Guest Blogger

Character Craft – Bringing Your Favorite Storybook Characters To Life

Getting a child to sit down and read a book can occasionally be a trying time.   With so many distractions capable of steering your child’s mind in a different direction, finding the right angle to present a great book to a young mind can sometimes call to be a bit creative and think outside the box.  One great tactic I often employ with my girls is implementing a craft projects to spur both their desire to read and their imaginations.  Supplementing your child’s favorite book with crafts and projects is a great way to make that story stay alive long after the last page has been turned.  Below are three great craft ideas suited for children of all ages and ability levels.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Paper Chain; Eric Carle
Difficulty Level  1

Eric Carle’s, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is simply put, an amazing book.  Carle seamlessly weaves numerous teaching opportunities into his simple narrative.  The contents of his storybook offer the perfect springboard to open up a dialogue about concepts such as colors, sequencing and days of the week all while the child is blissfully unaware that he or she is learning these things.

To start you will need the following:

  • Scissors
  • Colored paper (green, brown, red and orange)
  • Glue (I prefer glue sticks for younger children, they get a huge kick out of them and the cleanup is 10x faster)

This craft can be altered to meet the ability level of many young minds.  If your young one is still mastering the finer concepts of hand-eye coordination consider cutting some of the paper ahead of time.

To begin, take three or four strips of green paper cut to 1’x3’ segments and connect them together at opposite ends to create a circle.  These circles are then glued together to create the body of the caterpillar.  No caterpillar would be complete without a head so cut a piece of red paper to the same dimension as the green strip.  This is than attached to the body. Next our little guy needs some eyes and antennas.  Cut two small orange circles for eyes and two small brown rectangles for his antennas.  Once these are glued on we are almost finished. Staying in the vein of the book, our caterpillars need something to munch on, so let’s give them a leaf to eat.  Using a clean piece of green paper, have your child draw their best leaf and then cut it out for our caterpillars to perch on.  If you have access to a hole puncher, you can have your child embellish the leaf a bit by adding some “bite marks” around the edge.  To finish, simply glue the caterpillar to his leaf perch and voila! Your child has his or her very own very hungry caterpillar.

The Gingerbread Boy Gingerbread Cookies; Paul Galdone
Difficulty Level 2

The holidays are behind us, but that shouldn’t stop us from exposing kids to classic folk-tales of the season.  There are a variety of holiday books on the market which can be used throughout the year, but a favorite of mine (and one that almost begs you to accompany it with a tasty treat) is the story of the gingerbread man.  At its core, this story originating in 1875, offers some great teaching opportunities for rhythm, rhyme and repetition.   After the reading has been done steer your flock into the kitchen and whip up some tasty gingerbread men of your very own.

This baking project is aimed at children who have had a little exposure to measurements, mixing and of course, oven safety.  If your child has not yet delved into the world of cooking, use this activity as a great starting point!

A standard gingerbread recipe that I like to use can be found here.

After the treats have been baked and cooled the real fun can begin.  To inspire creativity and continue to utilize the book I suggest bringing it right into the kitchen with you!  Open up to some of the pages and have your child try to emulate the same design that they see in the picture.  Also, for those of us with kinesthetic learners, this stage of the project is a great way to reinforce some of the literary devices that are taking place in the storybook.

Book of Your Choosing’s “Design Your Own Shoes”
Difficulty Level  3

I can’t speak for all parents, but my girls are constantly wanting some new addition to their already much too large wardrobe.  My oldest child, now in her teens still loves to read and still gets a creative flair (especially when she gets something cool and functional from the deal).  This project is aimed at a higher age or child with a great artistic flair.  To get the ball rolling I showed my child some examples of other artist work online (do a quick Google search with the term “shoe art”, is also a great source for examples).  The deal was that if she were to read a novel that was age appropriate and deemed of some literary worth by me, I would in turn purchase all the necessary art supplies and shoes to make this happen.

For this super trendy project you will need:

  • A pair of white canvas shoes (Vans are great and are generally pretty cheap)
  • A pack of Prisma brand Markers (they give almost no bleed and come in amazing, eye-popping colors)
  • One or two Sakura Microperm pens for outlining your design
  • A waterproofing spray (available at almost all craft stores)

Before the project is started, sit down with your teen and discuss some of the themes, images and settings of the novel that they wrote.  My daughter and I drafted a list of these things.  After we felt we had an adequate amount of ideas, we took a closer look and discussed which ones would really translate into a great design idea on a shoe.  From here, we started to sketch out some images of what we had talked about.  She read Lois Lowry’s masterpiece The Giver so we had plenty of really great theme and images to work with that were pretty easy to illustrate.  We came up with different pictures of the villager’s trade skills as well as ways of illustrating the books themes of sameness and individuality.

From here, let your artist put the basic outline of these sketches on to the shoe using a standard No. 2 pencil. This way if mistakes are made, they are easily corrected.  After this has been done to satisfaction, start to outline your pictures, words and shapes with the micropen.  Give your ink some time to dry and then you can move in with the Prisma colors.  Encourage your teen to work in sections on the shoe to prevent any smearing as it dries.  This project can take a little bit to finish and is best spread out over the course of a few days.

After everything has been colored to satisfaction your child is free to try on her new “kicks”.  However, one thing to keep in mind, don’t forget to waterproof spray your creation in order to keep it looking in top shape longer.  My daughter’s new shoes were a huge hit at her school and even got the attention of a few of her teachers!

Perhaps none of these ideas caught your eye?  If your child has just finished a book or has a favorite that they keep returning to put your creative juices to work and see what you can do to let that literary world be alive for just a little bit longer in the mind of your child.  Scour the internet, look in books.  Projects and ideas are hiding everywhere; you’ve just got to find them!


maria hughes 150Our guest blogger today is Maria L Hughes. Maria is a children’s book enthusiast, parent, and online publisher for She enjoys blogging about reading and kids’ books at

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


  1. Jeanette W. Stickel

    What creative ideas! I’d love to see a pair of those designer shoes you described.

  2. Cen

    I LOVE these ideas! Thank you!

  3. Sue Spence Daniel

    What a great idea! This is perfect! Crafts and Reading 🙂

  4. Maria Hughes

    I’ll try to find a photo of the shoes, I know I have one buried somewhere! I’d take a picture of them now, but I’m afraid that might ruin the lovely image!

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