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  • Kim Bogren Owen

Handmade Books: Lifelong Treasures

Just like Christmas, books do not need to come from a store. They can come from your life and your passions, and they do not need to be for anyone but you (and your child). In fact, handmade books and storytelling are some of the best ways to promote language development and get your child passionate about reading. What child doesn't love to see pictures of themselves? Here are a few examples of books, I have made with kids over the years.

When my daughter was an infant, I often made homemade books for her. These ranged from books about places we visited (like the zoo) to books about concepts. These personalized books became some of her favorites. Unfortunately, most of the ones I made for her are buried deep in her baby box in the attic, but I do have several others I made for other children and my son.

Start simple! Take pictures of your child in different types and colors of clothing. Add words describing what they are wearing, and you have a book. You can either print up the pictures and glue them onto paper that you tie up with string (as I used to do before we had computers) or you can do it on the computer.

To create concept books, take images from magazines and cut them out (if your child is 2ish or older they can help) and glue them to paper. Again, you can either tie them up with string, or you can staple them. Just tape over the staples to keep them from being too sharp if you are making the book for an infant or toddler. To help protect the books from young children who need to mouth things you can laminate them or cover them with clear contact paper. Here is a page from an alphabet book, I started when my daughter was small.

Here are some images from an experiment my son and I did with rock painting. We explored the different lines various sizes of rocks created with paint. To make each painting we put paper in a clean jar (like one for peanut butter) with a drop of paint and a rock. He rolled and shook the jar. We then took out the painting to see what happened. This would be a great follow-up activity after reading Art Parts.

You can tell the story of something your child did or somewhere you went with a homemade book. These are similar to scrapbooks but simpler and shorter. Here are a few images from one my son's preschool made of him making eyes with blocks. He did it first, and then his teacher asked him if he wanted to recreate the steps so they could make a book. He did. Here is the result!

Another excellent (and easy) way to start making books is to take a favorite story and put your own twists on it. Here is an example of a few pages from a homemade version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What To You See by Eric Carle. This book features children in a preschool class that I taught in the early 90s. It is not fancy, all homemade includes errors, but despite that all the children loved it and read it again and again!

These are just a few examples of handmade books. Keep an eye for more examples on Words Reflected's Twitter and Facebook pages. I hope to see your examples as well!

My son was not very interested in most books that he could read in Kindergarten, so we made our own. Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog with those, and other ideas for creating books based on story's children tell. Keep up with the blog by subscribing!

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