Oh, how we embraced publishing students’ work in the early years of writer’s workshop! Many schools had a “publishing center” where parent volunteers came to type and bind student work. Covers were cardboard, decorated with wallpaper samples, held together with duct tape. Although the school where I taught did not have its own center, I painstakingly bound my students’ books with dental floss so they’d last forever.
Dental floss eventually gave way to spiral binding machines, and all too many of these moved to the back of closets with the onset of NCLB.
And now, in 2010, I experience a mixture of both nostalgia and glee when these wallpaper books are recalled in blogs and interviews. Who is mentioning them? Published authors! Here are a few I’ve come across recently:
, author of adult and young adult novels, writes that she “knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self ‘publishing’ her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples and electrical tape.”
editor-in-chief, CEO and founder of The Writer’s Life Ezine and The Writer’s Life Publications reports that she “began her writing career in the second grade when she made her first handmade book for a class project. From there, her passion for writing blossomed into a full-time career.”
And Chris DeBrie
, author of Shakespeare Ashes
, writes: “And it all started with my illustrated book from the second grade, with wallpaper for a book cover and a crayon drawing pasted on front. The title was, “Forkhead”, about a boy with fork-shaped ridges in his head. Forkhead and his best friend play some pranks around school. They trade some schoolyard snaps. Then they somehow become astronauts and camp on the moon in sleeping bags, with no space suits. I remember they stayed on the moon for 999 days, and the story ended there, so my guess is, they must have gone insane…
I hope these authors’ second grade teachers realize the influence they’ve had.