Pop-up books by their very nature are intended to surprise and delight. They bring elements of animation and visual depth to what is normally a two-dimensional page, so that as readers our assumption of a flat, static expanse is completely disrupted by the added stimuli of motion, shadow, and form—the eye is forced to reconsider its linear approach to reading, and the mind must quickly adapt to unexpectedly complex visual cues.
Because children’s responses are inherently immediate and uninhibited, and because looking at pictures offers them a means of “reading” at a time when reading skills exceed their grasp, pop-up features are particularly suited for children’s books. This is where they first appeared and where they continue to thrive in contemporary book publishing.
But increasingly complex paper engineering and technological advances in book production have broadened the application of pop-ups far beyond illustrating fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Pop-up books for adults appear in a wide range of works—literature, erotica, political commentary, books about art and architecture, advertising—and pop-up features are also found in artists’ books, where the book form and the process of reading are appropriated for artistic expression.
Pop-ups aren’t JUST for kids anymore.