Making Object Books

By: MaryAnn Demchak 

Participating in literacy activities is important for all individuals. However, for those who have severe multiple disabilities that include visual, cognitive, and motor impairments, accessing and understanding written symbols of language can be difficult. Realizing that objects are symbols that can be “read” broadens the options for literacy activities for students with significant disabilities. Object symbols also make it possible to make the book meaningful to the individual by collecting objects from activities in which the individual participates. When making object books, it is important to include a cover, multiple pages that the reader can turn, the written word (and perhaps Braille) on each page with the object symbols.

This tip sheet provides several topics and examples around which you could develop object books. 

Routines: Object books can be developed around routines that the child particularly enjoys, such as bath time. Making choices at bath time (soap, shampoo, cloth or bath mitt, and more. TIP: Use cardboard or heavy poster board for pages placed in a 3-ring notebook. Use small plastic bags to hold some items on the page. You can use Velcro or hot glue to attach objects.

Experiences: An object book could be created around any number of experiences such as this "I Went Walking Book". From simple walks to field trips, object books can be created so that those experiences can be revisited by reading the books. During the activity, objects can be gathered so that the book can later be “written.” The individual can even be involved in “writing” the book. 

Counting: This homemade counting book (email MaryAnn Demchak for photos) shows how objects were used to create a counting book around a Halloween theme. This page shows counting three bats, other pages show counting pumpkins, moons, spider, black cats, and more. Pages reflect counting from 1 to 10.

Academics: This next book (email MaryAnn Demchak for photos) shows an example of writing an object book to conduct a science experiment - growing seeds. Each step of the experiment is written using objects: put soil in the pot, plant seeds, water seeds, etc. with each step represented by object symbols. You can also create object communication cards to accompany a book so that the child can answer questions about the book.

Reading the Book

  • Read the books over and over again with the child; repetition is important.
  • Help the child to find the front of the book, orient the book, etc.
  • Assist the child to turn the pages, use page turners if needed (see our Winter 2008 newsletter for tip sheet on making page turners)
  • Encourage the child to explore each page and read with the child
  • Allow the child opportunities to read alone for the pleasure of independent reading
  • Be creative and think about books for many activities!