A lesson in flannelgraph

Yesterday in church somebody kindly approached me with a carrier bag of books they had salvaged from their mother’s house before she moves. There were one or two amongst them which will be useful – not least a dictionary of etymology. However, it is probably the gem below which caught my eye the most. Published in 1959, it presents outlines for 12 flannelgraph talks on everything from strong drink to Christmas celebration. Forget your powerpoint, delete your prezi – its all in here! Not only that, but each talk uses only three shape – a cross, a circle, and a heart, so no complex cutting out of letters is required.

You might have thought that the medium was the most old-fashioned thing here. However, you would be wrong, as this snippet from the ‘script’ on temperance might suggest:

Not quite sure where to start with my discomfort on that! Suffice it to say that the message would be unpalatable even delivered in the most modern medium.

I was just flicking through the pages of this 1950’s gem when news popped through about the astonishing success of the YouVersion Bible App. If you click on the link, you will see it has now been installed over 30 million times worldwide. The message is twenty-one centuries old and more – but people are still clammering for it delivered in the most accessible way. A good message can be obscured by a poor medium, but a poor message will seem unattractive no matter how it is presented.


Not sure I will be using my flannelgraph book on a regular basis. That said, if anyone wants to invent a flannelgraph/ fuzzy felt app…I’ll join the queue!

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