Making a School Storybook

I’ve almost completed the latest of the STORIES4SCHOOLS’ books and here you can see some of the process of taking it from the original work by the children to becoming their final book.

Before the work gets to me, the children and teachers have been working for weeks, putting their stories and illustrations together. Each class sought inspiration in different ways with some visiting local museums and places of interest and others researching local history, legends and stories. For the youngest children in Reception, many are at the very early stages of writing independently and capturing their very imaginative ideas into collaborative stories has its own unique challenges.

For this book the older children in Year 6 have created a series of poems and in the final book this provides a nice visual expression of the development of skills and approaches across the different year groups from the beautifully expressive drawings in Reception to the technically sophisticated poems in Year 6.

Once complete, the written stories are sent to me by email and the illustrations arrive like this:

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Before that lot can be dealt with the stories need to be ‘copy-edited’. This means checking for initial spellings, typos and punctuation inconsistencies and making some changes to the stories. Changes are kept to a minimum with an emphasis on staying true to the original work. Typically they include things like altering descriptions that may not be understood by children living in different parts of the world.

Once copy-edited the stories are stripped of all formatting and then placed onto the pages of the book. It’s at this stage that I begin looking for where to place page breaks and deciding which stories lend themselves to double-page spreads.

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With the stories in place I can now see how much room is available for the illustrations. I then need to start working through that big pile of drawings. Each illustration is scanned or photographed and placed into a folder attached to the relevant story. Once scanned, the illustrations are then edited. This typically involves digitally cutting images and combining them in ways that will allow for the text to appear alongside the illustrations in the book. It can also involve manipulating characters so they appear in different positions throughout the stories and altering their facial expressions to suit the mood of the text they will sit with.

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The next part can be tricky as it involves ensuring the text is as clear as possible while showing as much of the illustrations as possible. To achieve this the colours and sizes of the drawings are tweaked so too are the text and titles.

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When this has been completed for every story, we have our first draft and this is sent to the school to check for errors and changes.

When all changes are complete and everyone is happy, the next stage is to create a book cover. This is usually inspired by the title of the book and for this book a selection of work by children in every year group was combined to make the final cover image.

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Again this has to be checked and approved. Once done, the book can then be sent to print. Copies are then provided to the school who by now are busy organising their next challenge – their book launch event.

Meanwhile copies of their book are sent to schools in different parts of the world. These are selected at random and include schools in developing nations along with those closer to home with the aim of encouraging schools to make new links by exchanging stories.

You can find more details and get involved at www.stories4schools.com

Thank you once again to Knightlow School for their brilliant work.

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