DIY Easy Readers

If you’ve spent much time looking through the early reader section at the library or book store, you probably noticed that the selection is pretty slim and most of the books are…. well…. boring.  It’s no wonder that many beginning readers aren’t very interested in practicing their new skill!


To help motivate your child to read, try this trick.  Buy an inexpensive photo album like the one photographed here – it cost $2 at Target.  Pick a title for your story.  If your child  loves talking about her accomplishments, your book could be named “Things I Can Do”.  If she is an explorer, you might title the story “Things I Can See”.  Or if she loves talking about family members, title your book, “My Family”.


Once you choose a name for the book, make a simple cover.  Since I knew I would be blogging about this project, I created mine on the computer but writing on a blank index card works just as well.  Be sure to include your title and a line that says “By (your child’s name)”.  That will help her take ownership of the new book and will give her practice reading her name.


Next, fill the book with photographs of your topic.  If possible, include your child in the pictures so that she can connect the images she sees with her own life.


Use labels to add a caption for each picture.  If your child is a very early reader, write just one word.  If she is beginning to sound out words on her own, write short sentences.  Look at the pictures below to see examples of writing different levels of difficulty.



More difficult.

Somewhat difficult.


More words makes this more difficult.

Finally, add a back cover to the book that reads “Look at who listened to me read!” Each time your child reads the story to someone, the listener will sign the back of her book.  Collecting signatures motivates new readers to continue practicing stories over and over again.  And repeating the words helps her brain learn them more quickly.



About Malia Hollowell

Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher turned stay at home mama to three young kids {4.5, 3 and 1}. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education {go Stanford!} and spent seven years teaching in a classroom. Since starting Playdough to Plato in 2012, her ideas have been featured in Parenting Magazine, Pinterest's Top Educational Pins and Kiwi Crate.


  1. Love this idea – so much more interesting, personalized to the child!

  2. Thank you, Mama Smiles!

  3. What a wonderful idea! My little one just turned two, so he’s not reading yet. But, this would still be a great book for him to practice naming objects he knows. I can totaly see this being used for several different ages.

    Thanks for the idea! I’m going to feature this on Friday for the Weekly Kid’s Co-op. Come by, check it out, and grab a button!

  4. Thanks for stopping by and saying “hi”, Amanda! I’m to check out your post on Friday. Thanks for the feature. :)

  5. P.S. Hilarious blog name!!

  6. What a fabulous idea! And a fun way to see themselves involved in reading! Featuring this tomorrow on Weekly Kid’s Co-op! Please stop by for a featured button! :)

  7. Thanks for the feature!! I’m heading over to grab the button now. :)

  8. I am going to try this idea with my children. They are both learning to read, and I think they would love this!

  9. That’s great news, Danielle! Thanks for saying “hello”.


  1. […] say I’m not big on Fairy Princess Barbie books – is pretty darn hard. So when I saw Playdough to Plato’s great idea of making your own Easy Reader books, I knew I had to give it a go. I thought of going with the paper model, maybe putting it together […]

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