A Book of One's Own: Developing Literacy Through Making Books by Paul Johnson (1992) argues, persuasively, that small handmade books can be perfect steppingstones to all sorts of writing experiences, especially for young people who are often intimidated by an expanse of blank paper. "Concertina books", "Origami books", and others of simple design are straightforward to fold. They offer a finite framework for creativity, and when finished are easy to store and retrieve, unlike many other art projects.

Johnson gives detailed instructions for bookmaking, and showcases a variety of books which his students have crafted. One in particular grabbed my attention both because of its clever structure and its name. Madhouse Death is an illustrated horror story in a handful of pages. Its author ("David", age 9) added another dimension to his house-book by using cut-out fold-open windows and doors through one layer of paper to reveal interior rooms --- scenes and messages in the normally-hidden inner layers of paper. Brilliant!

Paul Johnson's later book, Literacy Through the Book Arts, continues the saga. Besides displaying lovely examples of children's book projects, the author philosophizes about book, art, and mind:

But the book is where we discover most about ourselves. The journal, diary, notebook, sketchbook are all systems that make meaning possible. Some people write; others draw; some do both. The diaries and letters of the literati reveal some of the most perceptive observations of their time. The sketchbooks of Turner and Picasso are illuminating in showing the visual journey they made in arriving at their seminal work. The notebook sketchbook is a great liberator of the imagination because it falls outside the hierarchy of "Art." One is permitted to produce lesser-art in them, to be adventurous and capricious, and in doing so the freedom to be oneself can produce visionary statements that would otherwise not be made in the more conscious pursuit of excellence. But most importantly, it is the psychology of making a book that is so compelling. The organization and development of ideas through the discipline of paginated sequence of writing and/or visual statements has produced some of the greatest achievements of civilization. Yet all it is, is a bundle of papers joined together.

Perhaps Wiki has some of that bookish creativity-liberating quality too?! As do other journaling-authoring-blogging systems?

(see also JohnsonOnAnecdotes (19 Apr 1999), ...)

TopicRecreation - TopicLiterature - TopicJournalizing - 2003-09-03

(correlates: Worth of a State, ObliviousAce, Spam Patrol, ...)