Every year I asked the children to create a very simple book as a family homework assignment. I gave directions for this assignment right before our Holiday break, and many parents chose to work on it during vacation, but my goal was to have a book from each child by the end of February. In my district we celebrated “March is Reading Month.” I’m not sure if that is common in other districts, but we were always expected to do something special for reading during March, and these books were great.
Most of my families attended our Holiday Program, so after the program and before refreshments I used this opportunity to explain this homework assignment, and read a sample book to the parents. My sample books were always a very short, simple pattern that used sight words we had already learned. The examples I am sharing contain photographs, but I also showed parents books made by cutting out magazine pictures, and some that had illustrations drawn by the children.
Here is another sample book:
I also sent home a detailed letter explaining the assignment.
When the children brought their book into school I asked them to sit in our “author’s chair” and read it to the class. I had a microphone system in my classroom, so the children read their book using the microphone – they loved that! They called on children to give them a compliment, then I put their book aside to save for March is Reading Month.
I photocopied a list of the children’s names with space to write, and attached one of these inside each book for comments or compliments. Then I bought extra large, 2 gallon sized baggies. Each book was put inside a baggie for safekeeping. Each day during the month of March the children borrowed another child’s book to take home. They wrote their compliment next to their own name on the paper in each book. I emphasized to parents how important it was to return these books every day so more children could have a turn to borrow them.
In my letter I asked parents to make duplicate copies if possible to be sure we had enough books to borrow, even if someone forgot to return one. I didn’t worry or keep track to see if everyone borrowed every book, they just enjoyed the ones they got to take home. At the end of the month I collected all the books and returned them to the authors, along with an author certificate that I made on the computer.
I got a LOT of positive feedback from parents about this project. Even parents who were leery about doing it with their child reported how much they enjoyed reading the books the other kids had made at home. There were a few children who brought in books with lots of long, involved text; but most of them created a book that every child in our class could read. It was a lot of fun!