With summer break on the horizon, one of my favorite activities to do with the kids is to create journals of our adventures. Kwame Alexander’s lovely How to Read a Book inspired us to create these colorful notebooks. The best part is, no matter your child’s age, you can make an assortment of these for different activities by filling them with blank pages, college or wide-ruled lined paper, graph, or watercolor paper. And they’ll be specially made and one-of-a-kind!
Whether we’re road-tripping, hanging out at the beach, or just spending time at home doing family activities, journals and notebooks are a great way to document these special moments. Some of my children’s most memorable drawings have been when I’ve asked them about something and they’ve drawn a picture. The picture may not resemble a beach or boat, but I help them by asking them to describe their drawing so that I can write the description for them.
The descriptive words on every page of How to Read a Book will work each of the senses, encouraging your child to touch, create, and explore the most wonderful things. It will not only teach them how to read a book but also how to write their own story that’s full of emotion, feelings, and sensory words.
· Cereal box (or any other thin cardboard box such as cracker boxes or gift boxes — this would also be a great opportunity to recycle materials you might have thought about throwing away!)
· Card stock and colored paper
· Sketching, writing, or graph paper
· Embroidery thread and needle
· Glue stick
1. Decide on the size for your journal. The easiest journal to create is using standard 8.5 × 11 pieces of paper. Open up the cardboard box and place a piece of paper over the top. Trace around it and cut it out. Note: You will need to make the cardboard about 5mm longer than the paper (length, not width), so that when the folded pieces of paper are tucked inside the cover won’t spill out the side of the book.
2. Fold your cardboard cover in half with the image on the inside.
3. Cut a colored piece of paper the same size as the cardboard, fold it in half to create a crease down the center, and then glue it over the side of the cover that has pictures on it.
4. Measure and draw dots (with a pencil) every half inch down the center of the book cover. Poke a needle through each hole, and then repeat this step with the paper that will fill the notebook.
5. Using a needle and embroidery thread sew the paper onto the cardboard cover. Leave about 4–5 inches of thread at the top and bottom. Once you’ve finished stitching, tie a knot in the end over the edge of the book.
6. Now it’s time to decorate your cover. Get as creative as you like whether you want to call it a travel journal, an art book, a book based on your favorite character, or a book about your family.
7. Write block letters on colored pieces of paper, cut them out, and stick them onto the cover.