My older son is about to turn seven, which is blowing my mind. Age six still feels to me like it falls safely in little-kid land. Seven, by contrast, feels big. I remember seven. I remember feeling a sense of independence at age seven – and an early understanding of self-identity. I can’t believe this baby of mine is crossing over into that place I remember so well. Quick, before it all starts speeding up even more, I have to get this down: who he is now – still a little guy. An assisted autobiography, if you will.
Write Your Interview You know your child best, so you’ll be able to create the best questions to draw your child out. Try to tailor-fit your questions enough so that they resonate – but not so much that they are leading questions. You want to leave them open-ended enough that you discover something in the process. And for every question you know they’ll have a lot to say in response, tuck a more obscure question in between. They’ll ride the confidence of having answered well and have the brave spirit to get creative with their next answer. Or not. If you stump them and they have nothing to say, simply move on to the next questions, and feel free to leave that query out of the mix. Or if the silence itself on a certain subject is funny, make a note of that for your book!
Solicit an "About the Author" Ask your child to write a little bio to include in the opening pages of the book. Give a loose description of what you want so it’s distinguished from the interview questions. You might say: write three sentences about who you are – what makes you YOU. See where that leads you. If your child needs more help, give them more specific direction as you see fit. It’s always nice, though, to start with as little guidance as possible to let their mind’s eye take it where it naturally goes
Have Your Child Introduce Family Members Include pictures, portraits, paintings or drawings of family members – including the family pets. Have your child write the caption explaining who this is and why they’re special.
Self Portrait Commission a self-portrait for the book. Have your child paint, draw or photograph him- or herself. Include one or many renditions on a full spread of your photo book.
My Favorite Things Have your child make a list of his or her favorite things. If they need help thinking of things, you can help them think of things and come up with 10 or 20 items for the list. Or, if your child has no problem whatsoever coming up with things, let him or her make the list as long as necessary. How sweet would it be to have a list of 400 favorite things!
Print Your Book! If you’re telling your child about the book – or even having him or her help you with its creation – you can collaborate to complete the project. Or do all your prep work for the book surreptitiously so there’s no suspicion around what you’re doing. You won’t believe how thrilled they are to see a printed and bound photo book that’s all about them. Print extra copies for the grandparents and adoring aunties and uncles. You might find the project is such a hit that you make a tradition of it each year around your child’s birthday.
Happy Mixbooking! Happy biographing!*
*If “biographing” isn’t a word, we think it should be!