Sometimes, we like working on a longer writing project – to make a child’s story into a homemade book! The method I’m showing you today is one I learned years ago as an elementary student and the typical one we have used for a number of years in our family!
I’m assuming that your child (or pre-teen/teen) has outlined and completed a good story, edited it (e.g. for grammar, word choice, plot smoothness), and marked it (possibly with you) into page divisions. (We do all of those steps in our creative writing notebook or on loose lined paper.) What is left then is just the “publishing” of the story into a book that can go up on your shelf in your living room and read whenever!
Size of Paper
We like to do large books so that there is plenty of room for good pictures plus hand-printed text. That means using paper the size of 11×17″. (This actually is a favourite size to work with in homeschooling because it is also a handy size for small posters (e.g. science, social studies) and some art projects.) I also like to keep on hand, a package of the same size but in construction paper (coloured) for projects like these.
The other supplies we use are fairly common – scissors, ruler, pencil, glue (I like to use wet glue but you could use a glue stick instead), a needle (which has a good-size hole but is NOT a darning needle – you don’t want it too big). You will need some sort of larger-than-11×17″ specialty paper or cloth for the cover. Sometimes we’ve used wallpaper or wrapping paper or pastel packing paper that comes in some parcels of books we’ve received. In the example pictures, we recycled the paper wrapping from some flowers my hubby brought home one evening! 🙂
Then of course, there is the thread. You could use a tough sewing thread but our favourite is to use DENTAL FLOSS – peppermint-flavoured, of course! 😉 (Years ago, I remember a dentist asking if I used dental floss – I replied that I sure did – to make books with!) The waxy stuff is the best to use for book-making because you’re working with paper and don’t want that to rip easily.
One more item which is handy… those are lines which are dark enough to see-through the paper to write on. This is so the child can print straight but not draw all those lines. If you remember the old-fashioned writing paper pads from the 1980’s (before computers were used to write most notes to friends and family), it often came with one sheet of darkly-lined paper to use like this. However, with the size of the page we use, we need to make a page like this. You can simply go over a sheet of lined paper with a marker or you can measure it out. Sometimes the lines on the regular lined paper are too close together for the younger students. On a blog next month (“Links for Printing and Penmanship”), I plan to post up the lined sheets (various sizes available) I made which you can see in the photos below (- the page with the log cabin in the woods). (I’ll try to remember to throw in a link for you here when I post that.)
- Gather the supplies – the paper amount you need is the number of pages in your child’s book divided by 4… plus a couple of additional pages for things like a comments page, an “about the author page” (optional but nice), a “copyright page”, and the inside cover page. Example: If the story needs 24 pages to tell – that is 6 papers + 2-3 more papers = 9 pieces of white paper in total. Each book also needs 1 coloured paper (or white or patterned but it will be glued to the cover). FOLD these together in half. We now sew all those pages together in the centre along the fold.
- Open the pages to the centre fold and mark equal amounts along the fold-line with a dot. You can see the amount we do below (1″ in from the edges and then 2 1/2″ between).
- I (or one of the teens) pre-poke the holes with the needle so that it is easier to sew by the younger children. (It’s like pre-drilling in carpentry.)
- When the dental floss is cut, it is a very long string – it should be several inches longer than the width of the book when doubled.
- We begin sewing through the centre hole and weave it in and out until the book is sewn together, going back out again the centre hold. Anchor it at the beginning and end, as shown in the photos.
Now it’s time to put the story into the book! 🙂
And of course, one of the other fun parts about making a book, is the cover design! It could include cut-out letters, painted pictures, or even felt – use your imagination and remember to keep a margin around the edge of the design.
The photos give the instructions for gluing the cover onto a piece of cardboard which is just slightly bigger than the 11×17″ book that was sewn – perhaps 12×18″. Sometimes we’ve covered corrugated cardboard, sometimes plain cardboard or boxboard. You could recycle a cereal box into this project instead. If you just have 2 pieces of half the size needed, just tape the pieces together, leaving a wee space between them for the spine to fold just with the tape.
Have fun! 🙂