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making books at drayton park school

Today was the last of four day-long workshops I did for the TEXT Islington project, getting kids to make books. My big find recently has been those little A5 cardboard placards you get in Deptford pound shops, they're the perfect size for book covers and boy, are they bright! I took three classes at Drayton Park over two days, and here are covers from one of the classes:

The project I set out for the 7-year-olds was to 1) get them to design their own alien or monster character, 2) come up with an 8-page story about the character (complete with title page), 3) design zingy book covers with a blurb on the back, 4) share their books with a classmate and get a positive quotation about the book, 5) Make a book advert poster, using the quotation.
Here's a downloadable pdf that shows how to fold a book out of one piece of paper.

I let them in on a trade secret, that the purpose of a book cover isn't just to let people know what's in their book, but to be IN YO' FACE!!! (Like my attempt at London street talk? You can get away with this when they're 7.) I told them that there are millions of books in the world, and no one will take down your book unless the book's practically jumping off the shelf. When they've taken it down, the point of the blurb is to LURE PEOPLE IN to opening the book. And when someone's opened the book... you have VICTORY.

I liked the very literal approach of this blurb:

Here are a few stories for your reading pleasure. (Can you tell I'm proud of them?)

A big thing was working on their typography, and getting them to spread their writing across the page, instead of bunching teeny-tiny writing up at the top. With a few of them, I actually made them rub it out and try again, larger, and they got some much better results.

I gave them lots of comic-making tips, and one of the things we talked about was bringing in to your story things you see in your local landscape. We discussed the possibilities for this building nearby on the Holloway Road. Besides a rocket launch pad, they suggested it might be headquarters for a criminal mastermind, or perhaps it's a tank full of live sharks.

Because we'd spent all day crafting our own books, I was intrigued to see a proper, old-fashioned bookbinder on the same road as the school. I wonder if they could hook up at all; I looked through the windows and they have great gear.

So... ta dah! THIS is the end of my two-month event season!!! Now I can go back to making books myself. I would say, now I can breath easy, but actually, I have a whole lot of catching up to do.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 26th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
You have taught them well!
Those are beautiful student books! I love the dayglo colors!

Congrads on finishing the event season! Give yourself a day or two to rest. Best of luck with "production season". I have to get to work myself...
Nov. 28th, 2010 10:26 am (UTC)
I love what they are creating. So sweet, resourceful and innocent.
Dec. 6th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks Sarah!
Hi Sarah,

Jupiter Class at Drayton Park are having a look at your website and reading your blog. We were all very excited to see pictures of our work!

Thanks so much for all the fun and help when you visited us.

Jupiter Class xxx
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks Sarah!
Hello, Jupiter Class! It was great getting to meet you all! And it made me super excited when you all said you'd keep making your own books. I know you'll do a great job! x
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
thanks Sarah
Jupiter class
we would just like to say thank you for coming in and helping us make our books and letting us design our own monsters
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Re: thanks Sarah
Hurrah! It was a pleasure! Now I'm designing some new characters, but I'm not allowed to say what they are yet! But they are for the second Princess Spaghetti book, and they're not aliens.
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you for teaching us how to make books.We loved making books with some one how is so expirienst.

from jupiter class
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Re: sarah
You're welcome! It was fun.
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
Hi sarah it is noura and mubarak form jupiter drayton park school we like your website you should come again.
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
I can't believe I'm online at the same time as you all, this is great! :D

Glad to hear you like the website, Noura and Mubarak!
Dec. 6th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
I love making books i will make lots of books. from Manny and Ella

Dec. 6th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
That's great, Manny & Ella! I'd love to see them sometime, good luck making them!
Dec. 7th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
sarha mcintyre
hi pick up plase it is charlotte from drayton park ive been writeing and selling book and thankyou for putting my book up p.s write back
Dec. 7th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Re: sarha mcintyre
Hi, Charlotte! That's great you've been making a book. What's the story about?

That was brilliant the other day when I was online and suddenly your whole class was, too!

Hope all's well, xx
Jan. 16th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
hi it is me yasemin hayta in drayton park primary school puls mecuary class can you put my book up
can you put my book up
Jan. 16th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Re: hi
Hi, Yasemin!

I hope you had fun making books, that was quite a session! I'm sorry I didn't post your book, I just did a selection of some of the books, and I didn't even manage to get photos of everyone's work. If you want to send me a scan of your work, or a copy in the post, I might be able to post something. Or even better, I could post a picture if you've made something new, that would be even more interesting to see!

Let me know! You can e-mail me at sarah at jabberworks.co.uk or send it to:
Sarah McIntyre
The Fleece Station
Old Police Station
114 Amersham Vale
London SE14 6LG

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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