Activities

How to create a book with your toddler

Novelist Alice Kuipers offers tips on creating books with your toddler, and shares why this activity is great for fostering self-expression and development.

By Alice Kuipers

How to create a book with your toddler

How to create a book with your toddler

The perfect craft

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).

How to create a book with your toddlerPhoto by Skynesher/iStockphoto.com

How to make your book

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.

How to create a book with your toddlerPhoto: Alice Kuipers

Get more ambitious

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.

How to create a book with your toddlerPhoto: Alice Kuipers

Enjoy the process

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.

How to create a book with your toddlerPhoto: Alice Kuipers

Make mistakes

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. 

How to create a book with your toddlerPhoto by Ik's World Trip/Flickr

Creating story-tellers

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.

How to create a book with your toddlerPhoto by Roy Costello/Flickr

Resources for making books with your children

Board books
You can make and print these online.

Board books for older children
You can make and print these online as well.

David Ezra Stein
Shows you another way to make books with your child.

How to create a book with your toddler

About Alice Kuipers

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.

How to create a book with your toddlerPhoto by Emma Love

More great crafts

How to create a book with your toddler

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