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I’ve made little tiny books since I was a very small child; I used to squirrel away teeny tiny pieces of paper and card that were destined for the bin and turn them into a series of books that
were usually about 1.5cm square at most. I would fill those books with tiny words, stories, quizzes, pictures and sometimes library cards! (The notion of a library “pocket” card fixed inside the cover of a book is something children today don’t experience but are really interested in – things hidden in pockets and envelopes are intriguing…).
I frequently make books now, usually still small. I often make them as part of projects with groups, frequently combined with a series of other things. One of the recent projects at Dunkirk Primary was for the year 3 class to become “secret library makers”. The children threw themselves into this project with such energy and their ideas were incredibly inspiring. They made books galore and many went home and made a million more books. They made model libraries
out of a vast pile of cardboard boxes, they designed and created what they would like in their own library.
Their creations were gorgeous – we had libraries where you had to walk past in a certain “I’m hoping for a book” way and the library would shoot a book out at you through a special contraption, but only if you were walking in exactly the right way. We had
libraries with secret compartments and passwords and things hidden inside things. We had libraries where you could lay down to read, libraries with slides and magic staircases and so much
more… And they were all filled with books the children had made.
I spend hours making tiny books out of a host of odds and ends – bits of card, brown paper, tiny scraps of coloured papers, ends of ribbons etc. I made a set of books out of old books which form part of the installation in the Children’s Book Room at Scarthin books.
Re-using old text is wonderful, you get little snippets of words showing through that suggest poems and stories you wouldn’t otherwise think of.
There’s something really important about personalising books and making them your own – it’s part of creating a sense of self and marking your territory maybe. I remember the lengths we would all go to at school to decorate our school books and write our names in fancy text with added images.
And a blank book is filled with the promise of things yet to come…
Is it a diary of a new adventure, a new story, a set of notes, a means to chart the creation of something new, a place to be filled with lists, a scrapbook for found things… What will you fill it with…