The printing press is a machine that allows for books, magazines, and other text-based items to be produced in large quantities. It changed the world as it allowed for ideas and news to spread rapidly throughout society.

Significance of the Printing Press

The invention of the printing press in the 1490s by Johannes Gutenberg changed the course of human history. Prior to this invention, literary items were not only difficult to produce in mass quantities, but also too expensive for most people. All books and other reading materials had been painstakingly written by hand, but Gutenberg's ground-breaking machine allowed text to be physically “pressed” onto parchment in a cost and time-efficient manner.

The printing press allowed for the quick dissemination of political, social, economic, and religious ideas throughout the world. Mass produced pamphlets allowed people to quickly share their thoughts and ideas about how society should function. Because these pamphlets were relatively inexpensive and brief, cultural and political movements were easily promoted. Without the printing press, cultural movements such as the Enlightenment, Protestant Reformation, and the American Revolution very well would not have been possible.

Beyond these global movements, the printing press resulted in a greatly increased literacy rate throughout the world. Reading was no longer a skill reserved to the financial elite, which allowed poetry, philosophy, current events, and literary works to be accessible to all.

Influential Works Created By a Printing Press

  • Gutenberg's Bible
  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine
  • Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
  • Gray’s Anatomy
  • Candide by Voltaire
  • Encyclopédie by Denis Diderot

How Do I Use This?

The picture encyclopedia storyboards have easily digestible information with a visual to stimulate understanding and retention. Storyboard That is passionate about student agency, and we want everyone to be storytellers. Storyboards provide an excellent medium to showcase what students have learned, and to teach to others.

Student Presenting a Storyboard

Use these encyclopedias as a springboard for individual and class-wide projects!

  • Assign a term/person/event to each student to complete their own storyboard
  • Create your own picture encyclopedia of a topic you are studying
  • Create a picture encyclopedia to the people in your class or school
  • Post storyboards to class and school social media channels
  • Copy and edit these storyboards and use as references or visuals
Learn more about inventions and discoveries that have changed the world in our Picture Encyclopedia of Innovations!
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