Happy first day of summer! Summer is the season of travel, sunshine, and beaches—but for us, it's also the season of summer reading lists! Our Summer Treat honors the booklovers of summer with a beautiful bookplate & bookmark printable, along with tips below on how to create your own! ☀️
About Our Bookplates
Why are we talking about bookplates? We've been busy here at the studio prepping for the arrival of our next book, Alphabet Adventure. As part of our prep, we designed our very first bookplate that will be included as a gift with all pre-orders!
While researching for our bookplate design, we realized they have a really fascinating history. So we decided to share what we've learned along with a free downloadable + DIY activity!
"From the Library Of" bookplate design in our Alphabet Adventure book
What is a Bookplate?
Bookplates are the name labels you stick inside your bookcovers to let people know who owns the book. However, unlike book labels which just have text, bookplates typically include a design that symbolizes or reflects its owner.
So while bookplates are simple, but they can also become collectible little works of art:
One of our favorites while researching! All archival bookplate images are courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, via Hyperallergenic
Wow, Tell Me More!
WELL, bookplates descended from book rhymes, which descended from book curses. That's right, actual curses! Back in medieval times, people would put curses on books and manuscripts to prevent others from stealing them. That's how precious books were. People took curses really seriously back then too, so it was no joke!
Here's a sample curse:
"If anyone take away this book,
let him die the death;
let him be fried in a pan;
let the falling sickness and fever seize him;
let him be broken on the wheel;
That's some serious cursing :x Things got a little less dramatic as time progressed, with books printed with warning rhymes such as "If you this book you take away, what will you say on Judgment Day?"
They then evolved again into bookplates, which during the 19th and 20th century saw some very beautiful designs! This was a time when more people were able to afford to collect personal libraries, and they were a matter of pride. The artwork was intended to be a reflection or symbol of the owner, so they were highly personal and honored a bookowner's collection too.
Actor Charlie Chaplin's bookplate
Author Jack London's (The Call of the Wild) bookplate
President Woodrow Wilson's bookplate
Make Your Own Bookplate!
You can use our designs by printing out our free Summer Treat, which offers two different versions to suit your taste plus a matching bookmark:
Or get creative and make your own! The elements of a bookplate are simple:
The Descriptor: The classic bookplates would read "Ex Libris," which is latin for "From the books of..." or "From the library of..." Those are great options too, or you can just simply put "This book belongs to" for clarity. Or go even more minimal—Charlie Chaplin just had "His book."
Your Name: Besides writing your name onto a label, think about how you can incorporate your name into the design like all the examples above. Jack London just had his name, and it worked simply but powerfully with his wolf design.
Artwork or graphics of your choice: This is the fun part! Try to create something that feels personal to you! People used to commission their bookplates from an artist or designer. That’s how seriously they took them. Bookplates would feature coats of arms, crests, badges, mottos, etc.
We chose two illustrations from Alphabet Adventure that reflect our love of books reading.
Community Feature: Storytime Book Club
Last but not least: For those of you with little ones at home and looking for a good summer reading list, we're happy to recommend Storytime Book Club!
Fellow children's book author Kristen Dickson put together this sweet community on Instagram, and we love her book selections and free activities. We are happy to support follow indie creatives who are passionate about picture books!
You can follow along with the weekly prompts now until August 6:
Happy reading ☀️☀️☀️