PERSONAL READING BOOKS, THE MEGA-MOTIVATOR!
Fortunately, the word is spreading, and there is more and more talk in DS circles about creating personal books to teach reading. Personal books are frequently the initial exposure a child has to beginning the reading process.
So What Is It?
A personal book is a simple, homemade “book” built around a child’s top interest or “hot topic.” Once the book is made, flash cards are made to teach the book’s vocabulary, and you’re off and running. The book is made with ordinary paper stock, and–unless your hand printing is stellar–typed on computer. Typically, a digital camera or iPhone is used to make accompanying pictures.
Why Homemade Personal Books?
Because nothing–and I mean nothing–motivates a would-be reader like reading about his/her own life. Especially with our kids with DS, we want to get those strong little wills on board at the get-go. If a child is eager to read because he loves what he’s reading about, all of his learning systems get a thumbs-up: his energy and attention are engaged.
So What Are The Guidelines?
- Turn the paper “landscape” format so you’ve got more room for sentences.
- Use large type (at least 48 pt.) in a sans serif font like: Arial, Tahoma, Verdana (all computers have these).
- Don’t use bold type; that makes it harder to read.
- Double space between words; that makes it easier to read.
- Make the pictures large and close-up on your subject, no matter what it is.
- All left-hand pages are blank; you want a high-focus format in the beginning, so use only right-hand pages.
- Later, when the reader is more experienced and confident, you can use left-hand pages as well; but in the beginning, we don’t want to distract the reader.
- The sentence is introduced before the child sees the picture; there are no distractions, and using this system makes it easy to know when the child is or is not actually reading the words.
No matter how often I explain how to build an awesome personal book that doubles as a testing tool, it’s not clear until I show a picture. So here are your downloadable samples: a “how to” page, along with work pages on which you can pencil in your creative-work-in-progress: Storyboard Sample and Your Storyboard Work Page
- Make an “A List” of three topics (things/people/foods/activities/pets/relatives) your child loves.
- Choose one of these topics for your first book.
- Write a simple story, one short sentence to a page (3-4 words in a sentence for an emergent reader).
- Use www.mrsperkins.com to download the Dolch Word List appropriate for your child; use these words as much as possible along with the “hot topic” words. Keep the list at your elbow!
Creating The Book: Here’s A Sample Emergent Reader Book
- Title: Grandma
- Page 1 (right hand page only): I love Grandma. (remember to double-space between words)
- Page 2 (r.h.p. only): large pic of Grandma and child; under the pic, type the same sentence as on the previous page: I love Grandma.
- Page 3: (r.h.p.o.) Grandma loves me.
- Page 4: (r.h.p.o.) another large pic of Grandma and child; under the pic, repeat: Grandma loves me.
- Page 5: (r.h.p.o.) We snuggle.
- Page 6: (r.h.p.o.) pic of Grandma and child snuggling; under the pic, repeat: We snuggle.
- Page 7: (r.h.p.o.) We read.
- Page 8: (r.h.p.o.) pic of Grandma and child reading; under the pic, repeat: We read.
- etc., etc. Continue along this line for another few pages and then wrap it up.
- Last page, right side: The End. (They love reading this. It’s the emotional equivalent of “I did it!”)
Make The Flash Cards
- Create large flash cards (5×8) if your child is an emergent reader; the more experience the child has in reading, the smaller you can make the cards and the type.
- Teach the cards using the one-per-second Fast Flash Method.
- Use the “Sandwich Teaching Method“: Flash the Cards/Read the Book/Flash the Cards. All done!
Make More Books!
- Using this basic model, move on to creating more complex books, always building on previous vocabulary.
The track record of reading success sparked by Personal Books is growing legendary as this practice spreads; I hope your your own spark ignites a reading blaze for your child. This could be the start of great things!
There are apps out now which can help you to create personal books, for those who are device-inclined. If you know of a terrific app that you’re absolutely sold on, post a comment and I’ll share it with everyone!