Friday, November 19, 2010

Creating a book with a child - tips to ensure the process is fun and creative for you both!

Lots of people have asked me about the best way to approach creating a book with a child. They tell me they imagine it is a great way to spend quality time together. It absolutely is a great way to spend quality time together, no doubt about that, but from my own experience it can also end up in tears of frustration if you take the wrong approach. So this post is about how to ensure the process of creating a book with a child is fun and creative for you both.

  • The time to start creating your book together is when you have time. A rainy day or a sick day are perfect. But the basic rule is any time where you don't need to be somewhere else or being doing something else soon will work well.

The week leading up to Halloween my 5 year old wanted to do lots of crafty Halloween projects.
On one of the days she was home ill. She was too ill to go to kinder but well enough to get creative and crafty and so we decided to use the quite time we had together to create a book.

  • Follow your child's inspiration and allow your child to choose the theme of the book.

My daughter was really excited about Halloween and was already aksing me to make 'Halloween' things with her so a Halloween themed book was a natural choice.

  • Don't push it! If you are in the mood for creating a book with your child but no matter how attractive you make the activity seem they are just not interested then just let it go and present the idea another day instead.
I have noticed that many children go through phases where they are inspired by particular things. My children have been through phases where all they want to do is play mummies and daddies, phases where all they want to do are puzzles, or bake cakes, or play with cars, or draw, or make cubby houses etc... So my advice is to let your child follow their passion and if their passion at the time does not include creating a book (not even a book about their current passion) then let it be. Trying to force things usually results in tears of frustration (at least at our house).

  • Keep your book ambitions age appropriate. Choose an illustrating method (i.e painting or cutting and pasting) that your child already enjoys and has expressed an interest in and then gently encourage them to develop their skills a little further. Doing this will ensure they don't lose interest half way through the creative process and will feel great satisfaction when the book is finished.
  • It is also important to keep the books length age appropriate. For example a four year old may quite possibly be totally content with a book that is only2- 3 pages long. A nine year old will probably create a book considerably longer than 2 pages and enjoy challenging 'new' illustration techniques.

When looking for illustration ideas for our Halloween book I visited a few crafty 'for kids' blogs. Many of the crafty ideas were great but too complex for my 5 year old. I knew if I chose something too complex she would just get frustrated and lose interest. So I chose an illustrating technique that although a bit of a challenge was still something she was able to learn and master.

  • Take a back seat. Let your child dictate the text and decide on the overall look and design of the book. You may find yourself inspired and full of ideas for the book but make sure you don't simply take over.

This is possibly the most difficult tip to follow. I know when I start on a book with one of my kids I find it very easy to get carried away with my own ideas. The problem is that if I don't keep myself in check my child realizes the project is more about me than her and she simply gets frustrated and loses interest. So if you do find yourself flowing with new creative ideas, by all means gently make suggestions to your child allow her own ideas to take centre stage. (You can make use of all your new ideas by creating your own book once the kids have gone to bed.)

  • Lead by example. Create your own books for your kids and share your work with them. Your kids are sure to get inspired and want to create a book too.

My children have seen me create many books for them and I am pretty sure that is why my daughter is so keen on creating her own books (with or without me).

Please let me know how you get on creating a book with a child and feel free to share your work and any of your own tips. Just send me an email at

If you would like to take a look at the Halloween book I refer to in this article simply scroll down and take a look at the blog post below.