Confession: I have not always enjoyed reading, but I have always enjoyed writing. I've been writing stories, poems, and drawing since I can remember. While I was an early reader, it wasn't something I wanted to do on my own with my free time. I wanted to be outside playing, making up my own stories in my head. It wasn't until high school literature class that I actually found THE book that made me a reader: Sophie's Choice. And it wasn't until 2019 that I reinvigorated that love of reading by listening to Harry Potter books on Audible. That relit two things: A love of reading and a love of writing. From there, COVID gave me the extra time I needed to make something happen. Now that life is sort of returning back to normal, I have less time. Things are slowing down a bit on my writing.
Cheap and easy.
But all this got me to thinking a few months ago... maybe my kids would also benefit from writing. So we started small, and I do mean small. Like cheap, easy. I like cheap and easy. It sounds terrible, but it's easy... and cheap. You get me? I literally took some printer paper and folded it in half, then stapled it along the fold. Yes, you too can win at life by going the cheap and easy route! And those books will be so precious. And numerous. My kids have several they are still working on from time to time and many others they've completed.
It gets your child to do many things:
2) Tell a story,
3) Use their creativity and imagination,
4) Use their fine motor skills,
5) Use both sides of their brain to write and illustrate their story,
6) Give their language skills a boost.
After trying their hand at writing, you may also see that they start pointing out structure and other things they observe when they read books.
My youngest cannot write or read yet, but he can tell me a story in one of two ways:
1) He tells me and I write it down so he can illustrate it, or
2) He illustrates it and then verbally tells me about his illustrations and the story in his book.
Flagrant foul? Yep. Shameless plug. Absolutely. I did just seriously use a picture of MY book above. It's what I used to give the illustrator the same vision I had in my head for The Toot Fairy. Yes, this is an abuse of power to show you illustrations to my book (that you should totally purchase). But my illustrations were cute, right? Almost as cute as some of the books my kids have made.
But let's just say you're feeling a little extra today. I got you! Grab some of your construction paper and all that scrapbook paper you are NEVER going to use. Seriously. You will never use it. Give it to your kids. They will think they won the paper lottery. In fact, haul in all the craft supplies you can think of and just let them dream up a beautiful story. Who cares if their cover is 3D with pom poms on it. But hear this, you and only you can prevent awful burns with the hot glue gun (and get some silicone finger covers on Amazon--trust me, those are amazing!)
But if you want to keep the book 2D, offer construction paper for the cover, white paper for the interior. Grab a laminator to laminate the cover (I got one for $13 at Walmart, and we've used it a lot!) You can even use contact paper if you wish (I only know this because Pinterest says so and someone long ago let my brother make one that was super cool).) You can fold and staple or hole punch and tie this baby together. And your child will feel absolutely amazing, like they just conquered the world by writing their very first book. Trust me. It's worth all the scrapbook paper. All. of. it.
This one is a real keeper.
You might remember from a previous blog post, I mentioned Illustory. I loved the very idea that my child could create a book and then have a professional, bound, hardcover book delivered in a matter of a few weeks. So, I got one for each of my children for Christmas. My 8yo daughter wanted to immediately begin the writing process, but we had other Christmases to attend. But by the early part of January, she had completed her book. We just got it back this week. That was a long wait, but it was worth it! My 5yo son created a few weeks after my daughter, so his is still being created.
Needless to say, this is my new favorite gift to give. It's affordable, and it comes with literally everything your child needs (though I strongly recommend including a picture of your child, which is optional. They put this picture on the back cover with the 'About the Author' info. It's adorable). Your child creates it. You mail it in a postage paid envelope. You wait a few weeks, and then you both get to experience the magic! I wish you could have seen my daughter's eyes LIGHT UP when she saw her very own professionally bound book arrive. It was magic! It was like Disney World in our house for a while, as she showed off her new and beautiful book.
The above product is called Illustory, but Lulu Jr also offers My Comic Book for budding comic book writers. You can order Illustory and My Comic Book on Lulujr.com or on Amazon.com.
Happy reading (and writing!)
Keep up with my adventures here. I'll be posting updates and fun projects for kids to do that relate to a recent children's book release. Sign up for emails on my Home page to get all the latest updates emailed to you, so you always know when new projects or updates are posted.