Written by Bethany Todd, in Collaboration with Laura Barr
This summer, I’m working on creating some DIY personalized books for my kids. I did this once before for my daughter when we were moving from Virginia to Denver. I realized then, the power of personalized books. For the record, I’m not talking about the new store-bought “personalized books” in which companies put your child’s name into the story (they’re adorable by the way). While the DIY personalized books I’m describing do feature your child or known friends and family as characters, they also have a storyline that you create; they have a purpose beyond reading for pleasure.
When I made a book for my daughter 3 years ago, I titled it Moving to Denver. The purpose of the book was to help her transition through our move by preparing her for things she was going to see in the near future such as moving trucks, the Denver Zoo, tears from grandma and a smile when making new friends. I illustrated the sad emotions we would feel when saying goodbye to people and places we loved, and happy and excited faces for the things we would discover at our new home, such as new friends, the mountains, and the science museum. My daughter was so excited and proud when she saw things from her book, in real life. We had countless moments where she would pull on my pant leg saying, “look mom, that’s from my book!”.
What I learned is that DIY books are powerful and effective. If you are planning for a transition, or you expect that your child will be coping with strong feelings, be proactive to help them by creating DIY personalized books. Use them as teachable moments.
Personalized Books increase
Ideas for DIY Personalized Books
Moving, Changing Schools and Big Transitions
If your child is preparing for a big transition, help them by creating a personalized book in which they are the main character and the settings and objects in the books are things they will see and hear in the near future.
Family Photo Albums
Children love seeing pictures of themselves growing and learning. Photo albums allow us opportunities to show children how much they have learned and how much they will continue to learn. We can use them to say things like, “Remember when you couldn’t swim and your practiced, and now you can swim!” Making these personal connections help children to identify previous emotions they have felt before and use them to empower themselves to conquer new things. Photo books also provide a sense of security and belonging which can be crucial when children do feel like they belong in other places such as school.
Children with low self-esteem can feel empowered with pictures of them doing mighty things. Imagine a child that wants to cross the monkey bars. Create a book about monkey bars, monkeys, and the child attempting the first bar. Consider illustrating yourself attempting the monkey bars and falling. How did you feel? What did you do when you fell?
Emergent Reader Books
Use pictures of your child to help them learn how to read. Early reader books can be daunting and sometimes boring. Children will be highly motivated to read a book about themselves.
Homemade books of your child at different stages of their lives are excellent memory keepers. The Moving to Denver book has been read so many times, it’s torn and tattered, but I can’t bear to part with it. 3 years later, and the book is more precious to me than it is to my daughter.
Social Emotional Learning
When children are struggling to identify, express, or find the words to express their emotions, parents can give them examples. Use a homemade book to share your different emotions, how you felt, how your expressed them, and what happened after you expressed them.
Pinterest to the Rescue
Kids help make emergent readers books
Keep it simple and quick with paper bag books
and much more…