The Bookmaking Experience: An Educator’s Guide to Student Made Books

ISBN: 978-1-885473-44-8
SIZE: 8.5 x 11
PRICE $27.95

Making simple books provides a powerful tool for incorporating the best ideas and practices in human development and effective education. Inclusive and collaborative in nature, weaving subject matter content and academic skills with engaging activities that provide reflective opportunities, the simple act of making and using one’s own book builds bridges across the learning environment. Students are motivated to collaborate and empowered to take risks as they assume greater responsibility for their own learning and goals. A natural cross-curricular activity, honoring the multidimensional nature of learning and human development, bookmaking is fun, challenging, creative, and practical.


“I believe that The Bookmaking Experience is exactly what teachers have been searching for. It provides clear instructions for low cost and creative student made books that can be used across many disciplines. When I saw that the title of chapter one was No Time, No Money, No Space, No Scrap, No Tears, I thought ‘These authors really know what teachers are looking for.’ The examples of student made books can be used immediately in the classroom and the text gives a solid background about the benefits of using student-made books to further educational goals. I would love to have this book to use in my Nature Journaling Professional development.”
Betsy Bennett Stacey, Instructor for The Nature Museum’s Educator Institutes “Nature Journaling Across the Curriculum” and “Nature Writing for the Classroom,” and Program Director of Middle School After School, Brattleboro, VT

“The Bookmaking Experience is a guide book that provides teachers (as well as substitutes) with a wealth of possibilities to enhance learning and to integrate with their current curriculum. These talented educators have suggested materials that are inexpensive and readily available along with a quick process for enhancing retention and extending understanding. These student made books can provide a different avenue for assessment in the classroom. As educators, it is important to encourage each learner’s creative development as an element of our instruction. The Bookmaking Experience is a perfect balance of all of these instructional elements.”
Janice Hyde Eckola, Ed.D., Director of Instruction

“This book is an excellent resource and guide for educators of any subject and level who are interested in bookmaking. For those readers on a budget or just environmentally conscious, this book even designates how to cut materials when preparing supplies by using everything so there’s no waste. This book is a must have for any educator who wants to put more creativity into learning and reflection through bookmaking.”
Gretchen Berns, Ph.D., Book Artist and Bookmaking Educator, Assistant Professor, Internship Coordinator, University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse

“I read The Bookmaking Experience twice and found it to be a very interesting book! I would purchase such a book largely because I love making books in the classroom, but this book is different than other bookmaking guides because of the obvious connection to educators. Most other books about making books are for the artist and not the educator. I really like the list of all the suggestions as to how to use the books in specific curricular areas. This would help a teacher envision possibilities of making books in the classroom, especially if they have never used books as a structure for assignments. Overall, this book is very thorough in all aspects to making a book in the classroom. “This book contains so many different possibilities for creative bookmaking for students! It’s a must have book about student made books. Only one question: Which book do you make first?”
Heidi Pauer, 2003 New Hampshire English Teacher of the Year

“This book is exceedingly helpful in guiding teachers in the creation of ongoing projects that will make student responses to content knowledge a much more engaging and creative process.”
Steve Piscitello, M.ED., Middle School Teacher

“This is a great resource for any teacher. I found The Bookmaking Experience offered practical ideas to keep learning active, meaningful and owned by the students. As we strive to reach the whole child while simultaneously meeting standards and achieving test scores, this book reminds teachers that they can accomplish those goals! Learning can still be fun. The book creations allow a magical unfolding of student imagination, an investment of self, and development of personal skill. Teachers at any grade level can utilize these strategies in order to have the human being present in the creation of understanding.”
Rhonda M. Rabbitt, Assistant Dean, Director of Graduate Programs in Education, Viterbo University

Excerpt from the Book

No time can be spent on frivolity in today’s classroom, yet the fostering of creativity is a central outcome in any educational setting. Fortunately, the creation of small books is a quick, valuable process for enhancing retention, fostering extended understanding, and developing creative outlets while providing a new avenue for assessing student growth.

No money is available, and fortunately, none is required. The materials used to create books are readily available, often as industrial scrap ends of paper or cardboard, pieces of yarn, or that basic 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper that would otherwise be used as a worksheet.

No space larger than a box is necessary to establish a bookmaking center in a classroom or library. Indeed, materials can be sorted into bags and stored, ready to easily distribute and collect for future use. Finished books can be displayed on shelves, bulletin boards, libraries, and even in local businesses. Books used for academic study can be neatly stored in a decorated box that once held cereal, and now holds a small library of student books, ready to distribute and use on a moment’s notice.

No scrap is a central aspect of our approach to bookmaking. The recommended materials and supplies are readily available, and the books are designed to eliminate scrap. Extra pieces from one project can be used as pages or closures in another. Soon the creativity of the participants will kick in and even more uses for small pieces and potential discards will emerge from the group.

No tears is very important. Making books should be fun. When a participant makes a book that is different from our demonstration, we congratulate him/her on making a new design and ask if he/she would like to share it with others. In addition to encouraging creativity, risk-taking and engagement in the process, great new designs emerge. In fact, several of our designs were “goofs” of our own, and we liked the result. We also provide strategies for setting up a bookmaking center to facilitate the process in a healthy, happy, effective manner.

Most ages can participate in bookmaking, from three-year-olds to elders in a senior care facility. Individuals with a wide range of abilities and challenges can, with appropriate adaptations, succeed in making these small books. Of course, there are techniques that work better with one group than another, and we share our experiences and those of others who have successfully worked with the diverse ages, skills, and challenges.

Bookmaking is inherently collaborative in nature. One of our constant themes is “help your neighbor.” Designing and creating a blank book is one part of collaboration. Designing the content, determining the message, communicating the information, and relating the individual and/or group experience is another level of collaboration. Bookmaking is an excellent activity to facilitate identifying the boundaries between the personal experience and the group experience, and building a bridge between them.

At times subject matter and specific academic skills determine the selected book format. At other times the decision is based on available materials or specific purpose. Throughout all formats, of course, the process engages participants in the activities and provides for reflective learning. Several formats are naturals for debriefing an experience, others for showing sequencing, and yet others for exploring characters or events or experimental results. Sometimes the process of creating the book challenges math and critical thinking skills.

Making books can be an intentional assessment tool. If the project is to explain the three branches of government, and the student designs a book that has three parts, each correctly identifying and describing one of the branches of government, the instructor can readily agree that the student understands the intended concept. Rather than taking time for a pop quiz, the instructor can move forward with greater depth on that subject or with the next part of the curriculum.

Hands on activities enhance the learning environment, motivate students to collaborate, and empower them to take risks. That process leads to students assuming greater responsibility for their own learning environment as they share ideas, observe classmates, and naturally identify other areas to explore and ideas to pursue. That leads to a natural bridging of curricular areas, which further challenges the learner.

Human development as embodied in learning is complex, multidimensional, and challenging. Everyone can be involved. Making books provides a fun, challenging, creative, and practical tool to guide that journey. As an alternative to pen or pencil activities, the process enhances enjoyment and allows students to review collaboratively while discovering new insights in a fun and unique way.

Our contribution is this guidebook designed to assist educators and therapists in their very important work. Our focus was to explain these bookmaking projects so clearly that a substitute teacher with no prep time could successfully implement them with a group of students. We sought to provide options that experienced, sophisticated educators and therapists could use to further engage students and clients, providing outlets for creativity and intellectual exploration while modeling excellent group interaction. And we remain conscious of the limitations of time, money, and space while seeking to minimize frustration and waste of materials, creating scrap.

While the book design pages can stand alone, we encourage you to read the background pages for additional insight into making and using the books. Chapter one outlines our philosophy that student made books are wonderful, readily accessible resources. Please check chapter two to identify readily available tools and supplies. Chapter three explores advantages of organizing a bookmaking center and techniques for distributing materials efficiently and storing finished books. Chapter four is a gold mine of techniques and materials for enhancing books with embellishments, for using scrap as decoration, for creating book covers, and for recycling materials into books. Chapter five addresses concerns about meeting the needs of all students and clients, and contains applications from experienced classroom teachers and therapists. Chapter six provides in-depth applications of bookmaking across the curriculum, including an extensive list matching library books to student handmade books, a sample rubric, and a sample lesson plan grid. In chapter seven we explore the ties between schools and their communities, a mutually beneficial awareness and collaboration.

Table of Contents

SECTION ONE: Using the Books
Chapter 1: No Time, No Money, No Space, No Scrap, No Tears
Chapter 2: Supplies at Your Fingertips
Basic Tool Set
Consumables and Recyclables
Chapter 3: Optimizing Time and Space
Basic Organization
Advanced Preparation as Classroom Management
Cutting Guidelines
Chapter 4: Embellishments, Covers, Closures, Recyclables
Chapter 5: Special Needs and Therapeutic Applications
Guidelines for Open Ended Art/Judy Haselhoef
Therapeutic Applications for Bookmaking/Janet Lew Carr
Chapter 6: Enhancing and Integrating Curriculum and Assessment Tools
Six Core Benefits
Suggested Curriculum Enhancements
Bookmaking Activities for First Grade/Kathy Field
Bookmaking Evaluation for Teacher Use/Vicki Pagnucci
Children’s Books/Kim Dahl
Chapter 7: Beyond the Wall: Community Outreach
Students Into the Community
Community Into the Schools

SECTION TWO: Individual Books
Accordion Fold Books
Pocket Books
Folded Books
Dimensional Books
Large Rocket, Missile, Small Rocket, Teddy Bear, & Apple Books
Constructed Books
Shape Books
Crossover Books
Stitched Books
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