Instead of using another book as a starting point, dads can help children develop more independent book ideas. Here are two suggestions:
- Childrenís experiences can be the subject of the book. For example, after children make a bowl of fruit salad or visit a park, dads can help them write a book about their adventure. Children will be able to understand this book, because they were there for the events described in the book. When Wan Innís children were young, her family went through phase of writing about Myself, My Family and similar topics. They also wrote about their visits to different places. Once, after eating lobster sashimi, Wan Innís daughter, Joanne, had a dream of the lobster coming after her! That dream inspired a story.
- Childrenís interests can lead them to explore these topics, and their explorations can be the subject of the book. For example, children can find out about games that children played during their parentsí time and then write a book showing how some of the games are played. One time, Wan Innís younger son, Jason, came up with a creative explanation for how zebras got their black stripes: God fell asleep after putting the animals in the oven to bake.
Now that dads have discussed finding topics for books, what about actually writing them. How much of the writing should children do? The answer is: As much as they can. The principle is to make the book the childrenís book as much as possible. For example, even if dads do all the writing and most of the drawing, children can help supply ideas and color the drawings.
We want to be a facilitator. We want to children to develop their thinking, speaking, writing, and artistic ability to the greatest extent possible. We can do whatever children cannot. We can also offer suggestions, ask questions to prod thinking, help with vocabulary and grammar, and give lots and lots of encouragement.
Of course, writing is not easy, even when children use another book as a model. Writing is not easy for adults either. Letís start small and start simple, and cherish small victories. Just one page is fine.
Dad reminder: You can start to read to your kids at ANY age. It's fun for the kids and dad. It really is a dad duty!
- George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D.
Dr. George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Dr. Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D. are the authors of many books (including "The Read Aloud Guide", textbooks for teachers and students, curriculum guides, and children's storybooks).
Find out more about reading aloud to your kids.