce brilliant guides.
A local primary school in Norfolk produced the 'Dragon Trail' leaflet, linking four churches with carvings of dragons in them.
Even if children aren't going to be writing the guide its best to start by asking them what they would like to find in a guide and always to finish by asking children what they think of the guide and how it can be improved.
If there are adults who are up to the job of writing a children's guide, they might want to take on characters to help them tell a church's story. At Tidenham, Thomas the church mouse and Bertie the Bat offer very clear explanations with big illustrations for children.
Quirky facts, famous people and fascinating stories are essential to tell the story of a church in an interesting way. It's a good idea to seperate 'information' sections from suggested activities or things to look out for using different colours and boxes - not all readers will want to read every section.
Any sections of text will need to be short with clear language and no complex vocabulary. Try to keep as much information as possible in the form of pictures, cartoons and puzzles, rather than paragraphs of text.
Quizzes and I-spies are a very useful way to encourage children to look closely at the church and figure out its history for themselves. Answers can be written but they can also be drawn or ticked off. Finding a list of similar carvings or images which require a bit of craning to find can be instantly engaging.
Great illustrations are even more important for chilren than they are for adults, photographs are good but hand drawings are best - obviously you'll need someone with a bit of a flair for illustrations!