My four-year-old grandson Jaxson recently dropped by the Pioneer Valley Books office with Ducky, a well-loved stuffed animal he’s had since he was an infant. We took the opportunity to make a book together, which we titled Where is Ducky? To make the book’s artwork, Jaxson chose some locations in the office and one place where he hid Ducky. Then I made some talking bubbles with the word No! that I taped to the pages. The entire project took about 10 minutes, and you can watch him proudly read the book with me here:
Writing books with your beginner readers can be a powerful learning tool. Personalized tales provide meaningful texts that students want to read. You can foster key strategies that beginning readers need through the creation of books. This experience helped Jaxson develop one-to-one matching, learn a core of sight words, and figure out how to use pictures to make sense of the story. Jaxson didn’t do any writing, but I would encourage slightly older children to write some parts they can easily do and leave the remainder for a teacher or parent.
Interested in writing books with your students? Here are some ideas to try:
1. Take a picture of your student on different things in the school building and on the playground. Then write the story together with I as the subject (for example, I am on the chair. I am on the slide.). Alternately, use the student’s name (Jaxson is on the chair. Jaxson is on the slide.).
2. Have your student hide and take a photo of their location. Then take pictures of places where your student is not hiding. Write the book’s first pages to show photos where your student is missing (Is Jaxson under the chair? No.) and then use the last page to reveal where they are hiding.
3. Take photos of your student doing things, such as jumping, running, and skipping, then write text to match (I am running. or Jaxson is running.).
4. Take pictures of your student inside places (for example, the closet, library, and cafeteria). Work with your student to write pages together, such as Look at me. I am in the library.
As you ponder what to write, try to find a pattern that uses common sight words you want students to learn (such as am, is, go, the, here, look, and can).
Of course, you can find tons of easy patterned books at level A. But there is something really powerful about reading a book you have created yourself. Keep it simple and it can be a wonderful motivational learning experience for your students. These books can even be shared with other students. Keep them in a tub in your classroom and I bet you’ll find that everyone will love reading different books about their classmates!