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Homemade Books

Why Make Homemade Books?

When I was in teacher credentialing school I was taught that one of the best ways to help emergent readers  was to work one-on-one with a child creating books together.  Back in the classroom, I discovered that being able to work one-on-one with a child is a teacher’s dream (or fantasy).  Still, I found ways to make it happen with my neediest readers, and used this activity in Kindergarten all the way to third grade.

Usually, I’d make homemade books with a child during my Reader’s Workshop hour, where the other children were in small groups with parent volunteers or busy doing “Working with Words” games in spelling and phonics.  The point is, making homemade books with a child is a powerful tool to helping them learn to read.  When children feel ownership of a book, and invested in it’s creation, they are more interested in paying attention and figuring out what those words say!


In the classroom, I would make homemade books by stapling copy paper together. This is how I made books with Bruce when he was little.  But I’ve found that three, four years later, those books are all destroyed.  It’s too bad, because I would have liked to use them with Jenna.  Then, when I started this blog and tried printing out one of the first books I posted (Duck, Duck, Goose), I saw that the pictures were really little. So I tried making a little book using the sides of brown paper grocery bags and masking tape.  It turns out that these little books are durable and perfect for small hands.  You however, can make books however you want!

18months to 36 months

At the younger end of the spectrum, or for a child who is not yet sounding out CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words, you want to make books that are patterned, predictable, and full of picture clues.  Generally the pattern should go something like this: Title/Pattern sentence #1/ Pattern sentence #2/ Pattern sentence #3/ Pattern sentence #4/ Pattern sentence #5/ Different last sentence/.  Good homemade books should also include picture clues, which is teacher speak for when the illustrations tells the child what the words say.

Here are two examples of predictable pattern books I have made for Jenna:

Jenna’s Doggie Book

Jenna’s Summer Book

36 months to 4 ish

Once a child is able to sound out CVC words, then you want to start phasing out the patterned sentences and picture cues, and start writing text that will required your child to use his or her new found phonics skills.  Don’t abandon the picture cues altogether; the key idea is to use scaffolding.  Start out easy and work to something more difficult.  It’s like you are going to be writing your own version of Bob Books.  If your child likes drawing, you can have your son or daughter be in charge of the illustrations.

Here is an example of a CVC book I have made for Jenna:

-op book

4 ish onwards to Independent Readers

Older children take an even more prominent role in making homemade books.  At this age, you are the secretary and your child is the author and illustrator.  Your son tells you what to write, so that the story is his own idea.  Even still, you may need to fudge it a little.  Make sure you are writing sentences that your child will be able to read 95% himself.  This is a great activity for the summer between Kindergarten and first grade.

Another idea is to make Homemade books that recap vacations or special days. Here are some examples of what that looks like:

Jenna’s North Cascades National Park Book

Jenna’s Summer Book

Final Thoughts

Each time you make a homemade book with your child it should be cause for a mini celebration.  You are so excited, your child is so excited, your husband is so excited, the dog is so excited… You get the idea!  You could even call grandma or grandpa on the phone to tell them.  The other part of this is, that you want your child to read the new book to each and every family member as part of the celebration.  “Wow!  Look!  Jenna has a new book.  Can you read it to Bruce?”  etc.

You could print out the books that I make with Jenna at home if you want to.  I encourage you to do so because they are easy readers and good practice.  However, books that you make yourself will be 100% more meaningful to your child, and therefore more engaging.  That’s the whole point!  You want your child to be super excited about reading his or her very own creation.

Be sure to collect your homemade books in a special box so that it will be available during Independent Reading time.  Older children could even decorate the box.  Keep it next to a special chair or cozy corner for reading.  At 23 months, Jenna does Independent Reading time about 5 minutes a day.  Older children should be able to do more, especially with their very own homemade books.

More examples of homemade books:  https://teachingmybabytoread.com/category/homemade-books-2/

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  1. Jeanette says:

    Wow! I am so glad I stumbled upon this website! We’ve been casually working on letters & sounds with our 2 year old and he’s known all of them for a while now, but it seems like he’s in that period “in between” knowing all of this letters & sounds and CVC words. I’ve started to look into what else we can do (other than just reading & reviewing letters & trying to show him how to blend sounds into a CVC word) and happened upon your site. You have some great ideas here that I can’t wait to try out especially since we plan to “afterschool” our kids too. I’ve noticed that some of the links aren’t working (like the ones in this post to the pics)… I’m assuming that since these are older posts that the webpages that they link to no longer work but I’d love to see what these look like. Any chance I could get a working link to these? (I know you’re busy so if not, no worries!)

    • Hi Jeanette, Welcome! Yes, I still have a lot of links to fix. I if you come across a post you want to see and it isn’t working, go up to the address and delete .blog from it. I originally started Teaching My Baby to Read on blog.com, but server had major issues. Now all of the posts are still there, but on WordPress, with no “.blog” in the address.

      Although come to think of it, some of the Homemade Book links might be permanently gone. I removed the ones that showed my children’s faces.

      I keep meaning to post some of our new Homemade books soon…

  2. Jeanette says:

    Thanks!! I should’ve caught onto the “blog.” part, but I’m going to blame sleep deprivation (our 5 month old has recently decided that it’d be neat to wake up every hour or two during the night :P). Anyhow, got it now. Thanks so much 🙂 I’m sure you’ll see more comments from me!

  3. This is so great, I feel like I should’ve been doing this earlier 😦 she’s 3 now :/

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