Breathing New Life Into Battered Books

I’ve written in the past in praise of the battered book and stand by my belief that kids’ books should not be ornamental, they should be woven into the fabric of their play time in as many ways as possible.  I’m not encouraging the wanton destruction of books by little ones, but am very aware that insisting on excessive care and attention is a sure fire way to suck the fun out of anything.  With this in mind, we’ve built houses and towers, created paths and patterns and had a whole host of fun with books that had nothing to do with reading.  It’s all part of creating positive associations with books and has helped to shape a once somewhat reluctant reader into a keen story time participant.

The covers look OK, but hide a multitude of sins. These were heading for the bin.

Inevitably, taking this approach means that there are going to be casualties along the way.  Much as I hate to throw a book away, they do sometimes hit the recycling bin when they’re exhausted enough to be of no use to anyone.  I’m not talking about books that are simply tired and well worn. I’m talking about books that are missing pages, have extra illustrations courtesy of a pen left within reach and would be deemed more of an insult than a gift if they were to be passed on.  I’ve had to throw a fair number of books in this condition over the years, and it pains me every time, so today I decided to take a different approach and use them creatively.

Just some of the salvaged illustrations.

What did we do?

Rather than bin two long-serving Peppa Pig books, both missing a considerable number of pages, I took a pair of scissors to them instead and cut out lots of little pictures.  I then sat with my four year old, a stick of glue, pens and card and we turned these pictures into our very own ‘book’.

A’s text says: Daddy Pig says, ‘Oh no!’

As A is still very young, rather than our ‘book’ having a cohesive narrative, she just produced a few pages based around Peppa and her family being at a funfair, sticking down illustrations, embellishing with her pens and even adding her own words.  My only input was to help with spelling.  Everything else was her.  She drew very heavily on the stories she was familiar with to make her own pages, but she is only four.  She absolutely loved the activity, animatedly narrating the stories as she was putting her pages together and proudly talking me through them when she was done.

A’s text says ‘Balloon’ and ‘Family’.

This was such a great way to solve the problem of what to do with books past their shelf life.  Older children will no doubt be able to put together proper narratives, but this was a lovely introduction for A to creating her own tales and linking up her pictures and writing.  We’ve got loads of pictures left and I’m sure A will have plenty of ideas of how to use them.  No more books in bins, we’ll be breathing new life into them from now on.

Laura's Lovely Blog

Read With Me

Pink Pear Bear

Sharing a Shell

DSC_5076Last week I waxed lyrical about how lovely it was to get Daddy involved in our book fun. Well, this week it’s the girls’ Granny’s turn to take the lead and bring a book to life.

When I was little, Granny (know to me as The Mothership) was a reading role model.  She always had a book on the go, strongly encouraged my reading and ensured we made great use of our local library.  From an early age I adored books and I still recall the rush of independence that came with learning to read; a whole world had been opened up to me and it was her wonderful example that made sure I was eager to explore it.

Well, now she’s proving a great influence on my children too.  On her last visit, she brought a box of shells she’d collected and asked me to hunt down a beachy sort of book.  Sharing a Shell, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks, is a bright, engaging tale that I introduced when we were having some sharing ‘issues’ with the girls. It gave us a nice starting point for talking about the benefits of sharing and appreciating others.

In Sharing a Shell, Crab finds a new shell, which he ends up sharing with a couple of other sea critters, Blob and Brush, each bringing something unique and valuable to the table.  Sadly, Crab and his shell-mate Blob have a falling out and the three go their separate ways before Brush manages to bring them back to together and we leave the rock pool with the trio living in perfect harmony.

What did Granny do?

First of all, Granny got the box of shells out and spent some time sharing them with the girls. They talked about the texture and the way the shells looked and she told them about where she collected them and what they were.  After selecting the shell that looked most like Crab’s home, Granny read the book with the girls before heading off to the table to do some shell inspired drawings.


What were originally some interesting drawings of the shells were soon jazzed up by A adding Crab, Blob and Brush into the mix.  The story was still clearly on her mind and both girls had a lovely time observing, exploring and creating.

How did it go?

This was a simple activity that grounded a lovely story in the real world, something I’m always a fan of doing. A and V are always happy to get involved with drawing and creating so they were more than happy to stay shell-focused for a while.  The shells fascinated them and they learned the word ‘delicate’ from their exploration of the more fragile examples. It was a lovely and engaging way to extend their vocabularies and I’ve already built on it with other interesting objects.

How can you use this?

  • Find an unusual object and see if your child can think of a book it links to
  • Sandwich a story reading between other relevant activities if you’ve got a more reluctant reader – this all felt nicely paced and progressed naturally from one thing to the next
  • Introduce characters into drawing activities – it was lovely seeing Blob, Crab and Brush appear in A’s shell still lifes


Read With Me