Adapting Coffee Table Books

By: MaryAnn Demchak & Marty Elquist 

Do you have students who enjoy looking at picture books? Do your students enjoy exploring books that are enhanced with textures, but the readily available books are intended for toddlers and preschoolers? Adapting coffee table books might be your answer. According to Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, “a coffee table book is a style of hardcover book designed to rest on a coffee table or similar surface in an area where guests sit and are entertained, thus inspiring conversation or alleviating boredom. They tend to be oversized and of heavy construction, since there is no pressing need for portability. Subject matter is generally confined to non-fiction, and is usually visually-oriented. Pages consist mainly of photographs and illustrations, accompanied by captions and small blocks of text, as opposed to long prose. History, art, entertainment, and biography are popular genres.”

In essence coffee table books are basically adult “picture books.” The great thing about such books is that you can find them on a wide variety of topics that can be of interest to various students. You can also frequently find them in the “clearance” sections of book stores. These books lend themselves to easy adaptations.

Making the books more durable:
It if is necessary to make pages more durable, you can use contact paper or laminating sheets that “self seal” and do not require heat. (Be aware that you could also be increasing the glare that might be present.) You can even glue a piece of cardboard in between two pages to create a durable “board book” (typically only an option book intended for young children).

Please note, depending upon the nature of the textures you add, the book will likely be much thicker than it was originally and even become impossible to close. Thus, you want to add textures selectively and will probably not add them to every page.

Add page fluffers:

For students who have motor difficulties, you can add page fluffers to make it easier for them to turn pages. You could add the page fluffers specifically to those pages on which textures have been added to help focus the student’s attention to “ interesting” pages. Please see our Tip Sheet on the various ways to add page fluffers.

Books highlighted in this tip sheet:

  • Barrow, S. (2005). Silent moments. Philadelphia: Courage Books Hyland, J. W. (2000). Lighthouses. Metro Books.
  • Dabdoub, R. (2003). Micro art. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing.