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Monday, November 9, 2009
Turning Pages transforms old, damaged books into works that help kids learn to read
By Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood | The Grand Ra...
November 08, 2009, 4:11AM
sally berry.jpgPhotos by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood | The Grand Rapids PressSally Berry, director of Turning Pages, the Grand Rapids Reading Institute, uses her scrapbooking skills to recycle old, damaged books into new word books. The economy is forcing many to figure out ways to get by with less, and creative types like Sally Berry seem to thrive when faced with this challenge.
As the director of Turning Pages, the Grand Rapids Reading Institute, Berry, 47, knows a thing or two about educating on a tight budget. It has been a way of life since she founded the nonprofit seven years ago. Turning pages is a paid service that helps adults and children with reading disabilities.
Berry contacted me a short time after she cooked up a plan to use a donated box of old and damaged books to help people learn to read.
She explained that she and her staff of 15 reading tutors were converting the damaged children’s books into word books using scrapbooking supplies, images ripped from old magazines, decoupage medium and letter stickers.
Since I have two children who are learning to read, I couldn’t wait to hear more about Berry’s educational craft project. During a recent meeting, she showed me how she transformed a stack of tattered and dated books into fun and useful learning tools.
First, she taped back together the front and back covers of the books and embellished them with paper collages sealed with decoupage medium. She taped the inside pages together in groups of two with double-stick tape to form sturdier pages. From there, she used scrapbook paper, die cuts, stickers and magazine images to illustrate the words spelled out on each page. She reinforced the binding with strips of paper taped or glued into the creases between each new page.
An avid book lover, Berry couldn’t bring herself to pitch the damaged books that were too dated and damaged to use with students. So she decided to get out her scrapbooking supplies and transform them into something useful.
While Berry said she would have a hard time turning a new book into an altered collage, transforming the pages of the first book she picked from the damaged pile was easy.
“It was a really silly story,” Berry said, recalling the 1970s book was “kind of sexist, so I didn’t have any problem covering it up.”
What a creative way to reduce access to offensive content without piling it in the landfill. So, if you don’t like what the old book in the attic says, change it.
Berry’s “ck” themed book includes 12 words including “luck,” “rock” and “lick,” and each page is decorated to illustrate the word.
Berry taught kindergarten in Kentucky before moving to West Michigan in 1996 when her husband landed a job here. Not long after the move, she saw a job ad for tutoring and started teaching kids to read through a Kalamazoo nonprofit. Eventually, she was inspired to start Turning Pages in Grand Rapids, with two fellow tutors, and delve deeper into multisensory instructional strategies — including the Orton-Gillingham Instruction method, which combines visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile teaching methods.
The goal, Berry says, is to teach students to use their senses and retrieve reading information from four areas of the brain instead of relying just on audio and visual triggers.
Berry offers intensive $500 training sessions for parents and teachers looking to become tutors at Turning Pages, but the great thing about her approach is that many of her methods are easy enough for parents to try at home.
Seven years after founding Turning Pages, Berry has accumulated a wealth of low-budget craft project ideas that can help students become more proficient readers.
In addition to word books, Berry makes low-cost tin foil/felt boards that function like white boards when students and teachers write on the foil side with dry eraser markers and erase with a block created by glueing a piece of felt to the bottom of a block. The reverse side of the board is covered with felt on which students and teachers can stick felt letters to spell.
Berry has students spell words by dragging their fingers through colorful sand spread out on cookie sheets and writing with dry-erase markers on worksheets kept inside plastic page protectors.
Both methods allow students to keep erasing and practicing.
“I just love it,” Berry said of teaching students to read. “I’ve never had a bad experience with a student using this method.”
I love it, too, and plan to transform some damaged books, tin foil, felt and sand into new educational tools for the kids.
Send your comments and story ideas to Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch Jennifer demonstrate craft projects at 9 a.m. Fridays on WZZM-TV Channel 13’s “Take Five & Company.”