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 their imagination — and will motivate even kids who aren’t yet into books to try their hand at storytelling.

The project: A fairy tale starring your child

Step 1: 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 your will be the hero, naturally). For example, your child could use family members, classmates, or neighbors to costar in this tale.
  • Suggest familiar places to use for settings so that the “enchanted forest” might become the school playground or some other favorite spot. Pets can become creatures of the forest, the local pond can become a magic mirror — the sky is the limit!
  • Once your child gets the hang of it, encourage them to come up with their own ideas.
  • Jot down notes as your child talks about their fairy tale, asking questions to get more details, if necessary.

Step 2: Get it down on paper

It’s time to sit down together to write your fairy tale.

  • Ask your child to dictate the story to you or write it themself using plain construction paper folded once, book-style. Leave the right side blank for illustrations. Or, if you have a printer, have your child type it up on the computer and then print it out in landscape mode, leaving room for illustrations.
  • Use a big font so that it’s easy to read aloud and has that fairy-tale look with fancy, extra large letters to start new sections.
  • Have your child put their 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, have it laminated at a copy shop.