Our Team

Producer

Rebecca Watkins, the visionary founder of The Literature Laboratory, has always been a devoted lover of stories, and the power of the imagination and journalling. With a background in healthcare and business and a heart filled with passion for children’s literature, she set out to create a haven where curiosity and creativity could flourish whilst improving positive wellbeing and resilience in young people. Driven by the belief that every child deserves access to a world of imagination and discovery, Rebecca partners with schools to ensure books are chosen by children for children.  Rebecca believes that Books are medicine and that if we read well, and live well then we can all be well.  Rebecca’s son, Noah is a core part of the business as Chief Creative Officer.  His book reviews and product wall can be seen on our webpage and in our shop in Hay.

Matthew Robert Hughes

Matthew Robert Hughes

Matthew is an artist and visual arts producer whose work is guided by a love of storytelling and the magic and theatre in the everyday.

He uses ceramic sculpture and functional objects to create imagined worlds. Matthew has a short film series currently in production that will look at how non gendered & trans and queer identities can be explored through creating new imagined folk tales drawn from Welsh myth. The films are aimed at teenagers and young adults, and are funded by the Arts Council of Wales.

Matthew founded Legion Projects, an artists-run organisation in 2012, in which he collaborates with artists from across the UK to produce exhibitions, art works, films, publications and events. He has also established with his husband Graham, Chapel on the Green, a creative space for people to stay and relax on holiday or on retreats. The Chapel is also home to a magical garden, which Matthew has created and is an extension of his practice. He is also a huge collector of children’s books and has run children’s departments in world famous book shops.

Suz Crichton-Stewart

Suz Crichton-Stewart

Equine bodyworker, movement specialist and life long student. Books are my long term best friends and portals to the wide variety of subjects which bring me joy. Favourite book topics- herb lore, understanding trauma, parenting with emotional awareness, horse anatomy and regenerative agriculture. Most likely to be found on a horse, on a hill with a plant ID book and a child on a pony.

Emanation Smith

Emanation Smith

I am a creative thinker who also enjoys written word, fine art and textile exploration. I have a background in Complementary Therapies, Adult Education and Home Education.

As a home educator I facilitated the autonomous learning and self-directed education of my daughter for 16 years. My main role was leading by example as a life-long learner, preserving the love of learning, and seeking out the most interesting and enjoyable resources that suited her learning style and pace. She was an early reader, so books, books and more books led her to her natural talents and interests. By practising Conscious Parenting I learned as much from my daughter as I taught her and, again, books helped me along the way.

My love of reference books means that I am one of those people who has not yet read all the books they own, not that it stops me from adding more to the shelves; I like to think that I absorb some of their wonders just by being in their presence.

It is a joy to work in a bookshop focused on the happiness and well-being of children and their parents.

How the Literature Laboratory began

In her journey to foster a love for reading, Rebecca has adopted the motto: “read well, live well, be well.” This guiding principle has shaped The Literature Laboratory into more than just a bookstore; it’s a vibrant community where young minds can grow, explore, and thrive. Rebecca understands the transformative power of reading and its ability to shape the lives of children by nurturing empathy, critical thinking, and a strong sense of self. Through handpicked, diverse, and engaging stories, she aims to instill the values of her motto in every young reader, empowering them to not only read well but also to live life to the fullest and embrace a holistic sense of well-being.

At The Literature Laboratory, we believe that every visit should feel like coming home to a family of fellow book-lovers. So why not drop by our cozy bookshop and meet Rebecca and her dedicated team of literary enthusiasts? They’re always eager to share their love for stories, offer personalized recommendations, and ignite the passion for reading in every child who crosses their path. Come on in, experience the warm and welcoming atmosphere, and be a part of our ever-growing community. Together, let’s celebrate the boundless joy of books and the connections they create, and immerse ourselves in the wonderful world of The Literature Laboratory!

Book-and-Pen

The Literature Laboratory will foster a vibrant community through various activities and initiatives designed to engage, educate, and inspire visitors of all ages:

Unique Curated book selection: The bookshop will offer a diverse range of titles, carefully handpicked to appeal to different interests, cultures, and age groups, ensuring that everyone can find something they love. All books are chosen to improve self awareness, resilience and positive mental attitudes.

Interactive story times: Regularly scheduled story sessions led by Rebecca and her team will entertain and captivate young readers, fostering a love for stories and strengthening their listening and comprehension skills.

Workshops and author events: Hosting workshops on creative writing, illustration, and storytelling, as well as author meet-and-greets, will provide opportunities for children to learn from experts, explore their talents, and connect with the literary world.  Workshops will feature the healing power of journalling for young people as they struggle to make sense of the world around them.

Book clubs and reading challenges: Encouraging children to join age-appropriate book clubs or participate in reading challenges will help them develop friendships, hone their communication skills, and deepen their understanding of the books they read.

Community partnerships: Collaborating with local schools, libraries, arts counciles and non-profit organizations will allow The Literature Laboratory to reach a broader audience and promote a shared passion for reading within the community.

Social media engagement: By maintaining an active online presence, the bookshop will foster connections, share book recommendations, and celebrate the joy of reading with the wider community.

By integrating these elements, The Literature Laboratory will create a warm, inclusive, and stimulating environment where visitors can connect, learn, and grow as they immerse themselves in the magical world of books.

Drop by the shop!

Our shop is just across from the Butter Market in Hay-on-Wye. Come see us and unleash your inner explorer as you navigate through our whimsical world of books, and don't be surprised if you find yourself lost in the pages of a newfound favourite. So, come on in, make some new friends (both on and off the pages), and let the magic of reading fill your heart and mind!  We have toys and outdoor activities for children of all ages to educate, inspire and entertain.

Location

The Literature Laboratory
4 Market Street
Hay-on-Wye
HR3 5AF