________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 15 . . . . March 31, 2006


Get Writing! Creative Book-Making Projects for Children.

Paul Johnson.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2006.
64 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 1-55138-201-6.

Subject Headings:
Creative writing (Primary education).
Book design-Study and teaching (Primary).
Storytelling ability in children.


Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4


Writing and drawing in a book that you have made yourself is magical.


In Get Writing!, Paul Johnson includes over one hundred book-making projects to add variety to any elementary classroom. Johnson has put together an extensive collection of creative ideas for “publishing” student writing. Book publishing need not be limited only to commercially or professionally produced texts. I prefer to think of publishing as any opportunity for students to share their writing and, thus, to enhance their concepts of themselves as authors.

     This book is a very useful professional resource to augment elementary writing classrooms. With so many creative ideas contained within it, Get Writing! can extend even the most imaginative and successful writers' workshops. The book is designed as a tool for educators to use to teach their students about book construction. I find the written directions and step-by-step illustrations easy to follow. As I read the book, I followed the directions and was easily able to construct some of my own (admittedly blank) books. Most of the book-making projects require nothing more than paper, scissors, and a number of well-placed folds. Some others require a ruler and glue. Almost without exception, a well-stocked classroom will contain everything that is required.

     The suggested book forms vary in sophistication. The range includes simple zigzag and four-page books, through a variety of pop-up formats, through to elaborate lotus books and sewn books. The list of options is limited only by how much time teachers want their students to invest into book construction. Certainly, book construction should not supplant book writing, but that is not Johnson's intent. Rather, the book construction provides additional interest to inspire writing.

     As a professional resource, I would have liked to see some discussion of the author's qualifications. The text lacks even the basic “About the Author” paragraph. It happens that I am somewhat aware of Johnson's credentials. He conducted the Book Art Project out of Manchester Metropolitan University for over a decade. He has been a strong advocate for developing literacy skills through book art and book construction and has published a number of books and articles in professional journals.

     As Johnson points out in his introductory comments, for some children, “writing can be a drag.” The creative potpourri of options that Johnson provides might be just the thing that those children need to change their attitudes so that writing becomes stimulating. One wonders how many talented writers have been lost to the world because they did not enjoy school “writing time.” Perhaps this book can help make writing more enjoyable for all. Get Writing! is very easy to read, easy to follow, and potentially of great use in the classroom.


Gregory Bryan teaches literacy courses in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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