The write stuff
Personalized fairy tales offer a sure-fire trip to happily ever after.
There’s no shame in relying on the tried-and-true formula of popular fairy tales and simply changing the characters’ names.
By Valle Dwight
Kids have an inherent fascination with fairy tales, probably because they contain drama, adventure, and usually a happy ending. A fairy tale that features a child’s own friends and family is practically guaranteed to capture her imagination — and will motivate even kids who aren’t yet into books to try their hand at storytelling.
The project: A custom-made fairy tale starring your child
Get ready: Seed some fanciful ideas
- Read aloud from a favorite fairy tale and ask your child what names to use for the various characters (assuming that she will be the hero, naturally) — for example, she could use family members, classmates, or neighbors to costar in her tale.
- Suggest familiar places to use for settings so that the “enchanted forest” might become the school playground or some other favorite spot. Her pets can become creatures of the forest, the local pond can become a magic mirror — the sky is the limit!
- Once she gets the hang of it, encourage your child to come up with her own ideas.
- Jot down notes as she talks about her fairy tale, asking her questions to get more details, if necessary.
Make it happen: Get it down on paper
It’s time to sit down together to write your book.
- Ask your child to dictate the story to you or write it herself using plain construction paper folded once, book-style. Leave the right side blank for illustrations. Or, if she can, have her type it up on the computer, and then print it out in landscape mode, leaving room for illustrations.
- Use a big font so that your child will be able to easily pick out her name and all the elements of the story that make it special to her.
- Have her put her artistic stamp on the book by doing the illustrations for the story. Even unskilled artists can color and decorate the pages. You can also look through photographs together to make a collage — or mix and match family photos, drawings, and cutouts from magazines.
- Don’t forget the cover, which should feature your child as the author! To make sure that the book survives many readings at the hands of preschoolers, have it laminated at a copy shop.