Featured article: “How a book is made: ink, paper and a 200,000 pound printer” by Elizabeth A. Harris with photography and video by Thomas Prior
This article begins with a question: “Have you ever wondered how a book becomes a book?” Well, have you? Do you know what special materials are needed? The equipment that is involved? The stages that a manuscript must go through to end up on the shelves?
In this interactive article you will follow the printing process of Marlon James’ new book “Moon Witch, Spider King”. Then we invite you to create your own brief visual explainer of the process or research how something else is made.
Do you often read physical books? Or do you prefer listening to audiobooks or reading on an e-reader? What do you think would be lost if physical books disappeared from the world? Nothing?
Spend a few minutes writing about what the books mean to you.
The article you will read today is about how books are made. Get a hardcover or paperback book and study it carefully. How do you think this book was made? What do you notice on the cover? About Pages? About how it is related?
Next, make two lists. On the first, write all the material you think is needed to make a book. On the second, write down the steps you think you’ll take when printing a book.
Share your lists with a partner and add anything you might have missed.
Writing and Discussion Questions
Read the articlethen answer the following questions:
1. According to the article, why are physical books still relevant today?
2. What are the essential materials involved in making books? Go back to the list you made during the warm-up. What materials did you choose well? What else should you add?
3. What role does Glenn McCarthy, a journalist, play in the bookmaking process? What role does Sal Peri, press operator, play?
4. How does the printing press work? How do the workers involved ensure that the process runs smoothly?
5. What part of the book-making process did you find most fascinating, and why? What’s a new thing you’ve learned about making books that you didn’t know before?
6. How did ‘Moon Witch, Spider King’ author Marlon James feel when he saw his book?
Option 1: Design an explainer.
Summarize the process of making a book for a child. You can create a one-page explainer using a Canva template or design your own. First, introduce the steps by writing a simple sentence for each step. Think carefully about your audience when choosing language and sentence structure.
Next, brainstorm which images best represent each step. You can draw your own images, use stock images, or use images from the original article if you cite the photographer and source. Finally, put your words and images together in a clear and accessible explanation. You can share your explainer with your classmates for feedback, or even share it with someone younger in your life.
Option 2: Research how something else is made.
In this lesson, you learned how a book is constructed. What other elements would you like to know more about? For example, you can check out Insider’s “Making Of” series, which includes videos on how to make $200 jeans, stopboards, and Fender guitars. Or you can choose something else in your class, home, or community to research. Find at least two sources that provide reliable information on the making of the item. Then, follow the steps in Option 1 to create an explainer summarizing the process.
Want more daily lessons? You can find them all here.