How Invitational Books can improve your child’s literacy skills while encouraging their imagination

Invitational Books:

  • Reinforce your role as first educator as you share the books with your child or children.  Your role has an impact on the formation of their interest in books, in reading, in writing, in creating, and in desiring to know.These books are multi-dimensional as an experience between you and your child.  The stories are written so that you can enjoy reading them and find meaning and understanding about life for you to share with your child.

  • Allow you to create memories of those special times while reading quietly with your child and while actively developing an adventure and character together.

  • Encourage choices between you and your child about which story they want to experience, which they want to read, and which one they liked the best and why.

  • Assist you in important character development as you reflect with your child on the qualities of the main characters, what they desired, the choices they made, how they affected others, how they succeeded, and the moral value of their transformation through their adventure.

  • Help your child learn developmentally appropriate completion skills and encourage them to go step-by-step through the process of enhancing and completing the illustrations, creating the character, and writing or telling their own story.

These books are designed so that as the child finishes each page, you have a keepsake to look back at and remember your child as they progressed in their talent, skills and artistry.

Helping your child practice sound literacy skills

Step One: Interactive Read Aloud

First, read the book before reading it to your child. When you introduce the book to your child, explain that they are going to have the chance to co-create the book with the author and the illustrator. (Some children may need help understanding those words.)

Tell your child that you are going to read the story to them, and while you do that, ask them to make pictures in their minds.  Give them a moment to practice making pictures in their mind by suggesting some ideas—a big ice cream sundae with a cherry on top, a sunny day where you are playing ball with a friend, a big hug from someone you love, etc.

Read the book, reminding them every once in a while to be making pictures in their minds. When you come to a word that you are not sure they will undestand stop and ask them what it means. Try not to stop the reading too frequently.  You might also stop occasionally to have them predict what will happen next.

Step Two: Understanding the Story

After you have read the story to your child, spend some time asking him or her questions about the story. You can use the “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” ideas for beginning the questions. You can also use “What if..?” “What would you do if..?” “What might have happened before the story began?”

Encourage your child to express their own ideas. Be supportive of their responses. If you need to go back to the text to have your child prove their response, don’t be afraid to reread a section.

Step Three: Words, Words, Words

As you read the story, you will have come across some words that your child found interesting or challenging. Write each word on a separate strip of paper and talk about the words with them. You can then post the words on a chart paper entitled “Words Wall.” Words can also be put in small boxes for your child to access when they have time. If you are working with more than one child, they can work in pairs and read the words to each other and use them in a sentence.

Step Four: Exploring the Books on Their Own

Give the books to your child and have them look through the books themselves. Younger children can retell the stories to themselves while they look through the pages. Older children can read the story on their own as they look through the pages. You can reread the story out loud as the children follow along as well.  Older children can read the story to younger children in another grouping.

Step Five: Making Meaning of the Story

(This work should be done over several sessions.) Help the children understand that they are invited by the author and illustrator to add their meaning to the story. Point out some of the prompts in the corners of the page. They will add to the illustrations so that others may look at their books and be able to see their ideas of the story.

Encourage the children to reread no more than two pages at a time. Younger children may need to have pages read to them. Encourage them to tell you the meaning of the pages in their own words before they start drawing. Any available art materials can be used to help them with their illustrations—crayons, markers, collage materials, paints, etc. Encourage them to be as creative as possible.

Periodically, celebrate the individual work of the children. Pay special attention to the different interpretations of the ideas and welcome the individuality. Also have them create the portrait of the main character. Emphasize the uniqueness and how each of the children is unique. You might even have them look at themselves in a mirror to emphasize how special they are and how special each of their drawings of the main character is.

Step six: Telling Your Own Story

Have your child turn to the page in the book entitled “Telling Your Own Story.” Read the question at the top of the page to them. Encourage him or her to think about their answers “in their mind.”

After a while, encourage your child to write the answer to the question in the space provided. Younger children may need to dictate their story to you.  At the completion, encourage your child to read their work to you or to any other child that may be present.