Pop-up books are synonymous with early childhood, giving young minds a chance to explore a story through moving parts and artful paper construction. But the history of the pop-up book begins with philosophy and spirituality. The first known examples of the books date back to the 14th century, when a Franciscan priest and poet from Majorca, Ramon Llull, employed revolving discs on paper to teach principles of thought. Over the centuries, “lift-the-flap” books followed and were used for education (particularly to help medical students learn anatomy) and for children’s stories. Artists and paper engineers such as Germany’s Lothar Meggendorfer helped develop new methods for interlocking movable parts and came up with new designs to entertain both children and adults.
What we would consider the first modern pop-up book appeared in 1929 with the publication in England of the Daily Express Children’s Annual No. 1 by Louis Giraud and Theodore Brown. Since then, innovative paper engineering has resulted in ever more elaborate constructions and taken the form to new heights—literally. In 2010, Pearle Opticiens in Belgium created the world’s largest pop-up book, spanning roughly 20 feet by 13 feet and featuring pop-ups over 7 feet high.