Growing up in the 50's and 60's, it was ingrained in my soul that you just don't write in book margins..nor do you ever cut or tear pages of books..at least NOT on purpose! The idea of doing those things to a book..intentionally.. always seemed somehow..really wrong. Nevertheless I knew that some of my most esteemed art teaching colleagues had found that students really love altering books. So that's why I welcomed some discarded donations from our librarian. When snow was predicted to shut down our schools in the Memphis area for a few days in early January, I grabbed a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank before leaving my classroom from the pile of discarded library books and began a journey into the world of altered books. For the next few days, I moved my mixed media supplies close to the fireside in my living room and with snow gently falling out my window, I began searching YouTube videos for altered book techniques. I added these videos to our Middle School Art Class webpage and began trying them out with the Anne Frank book. Soon I was writing up a lesson for my 8th Grade students that would change the way we both look at books and stretch their talents and skills as they followed the list of criteria I designed to serve as a guide through these themed works of art. Upon our return to school, I asked them to select a book from the crate for altering. I handed them the list of criteria and showed them how to begin preparing their books for this process. As students, tore, cut, gessoed, painted, glued and charred the pages of their books they became more enthralled with the process. Their ideas emerged and soon they were independently researching subjects to include in their pages. Some took the books home to work on them and showed up after school to continue with their new-found obsession. What about me? Altering The Diary of Anne Frank did the same to my experience. I found myself wanting to read more about her and to reverently and authentically express visually with the pages what she so eloquently penned. Since these students were coincidentally studying The Diary of Anne Frank in English class, we had engaging discussions. Daily students would ask to see the progress of my book as I worked along side them. They gleaned ideas from one another and from me, but each book became the unique expression of a personal voice. I also saw them applying skills and techniques that they had learned from previous lessons while they experimented with materials in new ways. Although some have finished their books, some are continuing to find new things to add beyond the criteria. Making art not because they have to..not for extra credit..but because they want to. So, once again, my perspective has changed and I guess it's okay after all to distress a few pages from a book on it's way to the dumpster. Especially if in the process, students are finding themselves obsessed with art making and wanting to learn more.