Before moving to Los Angeles, I was a teacher for nine to eleven year old girls at my church congregation in North Carolina. These girls were kind, smart, and super sweet to their teacher — little ol’ me. They were also very funny and regularly cracked me up. Teaching them was a great highlight of my week.
I mentioned that I make books one week in class and the girls wanted to know how I did it — and if I could teach them.
I was a little nervous — I’d never taught bookbinding to anyone before (besides the stuff here on Handmade Library), but I decided to try and prove my assertion that bookmaking is easy enough for anyone to do — including kids.
The girls with their new, handmade notebooks!
We set up a time to meet and make notebooks. With some preparation I walked them through my tutorial on how to sew a simple notebook.
Here are some recommendations I would make for a more kid-friendly version of the tutorial:
Make sure you go through the process ahead of time. This will help you understand the instructions and so you can explain it to your pupils. Keep in mind the age and development level of the child(ren) you’re instructing, and look for ways you can modify the instructions to fit your students’ needs.
Prepare materials ahead of time. Have the covers and pages, thread, etc. all cut to size and ready to go. This will save time and confusion!
You may want to poke the holes in the pages and cover, as well — this was the part that was hardest for the girls to do themselves, and their efforts resulted in a few pricked thumbs! If you are going to have them poke the holes themselves (which I think most kids 9-10 and up could handle with supervision), just make sure to use fewer pages — with less papers to poke through, the task will be easier and safer.
Make sure to tell them to keep a good hold on the pages and pull their strings tight on every stitch to ensure that the notebook pages line up well and aren’t loose.
You can definitely mix up the materials: use regular ol’ computer paper with a yarn needle and yarn. Or even cardboard and ribbon, with a hole puncher to make holes. Get creative!
Overall the project went well — and the girls loved their new mini-journals! We talked about what they could use their notebooks for: planner, diary, sticker book, sketchbook and more. They were so proud to take home a notebook that they had made themselves.
Children love to make books, and there are so great projects that you can make with bookbinding.
They could write down things they love about a family member on each page and give it as a gift. Or you could help them write, illustrate and bind a picture book they wrote themselves. Kids love the idea of having a book they made themselves, and it’s really easy to do!
Another easy & kid-friendly bookmaking technique can be found in my tutorial on No-Sew Accordion books. They are super easy, and you probably even made one of these as a kid.
Have fun ideas for bookmaking projects for kids? Or had success doing a project with your child or students in the past? Tell me about it in the comments!