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Family Therapist
A Personalized Way to make Special Time with your Child
May, 2008 - Issue #43
Sometimes it really is something simple that creates those special moments between you and your child; a crown made out of a diaper, orchestra instruments from a pan and a spoon, hide and seek with a cardboard box...

For my boys, those moments really began when I sat on their beds at night and told fantastic stories featuring both of them as the main characters. As they grew, I alternated fantasy tales with real-life adventures starring the two of them, their toys and their friends. Huddled under the covers, they eagerly anticipated what would unfold.

I did this because my mom always told my brother, my sister and I wonderful bedtime stories. Those memories have lasted into adulthood and have been carried onto her grandchildren and great-grandchild. It didn't even strike me that my mom had created a family tradition of reading and storytelling until I recently set out to make a personalized book for my 9-month-old granddaughter.

Don't think this only works for little ones. Bedtime stories and personalized books are a big hit with older children, too. Who doesn't love to hear themselves as the hero of their own story, and more importantly, what child doesn't love to spend special time with Mom or Dad? Reading and storytelling are natural ways to create a bond as well as help develop vocabulary.

When my boys were beginning elementary school I continued to use bedtime stories and personalized books to document the great events of their little lives: special birthdays, the day they scored their first goal in soccer; the camping trip when they caught the big fish.

Reading to our children is one of the most important parenting tasks we do. If writing or telling a story on your own sounds intimidating because it's not something familiar, start simple. Buy a book at the store and insert your child's name into the story as you read it to them. The most important part of all of this is the special time shared reading stories together.

Listed below are seven easy steps to create a template for a storybook. You can adapt the process for any age of child, personalize the poem or story and make a simple, special story time at your house.


1.Pick an event or activity for your story/poem. Keep it simple if this is new to you. Choose a favorite activity or recent event.

2.Choose backgrounds to insert behind each poem/picture. Backgrounds are available at no cost online or you can purchase paper with backgrounds already on it, or make your own by gluing pictures cut from magazines onto plain white paper. This is also an activity your child can do if you're making the book together.

3.Insert your child's name where appropriate and change pronouns for gender, if needed.

4.Print out each poem/picture on individual sheets of paper after you choose your background.

5.Make a cover page with your child's name.

6.Laminate the book pages and bind it at any copy store. If you don't want it bound you can staple or clip sheets together. If laminated it can also be used as a book to read in the bath.

7.You can also make it a coloring book by using a black marker to draw characters or scenes on plain white paper. Clip together at the top.
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