I’m really inspired by all the different strands of enquiry I’m working on at the moment, one of which is creating a world of books with the year three class at Dunkirk. We’ve been exploring loads of different ideas around books, book-making, paper, stories and factual books. We’ve looked at lots of different libraries, bookshops, on-line resources and explored what books mean to us.
Recently, by very happy chance, I found a book-crossing book and the children were really interested in the journey this was taking around the world. The website http://www.bookcrossing.com/ has lots more information. I hadn't planned to find it - but maybe it was one of those times when keeping your eyes peeled for interesting things yields a really good story.
We’ve tested out lots of different ways of making our own books and the children have been bursting with ideas, energy, passion for both making and sharing books. They’ve made story books, joke books, quiz books, books about plants, birds, themselves, books with secret compartments, books that lock, books with pull-out posters, books that fold up inside things… They have gone home and made more books and brought these into school – their ideas are infectious.
I made books myself when I was a small child – and I still make books now. I make books a lot with children in different projects and I love their enthusiasm as they create a book of their own and use the space inside to pour out their ideas. Often we make teeny books – there’s something really special about a tiny book filled with precious things, it’s like a jewel. Books are windows into other worlds and they record our thoughts and ideas – they let us share those with others.
Children usually want to read out the books they have made and it’s lovely setting up areas where they can snuggle up and read and read and read… The schools I visited in Scandinavia and the Reggio schools in Italy have lots of gorgeous spaces for reading and I’ve been really inspired by that. There are books in lots of nooks and crannies and spaces where you can really relax to read – mattresses, cushions, sofas and armchairs… I saw beds set up (with lots of pillows) next to bookcases so that children in school could get cosy and lie down to read. Children don’t want to sit up straight all the time and reading – and listening – to books needs lots of opportunities to thrive in unusual places…
I've also noticed how much children write in the books they have made. I rarely would set the writing up as specific task – because I’ve found that when you make your own book, you just want to pour your own words into it; and so the words and pictures come without being forced.