Have you ever sat down to plan a curricular unit for your preschool class, but just can't seem to find the books you need? Sometimes the books you want simply don't exist, or when it does, they are written for older children, they might be too wordy, or just uninteresting.
For some topics, like firefighters, butterflies, or trains there are loads of books to choose from at a variety of levels. But, sometimes our unit of study is something a little more niche, like haircuts or supermarkets.
If we are going to dive into a curricular topic, there are usually some bits of information and ideas that we want students to learn, and books and stories are perfect vehicles for delivering information. (Another topic with lots of books-vehicles.) So one solution, when you can't find the book you need is to create your own. This way you can tailor the information you want to impart to perfectly usit your audience.
Even when we are exploring a unit for which books abound, I still often want to create books for my students. And more importantly, ABOUT my students. Here's why. An integral part of learning about anything and everything, is incorporating new information into your current knowledge, views, and experiences of the world. Teacher and class made books are a wonderful way to help create that connection. The information stored within these teacher made books immediately becomes relevant to them. Because it is about them.
When our class spent each and every circle time telling each other about their beds and their night time routines, we did what we often do. We made a book about it. First children illustrated pictures, and dictated words about their beds. Parents helped by sending us photos that we could add to our book as well. When the book was done we had gathered so much information about each other. Once that information was stored in the pages of a book, the children could revisit it over and over again.
When children are the subjects of a book, it lets them know that they matter and their stories are worth recording and telling. What a powerful lesson in self worth, and in literacy. They will learn to read and write in the coming years, already knowing that they have stories to tell about themselves.
Early literacy is so much more than learning to recognize and decode the ABC's. (We do not formally teach them to our 2's and 3's anyway.) It's also learning that our stories and our very own words can be captured in those lines and squiggles. It's feeling connected to books as a way to learn about the world. It's about reading books and creating conversations around books.
And quite frankly, sometimes it's just fun. And that is important too.