Raising Summer Readers Tip #11: Stock up on “Barebooks” materials for fun and authentic summer writing

In last summer’s Tip #13 I reminded parents to encourage writing over the summer, and Tip #10 from this summer’s series emphasizes the importance of easy access to writing materials. My absolute favorite source of materials for writing over the summer (and achieving both of these goals) is www.barebooks.com. I have no professional connection to this company nor do I usually recommend specific products, but Barebooks materials have been such a family favorite for the past eight years, especially during the summer when we have more time for extended writing projects, so it seems impossible to write a blog series about raising summer readers and writers without mentioning these. We’ve mostly used Barebook materials for book-making and journal writing, and we’ve enjoyed them so greatly because they look and feel authentic — inspiring kids to become “real” authors who write “real” books*. Which does wonders for nourishing a sense of ownership over writing (and hence increased motivation to write).  My top four products, which we have used extensively (largely during the summers) are the following:

  1.  Chunky Bare Books, which are blank board books that come in various standard board book sizes. These are great for preschoolers and kindergartners, who can dictate stories or write them phonetically and add illustrations.
  2. Hardcover bare books, which resemble the look and feel of hardcover picture books and come in various sizes with and without lines. These are great for writing stories, authoring nonfiction books, and making books that document specific experiences.
  3. Bare Books Plus, which are blank hardcover books with 60 pages that make for great long-term journals (We’ve used them as summer journals, book journals, science journals, and even TV journals.)
  4. Blank board game kits, which come with a game board, game pieces, a blank spinner, blank playing cards, and blank money as well as a blank game box. I LOVE this product (and it’s inexpensive, at $7.95)!

I’ll provide some examples of specific uses in a subsequent post. This tip is merely a nudge to get a supply of these materials now so they are handy when your kids might be inspired to write and create! A few other Barebooks products we have enjoyed include the blank calendars, blank puzzles, and blank comic books. It is fun for kids to write their book or create their game and then use them “for real” — read them aloud at bedtime or play the game with the family. It has also been fun to watch the kids’ library of self-authored books grow in number and quality as they get older, and the kids are proud of their shelf of books in the family library.

The Barebooks section of our family library

The Barebooks section of our family library

Check out Barebooks.com and put in your order!

Our summer Bare Books order just arrived!

Our summer Bare Books order just arrived!






* Of course there are other products out there that work well for bookmaking.  And there are many ways for kids to create their own books, from quick stapled versions to totally crafty and cool, which will perhaps be a later post too. I’m just a big fan of Barebooks!

** As a sidenote, while I’m a huge advocate of easy access to writing materials, I do not keep Barebook materials available for everyday use. These are saved for special projects that kids plan for and want to put forth some persistent effort and good thinking. When kids want to make quick books or games, they are encouraged to use their craft supplies and make their own. This maintains the special-ness (for lack of a better word) of Barebook materials.






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