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Custom-designed ABCs

Personalized alphabet books turn a ho-hum read into a page-turner.

GreatSchools Blog

By Valle Dwight

Let’s face it, alphabet books can be a bit boring — A is for apple, B is for banana ... snore. If you want your child to tune into letters and their sounds, make it personal. A personalized alphabet book appeals to kids because everything in it has a direct connection to their world.

The project: A custom-made alphabet book

Get ready: Line up your letters

  • Sit down and think about people, places, or things you can use to illustrate a letter. If your child's favorite teacher’s name is Annie, for instance, that’s a perfect one for A. 
  • Go through the alphabet, writing down the obvious ones: Mom, Dad, siblings, friends, etc. Stumped by certain letters? Think about places, animals, or favorite objects.
  • If you’re still coming up blank, resort to a regular old word. If you’re not lucky enough to have a cat named Zephyr, there’s no shame in using the old standby zoo.
  • Once your list is complete, search for photos or illustrations of each letter. If you do the project on the computer, look for photos online for your generic words.

Make it happen: Assemble your book

Use an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper (in landscape mode) folded in half to make your book. Put the letter and word on the left-hand page and the illustration on the right. Get your child to help out in whatever way she can. Laminate the pages so the book will survive the dozens of readings it’s guaranteed to get!

If even that much craftiness is too much to bear, you can just buy a small photo album and slip your letters and words on one side, photos on the other.

For an extra brain booster, ask your child to make up a sentence describing the picture (making sure she uses the word she’s chosen to illustrate the letter). Write the sentence on the right-hand page as a caption.

Valle Dwight is a reporter, writer, and mother of two school-aged boys. She has written for many magazines, including FamilyFun, Wondertime, and Working Mother.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

10/19/2009:
"This has worked for me, I recomend it, my daughter recognizes and knows most of her alphabet by relating it to a family member's name. -Ruby"
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