by: Julia Luckenbill


Does your infant or toddler enthusiastically point out images of herself on your computer?  Does your preschooler ask you repeat stories about him over and over? A powerful way to interest young children in reading books is to make books about their routines, families, life events and vacations.  It’s a keepsake for you and a conversation starter for your child.  It’s also an inexpensive way to help your child learn to love books.


Here are some tips for homemade book making:


1. Include photos of familiar people and objects to connect the book’s contents with real life.  Take pictures of family members, your child’s favorite toys, and other familiar things to help your children talk and learn more about their world.


2. Keep it simple and short.  A few photos on white pages with simple text make the book easy for a young child to follow.  Clip art, stickers and scrapbooking decoration can be distracting.  Keep the page content minimal.


3. Very young children find it hard to turn thin paper pages.  You can buy thicker card stock at most stationary stores and glue your own images over cardboard pages.  Using lamination or plastic page protectors are other ways to make pages thicker.


4. Preschoolers may enjoy co-authoring books with you.  They can draw pictures and dictate text.  You can ask questions to encourage them to add more ideas and you can write down what they say.  Writing together helps children feel their stories are worthwhile and coaches them to think about the components of storytelling such as the concept of beginning, middle and end.  You are also showing them that written words have meaning to people.


5. Children enjoy being able to predict what’s next.  Repetition and rhyme help children with this skill.  You can even make your book similar to your child’s favorite book.  For example, if Thomas loves Brown Bear you could write, “Thomas, Thomas, what do you see?”


6. Choose your topic based on your child’s needs and interests.  If you are moving, make a book about moving.  If your child is anxious about the daily routine make a book about that.  If your child loves trains, make a book about your visit to the train station.


7. Read your book with your child.  Ask open-ended questions about the people, places and stories on the pages.


8. Be playful.  Show your child that books and learning are fun!