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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Making Books

As a teacher I love the beginning of a new school year.  I always feel like I could get lost for hours shopping for new school supplies.  Deciding on just the right new pen that will be the key to a great new year.  As a new mom I am just learning how to balance my natural instinct to bury myself in work while also being present for my son.  I'll let you know if I ever figure out that mystery! In the meantime I am just doing the best I can.  

I was reminded of this balance recently when a parent of one of my kinders asked what she could do to encourage her reluctant reader to read.  We went through several suggestions but there was one in particular that I wanted to share because I think it represents some of the kinds of family learning activities I truly believe instill life long learning while also strengthening family bonds.  I talked to this parent about making very short books together.  I told her that one way to turn her young child into an enthusiastic reader is to make her an author.  One way to do this was to create simple books.  There are many ways to do this.  For example, if you are not sure where to begin you can go shopping for a simple inexpensive sticker sheet that has one of your child's favorite character's... Disney Princesses, Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse, even something generic.  Stick one sticker per page and let them dictate a simple sentence.... "Thomas is on the track.", "Thomas is with Percy.", "Thomas says choo-choo."  After a few simple pages your child can add a color background to each.  Staple the pages and you have a new treasured book for your child to read! Depending on their age level you can make this simple or complex.  The point is that your child will have a book with predictable text that they will love reading.  They may even want to go to the library to look for other train books for inspiration.  Hopefully their appetite for reading will begin to grow!

Raise the FLF: You can really turn the notch up for this activity by involving the whole family.  This summer I tried this with the kids I was watching plus my own son.  I was trying to develop literacy activities for children that ranged from 15 months to 9 years old.  Towards the end of the summer I knew it was time to turn up the interest dial.  I printed out some pictures from some of our park outings and we decided to make a book together.  They had so much fun sorting through the pictures (about 10 of them) and choosing which should go on their page.  To keep this realistic I only let each child do 3 pages, any more and it would stop being fun (mainly for me)!

Once each child chose 1 picture I asked them to add text that made sense for their age.  For the 4 year old, he dictated a simple sentence and I had him trace the one word I wanted him to focus on.  I also made a word box where he copied this word.  The 5 year old, dictated a sentence.  I wrote what she said but I left a blank for the 2 words I thought she could handle writing herself (for Katie it was her name and the word can), for the 9 year old, I asked him to write a paragraph.  I explained that his page would be the introduction to the book so we talked about main idea.  This sounds complicated but it took me about 5 minutes to set up and about 15 minutes of quiet working for each page...ahh quiet working an Auntie and Teacher's dream! I posted the pictures below:

Yes, even my son got in on the action... he loved "working" while his older cousins worked.  He practiced scribbling with his washable crayons and holding the leftover pictures in his hands. We practiced naming our favorite places in the pictures.   If interested, I can scan and upload our finished product.  We just slipped them into a dollar store presentation book.  Try this with your family after a family trip to the zoo or even with a regular's day worth of pictures.  You'll get your kid(s) reading AND have a great family memory book!


  1. I am convinced that I wound up working in communications/media/publishing because I was not only read to as a child, but also encouraged to write my "own" books. And I am a member of Gen X! I love that your little one is already emulating the writing and reading projects he is witnessing from his high chair. Something tells me he might go on to become a professor....

  2. Hey - this is a good idea! We usually make up stories and have our son make up parts with us...never thought of making an actual book but I suspect it would go over well. Thanks!

    1. Making up stories supports so many areas of learning but it is also plain fun! Thanks for the reminder... I have to try it with my kinders soon!

  3. I adore this idea! And especially how well you tailored it to multiple age levels.

  4. This is such a great idea!!! Can't wait to try it out.