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The Art of Bookmaking

 

Books are a great friend for children

Books are a great friend for children

 

 

There is something so special about holding a book in one’s hand. It can’t be replicated by holding onto an e-book. There’s a heft and weight to a book, there is the sound of the turning of the pages, and the feeling you get when you can close the book when it’s all done. I worry that this next generation won’t fully realize the value of a real book. But I’m hoping that children will understand and appreciate the wonder of books more if they have a chance to make their own. This project can be easy (or more elaborate if you and your child are interested) and a fun, enriching literary experience.

 

I started making books with my children when they were quite young, even before they themselves were writing. With younger children, I recommend getting some blank pieces of paper and crayons. Fold the paper in half horizontally. Encourage your child to tell you a story. You can write the story down for her, and she can be the illustrator. With children under 5, I’d recommend starting with a book that is only 5-6 pages long so as not to fatigue them. As they start to begin writing, invite them to write some of the words on each page as well as the title and author name. It’s a great time to talk to them about the importance of neat handwriting so that everyone can read what’s been written. When all done, staple the book so as to ensure the pages won’t fall out. Allow time for a fun cover.
As your children grow in age, they can take on more and more of the bookmaking responsibilities. They may still need your help to structure the story as well as to help with spelling and grammar. But by now they should be able to do most if not all of the writing themselves, as well as the illustrations. One thing that makes these books so enjoyable for the children is that they are allowed to write about whatever they want, as opposed to the specific writing assignments usually given to them in school. If your son is particularly interested in soccer, he could write a story about a soccer player or even an instructional book about particular soccer skills. Perhaps your daughter is very interested in space. Writing an adventure story about space will be a wonderful way for her to practice her creative writing while also applying all the information she’s learned about the subject.
Feel free to get creative with these projects. Spend some time looking at books with your children to get ideas for the different components involved. Children often love to write dedication pages as well as “About the Author” pages at the end of the book. One of my children included a map and glossary with his fantasy story. Also, there are lots of interesting ways to move beyond the basic folding in half paper format. I’ve had my children create accordion books, scrolls, and many other formats. Here’s a great website that showcases a variety of bookmaking styles: http://www.makingbooks.com/freeprojects.shtml
No matter the type of book your child creates, make a big deal about the finished product. Have your child show it to family members and friends. Perhaps display the book in a prominent position on the child’s bookshelf or home library. Children may even be interested in bringing finished books into school to show teachers and friends. One of my granddaughters recently brought three of her finished books into her preschool classroom. The teacher read the stories at circle time that day and fellow

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