Grade 4 textbooks for a homeschooling family: We got ’em (plastic) covered
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I love the look, smell, and feel of new books. The shiny, uncreased covers. The woodsy scent of fresh pulp when I fan the pages in my face. The smooth pages of text begging to the written on and annotated. It is the first day of June, and we are less than two weeks away from the start of the new school year. My son’s Grade 4 textbooks came by courier several days ago. As soon as I had unpacked the books from the courier’s box, I spread them out on the bedroom floor and took one long, admiring look at the tightly-bound tomes that will loyally serve us for the next 10 months.
Then it was time for my cherished annual ritual: applying plastic film on the books’ covers to minimize wear and tear. After determining that I had an ample supply of plastic film to cover all of my son’s Grade 4 textbooks, it was time to get down to the business of covering them. As I started to go about the task, I recalled my mother’s cumbersome book-covering method, which involved using two large jars (of sugar and coffee) to prop up the body of the book and keep the covers flat, while the book stood on its spine. Then she would meticulously apply the plastic film, smoothing out the surface so no air came between the cover and the film, before securing the edges with adhesive tape. The result was a book that looked like it had plastic for skin. My mom would commandeer our small dining table for the task, so she often did so after dinner. Her method made sure I had the best-covered textbooks in class, but looking back now, as a mother covering her own child’s textbooks, I recognize that it was more trouble than it was worth.
My own book-covering style takes very little pains to follow. I simply cut an appropriate sized rectangle of plastic film to cover the book, with an inch to spare on all sides. Next I wrap the film around the book’s over cover, making sure that the spine in right smack in the center, and fold the excess film over the vertical edges of the covers. A little snipping and folding under the ends of the book’s spine and then I’m ready to fasten the film to the book with cellophane tape. I accomplish this while sitting on the floor, with the book resting on my lap. I managed to leisurely cover all 11 of my son’s Grade 4 textbooks under 40 minutes. There are creases and uneven folds here and there, but I’m confident the books will hold up to constant abuse.
Many big-name private schools in the Philippines have begun to use e-textbooks in the classroom. While I admire the educational sector’s readiness to embrace technology, I’m a little hesitant to waive the white flag when it comes to textbooks. I acknowledge that e-textbooks help save our trees and spare our kids from a premature visit to the chiropractor. But I’m not ready to give up print just yet. For one thing, e-textbooks are not much cheaper than their print versions. Printed books are larger; there is no need for pinch-or-spread finger gestures. Flipping through the pages is faster and switching between books a lot easier with printed books. The sensation of a pencil or pen gliding over the book paper is yet to be replicated on e-books. What really breaks the e-book deal for me is the absence of the tactile experiences that you get from reading a print book. Although nowadays I do a lot more personal reading on my tablet that with a physical book, I’m in no hurry to start teaching my son from an e-textbook.