I know I’ve talked about this forever, and here it comes again!!!! Why am I writing about personal books again? Because it is so incredibly important to an emerging reader.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-7-35-44-pmThere is nothing, repeat, nothing more motivating and guaranteed to inspire success than a personal book in the hands of an emergent reader. No matter what the age. 

Have you ever tried to teach something to your child that he just doesn’t want to learn? Moved heaven and earth to try to get him just to focus on the task/book/whatever? Gotcha! Of course you have. This is one of our main challenges: getting engagement. Buy in. Cooperation.

I have seen this motivating tool work over and over and over again. So let’s keep it simple. Because if we don’t keep it simple, “you ain’t gonna do it” because your available time for things like this hovers just above zero.


So let’s get to the bare bones.

  1. Pick the topic nearest and dearest to that particular would-be reader. (Depending on age, some examples: Mommy; Sponge Bob; Pizza; Wrestling, etc.)
  2. Write simple sentences, one short sentence to a page. No pictures. Large type.
  3. After the next page turn, repeat that sentence but add a picture relating to it.
  4. Continue for as many pages as you think your reader can handle.
  5. Use any shortcut software, as PowerPoint in Microsoft Office. Makes this a piece of cake.
  6. Print.
  7. Create large flash cards for all the words.
  8. Teach Sandwich Style: Fast Flash the cards; read the book together; Fast Flash the cards. (That’s the sandwich.)

You’re done! You’ve created a “book” that will be treasured and loved to shreds. Most of all, this kind of creation is highly motivating, enormously meaningful to the reader, enables quick reading success, and…here comes the drum roll…teaches the child that the only reason for learning to read is to read for meaningPeriod. He will not necessarily be taught that in school, so let’s make sure he learns the purpose of his effort at home.

For those of you who want ‘way more help in making your own personal books, follow these blog links for the specifics:

Personal books, the mega-motivator

How to use personal books

Personal book example: Frozen

Did I mention that in the bad old days when there were no books available to parents like the ones I now have on my site, I taught my then-5-year old son (31, Down syndrome) to read only with personal books and knowledge of letter sounds? Each book was a little more advanced than the last one, and all were about the things he loved at that age…his drums, trains, family, his school trip to the zoo, how he loved to read in bed, our Summer trips, etc. By age 8, he was an independent reader.

It simply works.

Try it! And I love to get videos of our kids reading their personal books…you can post them on my FB page, “Down Syndrome Reading with Natalie Hale.” See you there!

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