As a writer, one of my favourite things to do with my nearly-three-year-old is to make books. Toddlers love telling stories, and this is a great way to document their words and ideas (and the perfect gift for adoring grandparents).Photo by Skynesher/iStockphoto.com
1. Take out eight sheets of construction paper and fold them in half.
2. Stitch them together along the middle, creating a 32-page book (you can use fewer sheets if you want fewer pages).
3. Grab a packet of stickers and some pens, and let your toddler stick and colour page by page.
4. Ask your child to tell you stories about what’s happening with the images he’s created, and write every word he says on the pages.
Feeling a little more ambitious? Order blank board books from a company like Blank Slate Books. We recently ordered 12 and are hoping to create some lovely board books for my ten-month-old daughter to enjoy at the end of it.
My son's most recent book is called Truck. We’ve been cutting out images from the Driving supplement of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix every Friday. It takes several book-making sessions to finish a book, since toddlers' attention spans only last so long. So far we’re only about halfway through, but we’re enjoying sticking in the cars and SUVs, and I’m enjoying hearing about them. Here’s the text from one page: THE CARS GO TO LUNCH. THEY LIKE MEAT.Photo: Alice Kuipers
Making mistakes is part of being any sort of writer — redrafting and rewriting is par for the course. I’ve just had my third novel published and I had to rewrite that, oh, a thousand times, so a few missteps along the way to perfecting our homemade books is to be expected. Plus, mistakes are fun to make. It doesn't matter if a page gets torn or messed up, or if we end up abandoning a book only to write a different one next week. The joy of writing is to be free and creative on the page, and I hope I’m sharing that joy with my toddler and my baby.Photo by Ik's World Trip/Flickr
My sister was the one who showed me how a child could "write" stories this way when she folded up a couple of sheets of paper and got my son to tell her stories. She’s a community artist who helps people share their own stories in this way — often people who are struggling to write themselves, like refugees or learning-disabled adults. I love how her technique for getting my son to express himself on the page has made him feel like a real story-teller, and I love watching his face as he instructs me on what he wants me to write.Photo by Roy Costello/Flickr
Alice Kuipers' new novel, 40 Things I Want To Tell You, stars Bird, aka Amy Finch, who is sooo very much in control of her life that she runs an website giving other teens advice on how to live. That is, until Amy starts to lose control. Some mistakes, turns out, are too easy to make, and some secrets are way too hard to keep.Photo by Emma Love
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