Children are naturally drawn to picture books. Some enjoy simply looking at photographs or artwork, while others are more interested in cuddling and reading about the pictures. Almost all kids enjoy picture books that revolve around concrete objects in their own life; family, community, and day to day life.
There are several options for creating your own photo book with varying expense and time investments. Many online photo services, such as Shutterfly will allow you to create digital photo books complete with text that can be printed and mailed to your home. The simplest photo books are often just pictures that have been adhered to a piece of paper or scrapbook and labeled with a simple description. These pages may be protected with either sheet protectors or lamination.
Some parents are naturally creative and have no problem piecing together an entertaining story derived from real people, places, and events. For those of us in need of inspiration an easy approach is to look at a book your child already has or borrow one from the library that deals with your area of interest. For example, our daughter has a lovely book about giving thanks. The book says thanks for her family, her pets, her home, her food, and other things that make her happy. We used this theme to create a picture book with photographs of items from her life that she can review and be thankful for during prayer time each night.
Some topics which can make great books for little ones to learn about their world include:
- All About Me: An all about me book, that shows your child at various stages of growth is a fun way to encourage children to start learning their name; first, middle, and last. Characteristics such as eye color and hair color can be highlighted in conjunction with learning the names of various body parts. Their birthday and favorite color, food, and/or toy are also fun to include. This is also a great place to start teaching them information that can keep them safe if they are ever lost such as parent’s names, address, and phone number.
- My Family: Creating a story about the family can be as simple as collecting pictures of family members in a photo album. Including pictures of individual family members with your child can increase the level of interest your child has in learning about the picture. Small tidbits of information about the family member can also be included, such as occupation, location of residence, or hobbies/skills.
- My Neighborhood or Community: Locations within the community that are regularly visited by your child and family such as church, going to the library, parks, and playgrounds are also excellent material for creating a personalized book. Again photographs of the child actively enjoying activities at these different locations can help with memory and enjoyment. Make sure to include the full name for the locations, such as “Adair Park” or “Kroger Grocery Store”, so that years from now the book can serve both as a treasured memento and record keeper for future generations.
It can also be a lot of fun to actively make a personalized photo book with your child. Many toddlers can easily be persuaded to pose for pictures, others may be more interested in staying behind the lens. Our toddler loves being able to actually take pictures under adult guidance and see the instant results on the digital screen. Our toddler has loved creating the following personalized photo books as either a model or picture taker:
- Emotions: Have the kids and other family members making happy, sad, angry, scared, and excited faces.
- Colors: Take pictures of the kids in different shirts with the different colors. For our two year old, hats and hair bows worked well for this topic.
- Animals: Use pictures from a recent trip to the aquarium, farm, or zoo. Don’t forget to include a few photographs of any pets at home.
Home created story books can also be a fabulous way to ease the emotional upheaval that can accompany major life transitions. Moving to a new home, the birth of a sibling, or the death of a family member can all be described through the use of photographs, art, and/or words. Difficulties adjusting to schedule changes such as modifications in a bedtime routines, discontinuing nursing, or potty training can also be eased through the use of personalized picture books. Opening up the discussion of life events through storytelling and discussion often help make topics more approachable for little ones.
Have you created a personalized photo book? How did you create it? What was the topic?