Kivi Friedman can’t read yet, but at nearly 2 years old, he’s working on it. His mom, Shoshana, says Kivi’s interest in reading started shortly after his first birthday, when she and Kivi looked at the family photo albums together. “At first, he pointed to the pictures and wanted me to name the people,” she says. “Now he likes to name the people and the objects himself.”
From there, it seemed like a natural step for Friedman to create Kivi’s First Book. She glued pictures of Kivi to construction paper and typed some captions. To make the book toddler-proof, she had FedEx Kinko’s laminate and spiral bind the pages. Total cost: less than $10.
Personalized, homemade books are easy and inexpensive to make, require no special artistic or literary talent and can plant the seed that will grow into a lifelong love for reading.
“Children love to read about themselves. It gives them an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences, and shows that they are important and valuable,” says Lakey Silber, director of Cheder Lubavitch Preschool in Skokie.
The process of creating the book is educational in itself, Silber says. “When children choose and arrange the pictures, they learn to put the events in sequence. Writing the text provides lots of language enrichment, from sounding out the letters to creative writing, and everything in between.”
Choose whatever subject and format; the only limits are your imagination. For babies and toddlers, simple, easily recognizable pictures with short, simple text are best. Pictures of family members or friends, favorite toys and familiar objects are good choices.
“Reading” this book with an adult helps build a child’s vocabulary, as children first learn to name objects and, with repetition, eventually begin to recognize letters and words. The lamination helps with durability or you can cover the pages with clear contact paper.
Older children, beginning at age 4 or 5, can help select the pictures and write the text. Or, if your child likes to make up stories, have him or her dictate while you write. Keep it to just a few lines per page so there’s plenty of room for the child to draw the “illustrations” later. Other books might document a special occasion, such as a family vacation or a birthday party. Books for this age group don’t need to be laminated and can be stapled or laced together with yarn or string.
For more ideas on getting started, look for books on “bookbinding,” such as Book-write, by Michelle O’Brien Palmer, in the public library.