If you have done a project like this with your students, please add your advice to the comment section below.

Funding a classroom library can be challenging. Here are some ways to do that:

While you are waiting for your funds to come in, take a look at the second-to-last option on the list above. Explore having students create hand-crafted books. Assign your upper-level students the task of producing books for your lower-level students. My students have all benefitted from this Student-Made Book Project. The upper-levels get to refine their thinking and writing, and the lower-levels get something interesting and unique to read–often written by an older sibling or friend.

This project works for both the writers and the readers on a number of levels:

Sheltered Vocabulary. I tell the student writers not to use dictionaries initially as they create their books. This naturally shelters the vocabulary because the words a level 3, 4, or 5 student can produce are at a much lower level than the ones they can recognize (or look up). It naturally produces writing that is comprehensible to the target level 1 and 2 readers.

Compelling Input. Since the stories are written by older students, the younger readers tend to find them more interesting than commercially bought books. They often know the authors personally – sometimes its even an older sibling .This helps them to think more clearly in the target language and to understand how good writing works.

Writing Practice. The writers get valuable practice writing, re-writing, critiquing and editing. This is something few of them have ever done.

Solid Learning and Teaching. Stephen Krashen describes the benefits of handcrafted books in Foreign Language Education The Easy Way (Language Education Associates, 1997). I’ve been assigning this project to students ever since I first read that little book ages ago. It has been a hit with my students over the years and they’ve always learned a lot from it.

A Bigger Classroom Library. The proud additions to the classroom library are a plus. The hand-crafted books give students something else to read and they are often quite good. I still have some of the charming books made by students over the years.

You can download the complete instructions and rubrics for the project here: STUDENT MADE BOOK PROJECT.

Here are what a few of these student-made books look like:

Have you tried a project like this with your students? What worked? What didn’t? Please share your experience.