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Home  >  Family and Community  >  Family Collections  >  Lax
Homemade Books and Other Projects
By Andromeda Romano-Lax
Genre: Visual Arts

From an early age, we've helped Aryeh get his words, ideas and artistic visions on paper. We've never worried too much about handwriting, spelling or other formalities. In fact, even though Aryeh is beginning to write on his own, we invite him to dictate to us. That way, he gets to enjoy the flow of ideas, not just the challenge (for a 5-year-old) of cramming letters onto the page.

Our collaborative book projects have evolved from matchbook-sized cartoon books (in the beginning, I illustrated them and invited him to create a story) to larger books, either fiction or nonfiction. "What Makes A Winner," was inspired by a feature article from the Anchorage Daily News, about the life of a local marathoner. I read the entire story aloud, then asked Aryeh to re-tell it in his own words. He divided the story into five chapters (five, since it represents the number of years he's spent on this earth, is his favorite number). I was astounded to discover how much of the story he had understood and could recall, filtering it through his childhood perceptions. After Aryeh dictated his version of the story, he handlettered a cover, table of contents and index (all his ideas, especially the index, which introduced the tricky concept of alphabetization).

Aryeh's Book - Cover
Aryeh's Book - Contents Page
Aryeh's Book - Page 2

Aryeh's Book - Page 3
Aryeh's Book - Page 4

Aryeh's Book - Page 5
Aryeh's Book - Page 6

Aryeh's Book - Page 7
Aryeh's Book - Back Cover

Presently, we're working on a similar book, this time fiction, in which Aryeh tells a story from the perspective of Sacajawea (the Shoshone Indian who acted as interpreter for Lewis and Clark). For inspiration, we're reading "Streams to the River, River to the Sea," a historical juvenile novel about Sacajawea, written by Scott O'Dell.

Our writing projects are usually do-it-yourself affairs. Mostly, I want my son to equate words and play, to notice and appreciate the language all around us. We recently bought our son a camera and, as a homeschool project, asked him to photograph ABCs -- the more abstract the better (such as finding the shape "Q" in a long-handled fry pan, or a "J" in the shape of a banana). We hit one stumbling block on a late-night trip to Carrs grocery store, when the manager spotted my son and I stalking through the aisle, snapping photos of fruits, brooms, and cereal boxes. The manager informed us that customers aren't allowed to photograph the merchandise. "Did he think we were spies?" my son asked me, after we left the store giggling. "Maybe," I said. (My son's first lesson: creative writing -- even just recording the ABCs -- can be a subversive activity.) When Aryeh completes the whole photo set, we'll laminate it as a wall poster.

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