The first English printer, William Caxton, was born on this day in 1422.
Gutenburg invented the printing press, but William Caxton was the first person to use a printing press to print books in English. Caxton printed over 100 different titles, including every work in English literature available at the time.
Have your students consider how the printing press affects their world by completing a printing inventory. Ask students to spend a day writing down everything they use that has been printed, such as books, pamphlets, even cereal boxes. The next day, compare the lists and develop a "super" list of all the printed materials that you and your students interact with. Once the list is complete, invite students to discuss the impact that printing has on their lives and to project the changes that may occur as computers enable people to share information digitally rather than in print.
This site features a Free Activities page where students can learn about bookmaking in different cultures and find instructions to help them make their own books. The site also provides pages for teachers and families.
The BBC offers a brief biography of Caxton and links to related resources.
One of Caxton's most famous publications is his editions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. This site includes video images of the rare books as well as historical information about Caxton and printing.