September 22, 2011

Making Books with Young Children

The other day my 6 year old was playing with his camera and came to show me the "action shots" he was getting of his playmobil people.  It was pretty cute.  He had set them up and taken pictures of them sword fighting, climbing a mountain, and fighting a dragon.  He told me who were the good guys and the bad guys.  It game me an idea.

The next day we sat down at the computer together and made up a story.  At this age, kids have so many stories in their heads but it's hard for them to write them out by hand.  I love typing up stories my little ones tell me. I have many saved on my computer and the kids like reading them.  Usually I would print them out and let the kids illustrate them by hand, but Joshua and I decided to use his camera this time instead.

After we had written the story, we got out his toys and set up the scenes for each page.  We had a lot of fun working together to make the pictures look just right.  He was in charge of the camera, and we talked about  how best to take the picture, whether it should be from a distance or a close-up.  Sometimes we had to take several to get it just right.  I tried not to be bothered by crooked ones. Then I put the pictures on my computer and added them to his story.  It took me a bit to figure out how to do the pages so that I could print on front and back and fold it and have them be in the right order, but finally got it figured out.  Joshua loves his book and wanted to print lots of copies to share.

There are so many things you can teach your kids while writing a story together.  While I typed up the story with Joshua we talked about the different parts of a story.  We talked about when to use quotation marks, synonyms for when a word was being used too much, capitalization, and ending punctuation.  When he didn't know what should happen next in the story, we would talk about possibilities and he would choose his favorite.  It was a great project to do together and he told me he is already planning a book 2.

This would also be great to do with beginning readers.  Children are more motivated to read a book they've created themselves.  Make a book with words your begining reader can already recognize and some they are working on.  They will love reading out loud to you a book they have created themselves.

Related to this idea, when my daughter was little she had 2 best friends move away.  To help them remember each other, my friends and I made up stories for them to be the stars of, took pictures of our daughters, and made a book for each of them.  My daughter still likes to look at hers and remember her friends, 6 years later.


  1. Very creative idea! My daughter loves making up stories too -- she has a new journal that she designated her "story book."

  2. I've been enjoying this activity doing "photo scenes", where the kids set up their toys in scenes and we photograph them. Sometimes they make a series, or sometimes one photo stands alone. They enjoy making surreal scenes (read: humorous!) based on artists like Dali or Skogland. Anyway, a great activity with no end to the possibilities.

  3. Erin, this is a fabulous way to develop your chil's literacy learning in a context which is relevant and engaging for him. I love the way you didn't let your need for photos to be straight get in the way of his creativity (this is often really hard for adults to do!) I also applaud your ability to give him hints on grammar as part of this learning process so he can see that they have a real purpose. An inspiration for some work I plan to do with my many possibilities.


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