Sustainable Design: Growbooks

Growbooks Snapshot

I’ve broken up the Growbooks into different chunks that will either be tackled in parallel or in serial. The first and foremost most important step is to define the basics of the book such as the size, the length, the audience and the type.


Currently we are thinking about pursuing board books despite the high costs of production. Now board books are a format-specific subgenre of the traditional picture book. Usually stories are published via conventional picture books and then printed on board books as a means of providing a pretty durable book for children between the ages of 0-3. Familiar board book printed stories are The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? Usually the boards are a minimum of two plies of paperboard thickness, which is about 1 mm thick. These paper boards are usually made from white board or gray board. White board is made from pressed cardboard with a white laminated surface and white fibers all the way through while gray board is pressed cardboard with gray fibers in the middle of it. Board books are often specially folded and bound together and have a page count between 8-22. The page size can range between 3 to 7 inches. For more information on board books check out hbook.


To reduce material count, we’re thinking abut producing a square book that is 4in x 4 in or 6 in x 6 in max. This is going to affect our ability to source outside printing.


We’re aiming to provide a book to 2-5 year olds, so the category would be a Picture Book-Young Picture Book. Now this is a wide audience target and our choice of a board book might not be appealing to the older audience. But the primary function of using a board book is to somehow integrate the seeds into the page and we’ll explore that in more depth later.

Now toddlers usually fall under the category of concept books. These books explore topics like animals, feelings, colors, numbers, etc. They also use rhymes with simple story lines that are meant to be read out loud. Not to mention, the pictures are often very large and colorful to make it a more interactive and sensory exploration book. My nephew is about to turn 3, so he will be the perfect candidate to test this book on.

Because we are integrating the growing aspect into the book, it may appeal to preschoolers as well. Their selection of books promotes problem solving, imagination and simple information that might include different cultures, plants, animals, etc. Illustrations are still key but now the word count can be larger and the word type can be a bit more developed. Check out readingbrightstart for more info on selecting books for children of different ages.

Now as the idea develops overtime, we may choose to instead use a regular picture book depending on the cost of our material choice and processes.


I would like the book to be relatively short and sweet so no longer than 22 pages, that is the length that the The Very Hungry Caterpillar was. I’m also a big fan of rhymes so I would like this to be incorporated in the story and of course have there be at least one illustration every 2-4 lines.

Operating Scenario:

Now what will the operating scenario look like? This will help me define the materials and processes for the “hardware” components of the book.


Rough Process Sketch

I’ve defined two different operating scenarios. One is where the seeds are located in the pages of the board book that the user submerges into water, which causes the pages to expand and the seeds to germinate. The other scenario is where the seeds are located in the cover of the book and thus the cover can either be detached from the pages or the entire book can still be planted. The packaging that that the book comes in can be used to plant the book in whether it be a burlap sack or a cardboard box. There are many ideas that are loosely spelled out in this diagram. And so this brings me to my next series of tasks:

  1. Define my Consumer Needs
  2. Define my Metrics
  3. Define my Product Specifications
  4. Define my Functional Requirements

I’m taking an engineering stance on this problem. While I do have preconceived ideas of what my product should look like and be, I really want to define the product statement and go through the process of defining these parameters.  So it’s important to note that at this stage nothing is concrete and that different ideas may yield outputs than what we previously discussed. So now that you have a generalized picture of what I’m thinking these growbooks should be and look like, lets see if we can really refine this idea.


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