How and why to make books with your little reader

We do a lot of storytelling in my house, and find ways to bring reading into our everyday lives outside of bedtime read-alouds. Earlier this summer, I wrote about how we're using storytelling to get ready for kindergarten (we did the same to manage preK nerves)—we make up first-day-of-school stories to work out her hopes, fears and expectations around a new school. We also look for opportunities to do some reading as we go about our day, so that I can help my daughter understand that reading happens all the time, not just with books. That's why we stop to read signs that catch her eye. 

When she turned five back in May, we gave her a book-making kit, which came with three, small, bound books with blank pages, and a set of markers. She was able to make up her own story, create a cover, practice her writing, and draw her own illustrations. 

After we quickly ran through the three books that came in the kit, she realized that she could just fold a bunch of paper, ask us to staple it (the binding) and make her own books. She's gotten really into this, and it's been a fun way to practice reading, writing and storytelling. Also, like many parents, I always intend to write down the funny stuff she says, and I mostly forget to. It's frustrating. But these books give me a a little time capsule glimpse into her mind.

For example, earlier this summer she made a book for my sister-in-law's baby shower, which she entitled Parts of the Human Body. It began as an anatomy book, because she wanted to teach my sister-in-law about major organs such as lungs, the heart and the brain. But as she worked, it evolved into a baby-rearing advice book ("always weigh the baby").

She conceived the topic of the book, did some of the writing, all of the drawings, and dictated to my husband for sections that were too long to accomodate her giant handwriting. It was a sweet project that made my mama-heart feel so full, but also gave her an opportunity to practice reading and writing, and also do some higher-level conceptual thinking. Not bad for the summer time! 

Book-making is a nice project that you can adapt for any attention span, skill level or interest. And it's fun!

Above is the cover and below is a selection of pages from Parts of the Human Body.