May 4, 2013

My Daddy: a Handmade Book for Emergent Readers

My Daddy: a Handmade Book for Emergent Readers 

Calvin's favorite book is about his Daddy. The cool thing is I made it.  All I needed were photos of Calvin and Daddy, card stock, and clear contact paper. It's a book anyone can make. Read on for instructions.


  • To prepare for my bookmaking session, I did the following:
               * I took eight photos of Calvin and his Daddy.
               * I downloaded the photos to my computer.
               * I used a photo editing program to crop all eight of them to 4.5" x 5".
               * I ran a copy of each on my printer. 
               * I used regular copy paper from Staples, and 
               * I printed them using the 'plain paper best' setting of my printer. 
               * I trimmed each photo.

  • Once the photos were made, I cut two pieces of card stock 11" X 5", and folded each down the middle. When I placed one card stock piece on top of the other, I had a little book with eight  pages (front and back), each measuring 5.5" x 5".

  • I glued my eight photos, centered, one on each page. 

  • Then it was back to the computer to write the text.  I used 24 pt. font, and printed the following words based on what I saw in each photo.

Title:   My Daddy
Page 1:  I love my Daddy.
Page 2:  Daddy keeps me safe.
Page 3:  Daddy lifts me high.
Page 4:  Daddy carries me.
Page 5:  My Daddy loves me.
Page 6:  Daddy and I take naps.
Page 7:  My Daddy has friends.

  • Next, I trimmed around the text and glued it on the bottom of each page.

  • Now it was time to cover the two 11" x 5" pieces of card stock, front and back, with clear contact paper and trim around the edges.

  • I punched three holes along the fold of each piece of card stock.  The top, middle, and bottom holes were placed (from the top) at 1 inch, 2.5 inch, and 4 inch respectively.  That put the holes 1 inch from the top and 1inch from the bottom.

  • I threaded three strands of embroidery floss through a wide-eyed needle, lined up the holes, and sewed the two 11" x 5" pieces of card stock together.  I wish I could tell you how I did it, but I can't.  I just kept sewing in and out of the holes until I ended up in the middle hole.  Then, before I could blink my eyes, I knotted the thread, and the book was done. 

  • The next time Calvin came over for visit, I had the book setting on his art table.  He saw it straight away and immediately started looking at it.  "Dad-deee, Dad-deee," he said over and over.

  • It's been six months since I introduced the book to Calvin, and it still brings a smile to his face.  He pours over the photos, page after page, studying each with a look of love on his face.

  • I have read the book over and over many times to two year old Calvin.  I'm looking forward to the day he will read it to me.  In the meantime, he is learning many things that will help him learn to read.

  1. Books open from the right.
  2. Books are read with the pictures upright.
  3. Words have meaning and are used to tell stories.
  4. Text is read from left to right. (Model this by placing your index finger under each word as it is read.)
  5. Each time the book is read, the words are the same.
  6. All the pictures tell something about the title.
  7. The last page ends the story.
  8. A new book is about a new story.

Stay tuned for the sequel: I Love Mommy. 

Extend the Activity:

Is reading to preschoolers really important? 

Now, that's a good question.

As adult readers, the facts (listed 1-8 above) are self-evident, but to an emergent reader, everything is new.  

Early exposure to reading is extremely important to a child's success in school. Many years ago, when I taught first grade, I had a student named Chris.  Two weeks into the school year, Chris made the following statement about reading:  "You mean, you want me to remember all this stuff?"  

Chris, who had very little exposure to books as a preschooler, found reading to be overwhelming.  He was plenty smart enough, but he had none of the pre-reading skills he needed to succeed in school.  At the end of the year, despite his efforts and mine, Chris's reading skills had not progressed very far. He ended up repeating first grade.

Yes, ... I believe reading to preschoolers is important, and children are more motivated to read books they can relate to. Is there a more relatable subject than Daddy or Mommy?  Not for a preschooler. 

  • Interactive Technology Literacy Curriculum (ITLC) has a great blog with a post entitled Emergent Reader.  It has facts about promoting reading in young children.

  • Be the Reason They Smile is a blog that has a post entitled Emergent Readers with many suggestions for activities.

Do you have a comment or a suggestion?  I'd love to hear from you.

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