An Ode to the Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual

An Ode to the Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual | The Readers Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual served as a source of creative inspiration for me as a child.  I loved flipping through its pages and dreaming up project ideas.

The Complete Do-it-yourself Manual

When I was growing up, the 1973 edition of the Reader’s Digest Complete Do-it-yourself Manual sat on a shelf in our garage.  I was born in 1984, so the book was well over a decade old by the time I was reading it.  I wasn’t really that into the handyman section – replacing gutters isn’t very exciting to a kid.  But I would pore over all of the cool projects in this book.  I would “borrow” my dad’s handtools and make creations out of scrap wood.  I would dream of one day building a perfect tree house from scratch.  Or building a beautiful toy chest or doll house.  I would mess around in our yard and garage, making weird structures that often didn’t really serve much purpose – a one person see saw, a strap to steer my wagon better down hills, a bridge to cross over puddles in our yard.  My parents gave me the space to use my imagination and mess around, and I’m forever grateful for that.  My dad’s copy of the Complete Do-it-yourself manual now sits in my home office, and every time I see it, I’m reminded of those important creative experiences I had as a child.

My parents gave me the space to use my imagination & mess around & I'm forever grateful. Click To Tweet
Periscope, tent & stilts | How can you not want to make stuff like this? |
How can you not want to make stuff like this?

Inspiring Creativity in our students

Reflecting back on this got me thinking about how we can inspire this kind of creativity in our students.  How we need to build up a collection of maker related books to inspire our students with project ideas.  How we need to cultivate an atmosphere where students feel safe to mess around, try new things and use their imaginations.  Where they can both follow guided projects to learn new skills and explore and experiment on their own.  Where they don’t have to worry about judgement or criticism from adults or peers.

Think about your library space – does it inspire this kind of creativity in your students?  If not, how can you get it there?

(By the way, Reader’s Digest is still publishing new editions of the Complete Do-it-yourself Manual, but I haven’t read the newer ones)

The Complete Do-it-yourself manual | I still say the 1973 version is the best :) |
I still say the 1973 version is the best 🙂

2 thoughts on “An Ode to the Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual”

  1. My daughters are so much into how to books right now. They soak them up and ooze everything they can from them. Like your parents (and very different from mine) I encourage creativity and a makers mindset in my house (also creativity is messy but I love it). Reading this did make me think about how our students can be the next readers digest for future generations. Make a project then make a how to post or video. It’s a great way to share knowledge and reflect on our accomplishments. I am so used ng this idea when my students finish their first PBL projects…heck any project!!!

  2. Reading this post brought back memories of how I used to do the same kind of tinkering in my parents garage too! I have a nice scar on my left thumb from the time I tried to cut the bottom out of one of those huge ice cream buckets when I was in 2nd grade. I was making some type of elaborate maze for water to flow through, or so I thought. Although we never had the do-it-yourself manual, I loved building and making things in the garage and outside in the yard! Thanks for the post!

Comments are closed.