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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.