An Easy, Beautiful Book for Elementary School
By Karen Finneyfrock, WITS Writer-in-Residence
Every year I teach a WITS course in Port Townsend at Blue Heron School and every year, we make books. There’s something about a book, especially a book with a binding that isn’t stapled and a size that isn’t standard that makes an elementary school classroom bubble. Here is a guide to making a sweet, inexpensive book that your students will cherish.
1. Cover: I get a box of white cover stock from a print shop or just buy the number of sheets that I need (use local stores, they are usually less expensive and you support your local economy). I ask the store to cut 2.5” off the bottom. That leaves me with a square piece of cover stock. Then, I score the left hand side of the paper to 1″. This makes for easy opening and reading and provides a perfect spot for binding. Students love decorating the cover. One fun option is to provide packs of origami paper and glue sticks to the students. They will create stunning covers with vibrant colors. A less expensive option is markers and crayons.
2. Paper: I photocopy lines onto blank paper with normal 1” margins on the right and left. Leave 2.5” at the bottom of the page blank, and then chop it off with a paper cutter.
3. Binding: Some folks use a “pencil binding” by inserting a rubber band through each hold and looping it around a pencil. An even less expensive and lovely version of the same idea is bamboo sticks. I buy these bamboo mats from the International District. Each mat comes apart easily and contains 32 pieces. I punch two holes through the entire booklet and then simply thread the bamboo stick through the holes.
4. Cost: To make books for 75 students, I generally pay about $12 for the cover stock, which includes the cost of cutting it. The bamboo pieces are about $4. Sometimes print shops will have paper left over from big jobs that they will sell even cheaper. Popping into your local print shop is a great way to get deals on unique paper. If you add the origami paper to the project, plan for an additional $30. That makes the project total between $16-$46.