Five years ago, when teaching English in Korea, I stumbled upon a blog post that showed how to make a cool folded squash book. I loved it so much that I built it into the core of my mystery/detective summer English camp; we added a new page and elements each day.
I have tried to find that blog post (or was it a video?) several times since, but my efforts have always been unsuccessful. “Smash book” would give me these crazy scrapbooks, “folded paper book” or “mini book” would always result in these kinds of paper books, and apparently these are “accordion books.” (I completely forgot I had the above video in my private YouTube videos until the writing of this post, by the way. I probably could have figured it out by watching and pausing that!)
But years went by, and the thought “it would be fun to make one of those folded books again” continued to enter my mind every now and then.
Last month I decided to give the search another go, and somehow, I found it!
They’re called “squash books.”
I made a few last night for fun, and in the process was swarmed with new ideas of ways I could use them. One of the ideas I jotted on a scrap of paper was “pocket poems.”
You see, a few years ago my friend Max memorized some poems and recited one to me when we were video chatting. I thought it would be cool to memorize a poem at some point too. That thought stayed with me over the years… and remained a thought in the back of my mind.
There are many other small “it would be cool to…” creative things that have been living together in my mind, so at the end of 2018 I made a list of them. Finally got them out of my head and onto paper. Making a paper squash book and memorizing a poem both made the list.
Making a Pocket Poetry Smash Book
I used this video (same one I linked to earlier) to jog my memory on how to fold each square page. It’s pretty simple, you only need to make one diagonal fold, and then flip the paper over and fold in half vertically, unfold, and then fold in half horizontally. I glued five folded squares together to get this book at the length I wanted.
There are so many ways I could have split up the verses and written it inside the book. I decided to tip the book onto its point, so the cover was a diamond shape, and to write the poem so that the book opens vertically.
I only wrote verses on the three main diamond sections (seen in the image below) so that I could read the poem in sections, without having to open the whole thing up.
Thus I can read the poem one section at a time, only opening to the size of one diamond. The video below of the finished book shows what I mean:
You’ll see I put covers on both ends of the squash book, which is totally optional. I cut up some cardstock scraps for the bookends so that it would be sturdier.
The book pops open when you set it down flat, so currently I’ve got mine held closed with a paperclip. You could certainly add some sort of simple tie with string or ribbon to keep it closed, as well.
Now I need to start carrying this around with me and read the poem often!
How about you, have you ever made a squash book? What do/would you put inside?
And do you also have little “it would be cool to make…” ideas in the back of your mind? I invite you to write them down and start making them this year with me! I’d love to hear if you do anything like this, or if you make your own pocket poetry squash book.