Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bookmaking; The final results

Without further ado, here are the completed books our children published during their recent “Monday Morning Learning Sessions”. They are so proud of their accomplishments and have these keepsakes ready at their fingertips for reading repeatedly, or for sharing with others.

Ready to be added into the family
library and our own;

"Bookmaking Hall of Fame"

Personally I found being an assistant in the class was a whirlwind experience, and I’ve come to the realization that eight one-hour weekly sessions were not long enough to get all the books completed with each having a pristine finish. It was a definite rush. In the future, we will know to take more time for this project in a group setting.

Some of the children from the younger
class display their books for all to see.

It's a wrap!

In years past, I have either taught bookmaking classes myself, or been an assistant during classes in session with large groups of children. It was interesting for me to note many significant differences in this recent bookmaking endeavor compared to all the variations I have taught or seen before, so unique in its production from start to finish. I loved it! The bookmaking format came from the compiled experience from one of the mothers, her unique style had evolved over the years from making books with her own children at home. Her oldest daughter taught the class, two mothers assisted. I was one of them.

Before this eight-week learning session even began, the children were given an assignment two weeks prior, the task of writing an entire story, or typing up a reference book of choice, not only preparing it, but having a draft copy printed and ready to bring to the first class. The mandate called for specific sized formats for each group of children, the younger group’s books would be 8 ½ x 11, and the older would use legal paper folded in half lengthwise to produce a smaller sized book.

The book format copied from the original mock-up

During the first session, they were orientated with the grand plan of taking their drafts to a final book publishing, also spending time intentionally to whet the their appetites, engulf them into the agenda ahead, by using a show and tell method of already completed books from the collection of the teacher’s family. A large wicker basket filled with books was the mainstay of the session to get the children excited with presented possibilities and ideas for their own bookmaking ahead of them. All were thrilled to see how their books would eventually come to fruition. Our first session also entailed much editing and the creation of a book mock-up format. From there, the children worked hard, reformatting their stories on their home computers to mimic their own unique mock-ups designed that day, and had them ready to go for the next session.

Placing the pages into the book covers

Holding the pages up while the
glue sets in the center of the book

(note; The blue contact will be covered and not show when complete)

Along the way, each child continued to complete the illustrations in class, and all of the pages required plenty of glue stick action, sewing, and assorted math skills for cutting the contact paper book covers, trimming as necessary. Systematically they worked hard and leaped into the wonderful world of bookmaking, becoming "published authors" by the end of the session. On the last day, they were all tickled with their final copies in hand, sharing amongst one another. They also presented a show and tell to the entire group at the end of the morning in front of everyone gathered in the gym, for all to see.

Lots of sewing to get the center secure

The most intricate part of the entire bookmaking was when it became time to use a sharp paper-piercing device to punch through all the pages, measuring and poking all the stitching holes down the center of all the page thicknesses. Whew, that was hard work, many muscles required and patience to get the holes in a straight line! With a spool of quilting thread and a strong needle the children were guided with specific instructions through their sewing assignments, that of securing all of the pages together, stitching their way up and down the center spine of their book pages and knotting the threads when done. Since the books for the older class of children were smaller, and due to the fact they inevitably wrote longer stories resulting in more pages overall, their pages split up into two sections. Then they were placed side-by-side together, and adhered to the center spine of the covers, during the final construction of the book’s completion phase.

The final detail; placing the clear
contact covering over all covers

Each book's cover was protected with a colorful or patterned contact paper. On the inside of the book covers, a colored page covered this area and a photo of the “author” and his/her biography graced the inside back cover over top of it. On the outside of the book covers, a title with photo or picture graced the front cover, and, the teacher of the class wrote a wee blurb about each book and author which was adhered and protected for all to read.

Admiring one another's books

The final stage of assembly was sizing a piece of clear contact paper to the exact measurements of each book, and carefully installing it over the entire book’s outer covers, and wrapping over into the insides of each cover directly over to the center spines. The supplies were many and the fast paced production ended up being something else.

The only thing I would change in supplies for any future bookmaking would be a different adhesive. Apparently the preferred choice is a spray adhesive, which wasn't allowed in our location, so the children substituted glue sticks for their work. We noticed most of the pages bubbled up a bit once dried from the type of glossy long sheets of watercolor paper pages used for sandwiching in between each of the pages to make them thicker. The overall effect would be much more presentable with a better adhesive.

Yes, truth be known, I would do it over again with a big group of children, and I hope to at the very least with my own children in the future.