Book Design Workshop (LS-HR-585)

In this learning scenario secondary school students learn about European literacy and create an imaginary book design. It observes April as a month celebrating literature. The activities give an insight into the rise of European literacy and examine today’s reading habits and preferences. Students will find out more about writing and reading practices throughout history and compare them to their own. One of its most attractive activities is marbling paper. Students will watch a tutorial on how to apply the long-abandoned practice of marbling the book’s endpaper (paper patterns and illustrations inside book covers), and then try it out themselves.

The whole learning process mostly relies on students’ creativity – each team will design an imaginary book appealing to a contemporary reader. The design includes the title, front and back cover with a short description. Students imagine, draw, design and write. For this to emerge as an end product, some reading and critical thinking has to be done first.

First, students read about the Europeana project of digitizing European textual heritage and critically value the initiative. Then they analyze the article about the rise of literacy, from the first papyri scrolls to early university practices and onward. Discussing their own reading habits, students acknowledge the challenges of contemporary book publishing.

Finally, each team designs an imaginary book, which has to meet the needs of today’s reader. The marbled endpaper may complement the design, but it doesn’t have to. After some exploration of Europeana and other resources for the development of alphabets and fonts, the book is then re-designed to appeal to a reader in the past.

This learning scenario encourages students to learn more about European literacy history, employing their creativity and hands-on work on an imaginary book design – in class or at home.

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Mauritshuis.

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