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5 Easy Steps to Make Cute Picture Books for your Kids

It’s easy to make your own little readers at home.

Books based on your child’s interests and experiences will make reading relatable and enjoyable for them.

Here’s how you do it…

1. Find a story structure.

You’ll start to notice repeating sentence stems in books for early readers.

For example:

My Family.
This is my mom.
This is my dad.
This is my brother.
This is my sister.
This is my grandma.
This is my grandpa.
This is me!
This is my family.

This is my is repeated over and over. This is a story structure that you could use in your little reader.

Other examples of repeating sentence stems:

Here is ___________.
Here is ___________.
Here is ___________.

Look at the ___________.
Look at the ___________.
Look at the ___________.


The _______ is here.
The _______ is here.
The _______ is here.

and many more!

2. Choose a Topic that Your Child would Love.

Does your child love cars?
Create a book that highlights their interests.

Do they have a favourite stuffed animal?
Create a book that features objects around home that have meaning to them.

Is the local farm their favourite place to go in the world?
Create a book about a recent trip or adventure you went on (…adventures can be to the park near your house).

The overall goal is to create a book that has meaning for them. Just add your own words to the sentence stems and you’re on your way.

3. Take Some Photos

This is the fun part! Get creative and take some photos for their book.

our little ones had fun staging these pictures.

It’s easy to go overboard (as in taking waaay too many pictures); it’s fun, right?! But try to keep your book to 8 pages or so (I notice that in most early readers, there are 8 pages total). Use this as a guideline to keep your book short and engaging for your little one. You don’t want a book that seems to drag on.

4. Create the Book.

Set up your Document

I use Google Docs to create books for my kids. Whatever word processor you use is totally fine (e.g., MS Word), just try to keep it easy and quick for you – otherwise you won’t feel like making them.

Here is a book for you, to help get started: Our Stuffies.

Feel free to make yourself a copy of the document so you don’t have to start from scratch (Just go to ‘File’ and then ‘Make a Copy’). Personalize it with your own photos and change up the text. My hope in sharing it is that you can see what it looks like as a document.

I use Comic Sans font because it’s the only font that has a proper shaped ‘a’.

Upload your Photos.

I found that the fastest thing to do was use AirDrop. If you have a MAC computer, go to that magnifying glass (search / find) icon in the top right hand corner of your screen. Then search AirDrop.

Then open up the camera roll on your phone. Select the photos you want to send yourself. You’ll notice once you hit the arrow in the bottom left hand corner to send it (either through text, email, etc.), tap AirDrop instead. Your photos will instantly go into the downloads folder in your computer. Save your pics and drag them into your document.

If you don’t have Apple products, email yourself the photos and save them to your desktop. I used to do that before I figured out AirDrop.

5. Print your Book, Cut & Staple. Done!

This baby doesn’t need to be perfect. Let’s be honest, there are going to be little hands all over it. That’s the whole point. We want them to read the book over and over. It’s going to get wrinkled and crumpled, and we can just print off another copy. No big deal.

I stack the pages and hold them up to the window to see through them. I quickly hack across with scissors doing my best not to cut off the words. Seriously. It’s meant to be quick and easy.

Arrange the pages as you wish and staple together. I use multiple staples along the edge versus one in the corner because I don’t want pages being ripped off while turning. It’s totally up to you.

Note from the writer (Lainie):

I decided to start making little readers for our son, Tate, when he started getting leveled books sent home from his junior kindergarten class. The books felt so outdated and low interest. The book about family was very nuclear and the book about Dad was about fixing things and working out. It’s not a judgment of the school or the teacher. You use what you have. I just decided to make my own.

I thought Tate might find it fun to read books about his favourite stuffed animal doing silly things (he has a funny little sense of humour) or to see photos of his family. Now we have three books and are looking forward to making more.

Although I was once a teacher, I do not have the same background in early reading as my friends and colleagues, so I reached out and asked them to share their knowledge and experiences with you by commenting on this post. Make sure you read the comments below. Just in reading them, I learned more. Thank you, Heather!

I hope you found this post helpful.

You can see other projects I do with and for the kids on my website: There’s an option to follow my site to get updates right to your inbox (because who has time to search out someone’s website regularly). I’m also on Instagram sharing crafty projects at @verylainie.

the Lainie List.

I love drawing with Tate.
He learned how to draw his first boat this week.
  1. chocolate chip banana bread recipe from Hershey
  2. this cute bedside lamp might end up on my Christmas Wish List.
  3. setting daily intentions will change your life
  4. finished reading this and now reading this
  5. Tate brings this library book home every other week.
  6. the word collector. love this children’s book. beautiful.
  7. The Hidden Life of Trees. I totally nerded out over this book. it was fascinating.
  8. The Magnolia Journal. I always find pieces of inspiration in this magazine.
  9. Whiskey in a Tea Cup gets me thinking about the book I’m writing for the kids (layout and design wise – also content pieces).
  10. Evidence: the first Mary Oliver poetry book I’ve read. love her already.

the Lainie List.

a rare moment of being outside this week. with -30s we’ve been indoors a lot.
  1. Chocolate peanut butter oatmeal.
  2. See Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper Perform ‘Shallow’ Live for First Time – Rolling Stone
  3. lemon ginger elixir
  4. two upcoming workshops: upcycle mittens and printmaking on fabric!
  5. and recipes

A short list this week!
Can you tell I’ve been indoors a lot, keeping little ones busy?!

the Lainie List.

this is Charlie. she’ll be two next week. she is rough and tumble
and has two bruises to show it.
  1. Mary Oliver, Pulitzer prize-winning poet, dies aged 83 | The Guardian
  2. Amber Rae on self sabotage
  3. This woman is unbelievable. Won brutal 430 km race in record time while making stops to pump milk for her baby daughter.
  4. Austin Kleon: You don’t have to be good.
  5. How to use gmail more effectively.
  6. airtable app.
  7. Brené Brown animated video on Empathy. good food for thought.
  8. The Road Back to You. Might be interesting if you’re into the enneagram.
  9. pinecone mug. very cute.
  10. aliedwards: Storytelling with Project Life.
  11. Grow Curious on kickstarter.
  12. the graveyard told stories of everyone’s lives.
  13. two new creative workshops coming up in February (facilitated by me!)

the Lainie List

she needs to go to sleep with all three of her babies. and get tucked in.
  1. The Spiritual Child. a book recommended by a friend.
  2. Whiskey In A Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits, Book by Reese Witherspoon
  3. Love the Get to Work Book products like: Do Good Work (print) and motivational cards
  4. Austin Kleon and guardian spirits for his notebooks
  5. Dead little tree free library is the most creative I’ve seen
  6. Far From the Tree. Loved this on Netflix.
  7. Stretch cording
  8. the best field guides. keeping this idea for later.
  9. Meet the woman who creates dolls like me for children with disabilities. heartwarming.
  10. The Confessions Game

we sang you home.

by Richard Van Camp
illustrations by Julie Flett

we sang you from a wish
we sang you from a prayer

we sang you home
and you sang back

we give you kisses
to help you grow

and songs to let you know
that you are loved

as we give you roots
you give us wings

and through you
we are born again

our everyday miracle
our everyday smile

our forever home
is inside of you

thank you for joining us
thank you for choosing us

thank you for becoming
the best of all of us

we sang you home
thank you for singing back

welcome to the world
we love you!

a reminder of how kids awaken a new us. they leave us changed and for the better.

my creative hibernation.

I so badly need to go into hibernation. I’ve been filling my head with ideas and images for the last 3 years; collecting pieces I love on my phone, in notebooks, in Google docs… I’ve been squirreling away stuff. I keep telling myself that I’ll need it later. Now it’s time.

I’m ready to do a brain dump. To go back through everything I’ve gathered and create something with it. I don’t know what it will look like, but I’m excited and hopeful. It feels important, and at the same time, I’m also afraid. What if it ends up being nothing?

I know that I care about stories and making things with layers of meaning. I’m not sure how these pieces will come together, but I’m hoping that by the spring, I’ll be able to answer this question.

I also know myself. I can easily list 10 projects or more that I would love to tackle this winter. I want to sew a lap quilt made of wools from home. I want to sew a Canadiana quilt. I want to host more mitten making workshops. I want to make an online course: How to Sew Upcycled Mittens from Sweaters. I want to help my Mom finish her online course: Sew Your First Quilt. I want to do more printing with wood. I want to learn how to sew my own clothes. I want to offer my Writing Acts of Kindness e-course….

See how this brain of mine works?! I am very good at filling my time with a whole bunch of projects that could easily veer me away from doing the work that I need to do.

So in thinking about my creative hibernation, I’ve asked myself, What will inactivity look like for me this winter? Meaning, how will I stay focused and settled? Because I need to keep my head clear in order for everything to come out.

This is my plan:

  • no work on the weekends (I need to turn it off, even though I enjoy it)
  • sticking to work blocks versus family time (not grabbing time here and there while the kids have a snack or watch TV)
  • saying no to things that are not aligned to my goals (even if I really want to do it). Note to self: I need to really pinpoint goals so I can use them as a filter.
  • slowing down and being intentional with my time and work.
  • one thing / one place at a time. “I am eating lunch versus I am eating lunch and scrolling Instagram and thinking about my next project.

So if you notice lots of projects popping up in my Instagram (@verylainie), please ask me how my writing is going. It will be the reminder I need to stay the course rather than avoiding it – because I’m afraid.

Here’s to an interesting winter…

If you’d like to follow along with me as I figure out what this looks like, you’ll find me on Instagram (@verylainie).

the Lainie List.

the boys getting ready on Christmas Eve. Tate cut carrots for the reindeer. Thatcher got the cookie plate ready for Santa.
  1. this song made me laugh at Tate’s Christmas concert. it’s really cute.
  2. who knew that a picture of tea tags could be so cool.
  3. this has sparked my next art project.
  4. Reuben de Maid’s first makeup tutorial (he’s 13 years old)
  5. The DO Lectures: Tina Roth Eisenberg
  6. How to Email Busy People
  7. love this fabric shop.
  8. Merchant & Mills Patterns
  9. I want to learn how to sew: The Victor, The Dress Shirt, The Tee Shirt, The Top 64 (as a dress)
  10. The Story of Your Year
  11. Wreck this Journal
  12. Mom’s Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies
  13. Daddy O Doughnuts are ridiculously good. keep up with the changing menu through their Instagram account.
  14. FIKA Cafe. I want to go here.

my makeup story.

I recently decided to become a grown up…

my makeup bag as a 38 year old woman. it’s pretty embarrassing.

I have a make up bag that was a Christmas gift from a friend. Tweezers. Mascara my Mom bought me last Christmas. I have eye shadow with a brush that has fallen apart. I don’t remember when I bought the blush (there are only a few small pieces left inside). I have a compact. I usually pick fair because I’m a pretty pasty redhead. There’s under eye stuff; I bought after having our son, Tate. I saw Marilyn Dennis talking about it on TV one day. I found it at Shoppers Drug Mart. And there’s lip gloss that I’ve worn once. I hate how tacky it feels on my lips.

I recently ordered this through a friend (hence why I feel like a grown up).

I don’t know what colours I should wear for eye shadow. I thought I’d try this.
I decided to try this tinted lip gloss. I hate the feel and taste of a regular lip stick.
I’ve upgraded my under eye concealer to the fancy gold stick thing. I ordered a defining brow pencil (I have no idea how to use it. I just know that as a redhead, my eye brows are barely noticeable). I ordered blush and the other items in the picture were complimentary. And today (as I write this), I went to MAC to buy my first makeup brushes. I was asked if I liked full coverage or contouring. Sorry, I have no idea. I’m just learning all of this stuff.  I came home with three brushes and feeling very uncomfortable with how much they cost. Makeup is expensive! 

I have wanted to learn about makeup since I was in elementary school.

My mom never wore it. My grandma didn’t either.

My Auntie Lyd did. I remember asking her if she would teach me how to properly wear makeup. She once talked to me about blush and how it went along the cheek bones. I didn’t get to learn more from her. My Auntie Lyd died in a house fire when I was in grade 8.

The first time I wore makeup, I was in grade 9. My cousin Troy had asked me to be a junior bridesmaid in his wedding. My older cousin Laurie (who I thought was the coolest) took me to a pharmacy and picked out what I needed. It’s pretty much what I buy and wear now. A Cover Girl compact. Blush. Eye shadow. Mascara.

20 years later, I’ve decided to buy something different and figure out how to wear it. And I don’t know why.

And why now? We have three small children. My time is limited. And financially, I shouldn’t be spending money on something like makeup. And yet, I want to.

Maybe it’s because I’m tired of looking frumpy. Maybe it’s because I want to feel good. I have no idea. But I do love how it looks when people wear it well. I love the colour and how it can bring a healthy glow to someone’s face.

I also want to teach Charlie how to wear makeup when she’s older (if she wants to). I want it to be seen as something that is fun and more about how she feels when wearing it. I think growing up I picked up on a lot of negative messages shared by those around me. People who wore makeup were self-absorbed or caught up in their appearance. Wearing makeup was to draw attention to yourself. For me, I just want to feel more confident wearing it and more knowledgeable.

So if you happen to know of some good videos I could watch or a place to go to learn more, let me know!

my word for 2019.

Why this word?

these two lines stood out to me…

“the heart is regarded as the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions”
“the central or innermost part of something.”

I’ve had something on my mind for over a year now and I haven’t made it happen.  It’s something that is close to my heart which is why I probably keep myself busy with other projects.  You can’t fail or struggle, if you haven’t gone there yet.

In 2019, I’m going to make it happen.  It will be a part of my creative hibernation. 

Want to choose a word for 2019?  Susannah Conway has a great 5 day email course, Find Your Word (it’s free).  You need to try it.  I love it.  She has a way of taking a complex idea and breaking it down into simple and meaningful steps.

It’s been a game changer for me.  I constantly come back to my word throughout the year.  It helps keep me grounded and focused, constantly working towards my goals; where a typical new year’s resolution kept me going for a week. 

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