They’re a lovely reminder of childhood for most of us, but did you know that pop-up books have been an important part of our history for centuries? We’re heading into a library of over 9,000 of them to learn more about the impact these moveable creations have had, and the different forms they can take!

Who better to learn about pop-ups from than someone known as The Popuplady?

“[Paper engineers] are puppet masters, but they hand the strings to the readers. We are the ones who activate everything; who make them come alive.” — Ellen G.K. Rubin, The Popuplady

Pop-ups and movable books are fun, creative, and most of all, engaging. Their unique interactive aspect reaches across different learning styles. And because of this, they’ve been used to explain difficult concepts such as medicine, astronomy, and mathematics throughout history!

We’ll see an interesting example of this later, but first, we’re going to take a small dive into the history and significance of pop up books with the woman known as The Popuplady. Her collection of over 9,000 pop-ups and moveable paper pieces have made her an expert on the topic!

Prepare to want to desperately go hang out with her and flip through one of these wonders after you watch this video brought to us by Atlas Obscura!

To learn more about The Popuplady and pop-ups in general, make sure you check out her website! You can also take a look at this wonderful interview that Toy Tales conducted with her last year about her collection by following this link.

In 2011, The New York Times did a fantastic feature with Ellen G.K. Rubin about Vojtěch Kubašta, one of the most celebrated artists and paper engineers.

It discusses the exhibit she put together on the artist and is a fascinating read! Take a look here.

And if you find yourself with a little extra time and really want to dig into the history of pop-ups, The Popuplady did a lecture for the Smithsonian that covers our fascinating 700 years of paper engineering! This link will bring you to it.

Ellen G.K. Rubin also contributes to the Movable Book Society, whose Facebook you can find here.

And of course, if you’d like to see more great content and travel the world with Atlas Obscura, head over to their website and YouTube channel! You can also stay up to date with their content by following them over on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!

Is there power in collecting?

There’s a point Ellen made at the beginning of the video that I’d like to touch upon.

“I think I wanted to know a body of work, instead of a smattering of this and that. Something that I could sink my teeth into. And wanting to be an expert on something was a goal.” —Ellen G.K. Rubin

In a world so full of different pieces, we need people to find the niche they love and learn all that they can about it. We can’t know everything about all that’s out there, but we can know as much as possible about one subject!

It’s in our collective knowledge that there is power! And each of us is totally capable of becoming an expert, whether that be in pop-up books, sourdough bread, cars, baseball cards, or giraffes. So, what excites you? What knowledge can you share with the world?

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Pop-ups: A Fun Way To Share Important Concepts and Stories!

Paper engineering opens up a new world in books; a tangible experience; a way to show, not explain. And there are a variety of ways to go about creating your own, as this simple tutorial for a homemade children’s book can show you.

But what I’d like to point you to next is a video from one of our favorite channels, TED-Ed. They used a pop-up book to better explain the concept of tectonic plates! They tell us why they made this decision and walk us through how we can make one ourselves. Take a look:

Via: TED-Ed  2

If you’d like to see more great content from TED-Ed, make sure you head over to their channel and browse their entire library!

So, what would you put in your pop up book?

These pieces of art delight and fascinate us at any age. What concepts could you explain with them? What stories would you want to tell? Maybe these books are exactly the engaging way you need to share the fascinating details of whatever you collect!

The possibilities are endless. Stay open to them! (And please email me with pictures of your pop-up books and/or collections!)

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

Do you have a memory with pop-ups? Do you collect something?

Share your stories with us by tagging us in your social media post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram! We’re so excited to hear it! #itsstillanamazingworld

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  1. “The Popuplady.” YouTube, Atlas Obscura, 15 July 2018, Accessed 20 Mar. 2019
  2. “Making a TED-Ed Lesson: Bringing a Pop-up Book to Life.” YouTube, TED-Ed, 10 Sept. 2014, Accessed 21 Mar. 2019.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.