Write a Book with Your Child

Guest blog by Sue Fliess, author of Shoes For Me.

The idea of writing a book – a whole entire book! – can be (and usually is) overwhelming – no matter what your age.  But if you do it as a team, it can take the scariness out of it – and actually be really fun.

Whether you have a writer or a reader, this is a fun exercise to spark your child’s creativity. All you need is a pencil, some crayons, paper, a straw, a hole-puncher, some string and imagination.

First, take the pressure off! Let your child know that a story is only as long as it needs to be. So if your child can tell his story in 5 or 6 sentences, great! It doesn’t have to be a novel.

Have an artist in the house? Some books have no words at all or very few. (check out David Wiesner’s Flotsam or Mama by Jeanette Winter). Your little Van Gogh can tell his story with pictures instead.

Once you determine what kind of story your child is creating (words plus pictures, words only, pictures only, comic-book style), . . .

figure out the story’s beginning, middle and end.

write a book with your child

To make your own book first fold a few pieces of 8 ½” x 11” paper in half and punch two holes through them – one at the top, one at the bottom (near the fold but not too close).

Second, lace a piece of string through a drinking straw (you may have to cut the straw to fit the page), then through the holes, and finally tie the string together at the back of the book.

Now, it’s time to write the story. Work with your child to go through the following steps:

  1. Choose a main character (person, animal, thing)
  2. Give the character a name and list at least three details about that character
  3. Choose your character’s favorite activity
  4. Choose something your character fears
  5. Put your character in a situation where he’s about to do his favorite activity and something stops him. Have him face his biggest fear. How does he get out of it? (in doing so, your child and you will learn things about your character you didn’t know in the beginning)
  6. Before your child starts writing, help him choose which parts of the story should get an illustration, so you can plan for that as he writes. When he gets to the point where he inserts illustrations, encourage him or her to use lots of color. Help him decide what can be in the picture, but try to let him draw it himself.
  7. As your child writes, encourage him/her to choose exciting verbs, i.e. skip vs. walk, or bounded vs. went.

Example:

Norman loved being a bunny. He loved his soft brown fur and how the wind felt when it blew under his floppy ears. He loved living in a cozy hole under the Harrison’s oak tree. But even more than that, he loved eating lettuce and drinking from the stream, just a short distance from his burrow. But Norman wasn’t a very fast bunny. In fact, he was terribly slow. One day, as he loafed to the stream, he spotted Zeus, the Harrison’s outdoor cat, crouched in front of the water, flicking his tail back and forth, waiting. Waiting for Norman.

Once the story is written, help your child come up with a title. Once the words and pictures are finished, be sure to design a cover with the title of the story, a picture (if wanted) and your child’s name.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this – just have fun with it! The whole point is to foster a love of reading and writing in your child, give him another way to use his imagination, and give you a chance for quality time together.

Bio: Sue Fliess is the author of children’s book, Shoes For Me, and numerous articles on many subjects.

MORE WRITING IDEAS:
Harry Potter Fanfiction
Simple DIY Journals
Hidden Message Poetry
Art Journal Personal Expression Ideas

  • http://gingersnapalley.com Mariah M

    Great idea! My 8 yr old and I just thougth of doing this night before last. Right now he’s brainstorming about what type of story he’s going to write and he’s deemed me his official illustrator lol.

  • http://libraryofcleanreads.blogspot.com Laura Fabiani

    I’ll keep this activity in mind for the summer months. Thanks!

  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    What fun. My youngest used to make a book by using stickers or pages pulled from a coloring book to help with the illustrations. Then he’d dictate the story to an older sibling or me and we’d write it down. We still read these books today and I really enjoy freezing this moment in time when he uses incorrect grammar like “The Power Rangers was really surprised!”

    Such fun! Thanks for such a great suggestion. We haven’t made books in years so I will have to get to it!

  • Robin

    We started doing this with my son at the age of 4. He is now 22, a Creative Writing minor in college, and graduating next week! He published a book last year with his short stories, poetry, and original artwork. Of course we’ve kept the books we put together over the years. I would love to work on a book again with him since he is all grown up.

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