The British Library has issued a challenge to young people to make a tiny book to read to their toys; their instructions are here.
I’ve often made tiny books, sometimes in a workshop after young people have written their own poems, and they are great fun to make!
Here is an easy way to make your own book – all you need is a piece of A4 paper, some scissors or a craft knife, and someone old enough to use the craft knife! If you wish to make a harder cover, you will also need some card, and elastic bands or a stapler.
Start off with your piece of A4 paper – I suggest making two of these folding books, I’ll explain why later!
Fold the paper in half along the long side; every one of these folds you make must be accurate – make sure the corners meet the corners exactly, and press the crease with your thumb to make sure it is nice and crisp:
Then open the paper up and fold it the other way:
Unfold the paper again and fold both short sides in to meet the middle crease:
When you open up the paper after it should look like this:
Each little square is a page of your book. (YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WRITE IN YOUR BOOK NOW, but if you want to do it at this stage, and you are not making a card cover for your book, this next image shows which direction each page will face. The numbers show where the page each square will be in the finished book. So the square at the top left will end up on the outside at the front and will be the cover. The next square though will end up as the back!)
Next comes the cutting bit!
Next stand your paper up like this:
And open up the slit and press the sides into a book shape:
This is your little book. If you are not making a cover, now you can start writing in your poem or story book.
Write the poem/poems first! Remember, whatever you write cannot be very long. You might want to write a line or two on every page. Each two pages when opened up is called a ‘spread’. You could write a poem on one half and illustrate it on the other half.
When you have written your book, you can design your front cover, and write a ‘blurb’ for it on the back. The ‘blurb’ is what publishers call the description of what is inside the book. Make it sound as exciting as you can!
Can you remember I suggested making two little paper books? That is because you can plan on one book, and do a neat copy when you have got it right!
If you are making a book with a cover, this is the plan for the inside of the book:
As you can see, you can write on every page, and you have two more pages.
Now you must make your cover. The cover will need to be made of card, and must be a little bigger all round than your book.
Cut it out and fold it in half:
Don’t put the cover on until you have written in your book. And also when you have decorated or drawn your cover and ‘blurb’ on the back! If you make a mistake you don’t want to have to take it apart.
When your book is finished, lie your book on the opened cover, with the book opened to the middle – you can fix it together using a rubber band if the card is very strong, or staples along the crease if not – staple it from the outside in:
You have written your first book! Congratulations!
Here is my little book of poems that I made yesterday – I have used some wonderful illustrations drawn by the great illustrator Gordy Wright to go with my poems – maybe you know someone who can draw really well who might like to decorate your book, if you don’t want to?
As you can see, I didn’t get the circle of printing quite right when I did the inside line of the poem.
Pygmy shrew and ladybird!
Pufferfish and fairy fly:
Leveret and hedgehog:
And last poem, narwhal.
Here is my blurb!
Hope you like it! Do send your book to the British Library, they want to see them!
Here is my book when it was just one piece of paper – I printed it out on a printer which was a bit fiddly – you could also draw your book on your computer, print it and cut the drawings out to stick them in your book, if that is easier!
6 thoughts on “Making a Tiny Poetry Book”
I am going to do one tomorrow and share these directions with some family members.
That’s great, Liz. Ladybird books were made in a similar way. It’s brilliant making a poem or story but making the book too
It was fun! 🙂
More excellent advice. I made these with schoolchildren when working for Creative Partnerships and they were a great success.