handmade books for literacy development – and fun

My four-year-old started making books in early February. He’s used up all the scratch paper in the house and prompted us to sort through miscellaneous stacks of paper in search of more book-making supplies. Today we got a free ream of paper (a rebate item, actually) from Staples. On the way home, he started planning the next three books he’s going to make. At the top of the list was one about bull bison. “I don’t think I can use all the paper today,” he said. I was hoping those 500 sheets would last at least a year!
He’s got about 15 handmade books, in various stages of completion. Some have colored illustrations. Some have titles and labels of the items he has drawn, added by his dad or mom. One is based on a story he dictated to me and I wrote down, a “language experience approach” book about his little brother climbing the living room chair.
The Language Experience Approach (LEA) was designed to link a learner’s experiences and speaking ability to the written word when the learner has limited writing ability. An activity in the language teacher’s toolbox, it’s also a valuable pre-literacy activity parents can do with their children. Simply ask your child to share an experience or story. Write down exactly what your child says. If you want to create a book, write one sentence per page. Three to five sentences may be enough for a first book. Then ask your child to suggest a title for the story. Read the story back to your child and ask for any corrections or changes.
Encourage your child to illustrate the story or book. When it is complete, read each sentence to your child. You can track the words with your finger to help reinforce sound-symbol correspondence. Ask your child to read each sentence after you. Finally, ask your child to read the whole story to you or another family member.
Save the story. You’ll both enjoy looking back at it someday.

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