Wednesday, February 11, 2009

*** DIY Make Your Own Choose Your Own ***

My husband and I agreed to make each other our Valentine gifts this year, so, after filtering through the zillion crafty ideas in my head (99.9% of which were girly), I decided to make him his own, personalized, non-girly Choose Your Own Adventure Book (please note the very non-girly karate pose, ninja eyes, spooky mask and weaponry...)

CYOA books were really a big huge deal when we were growing up in the 80s. For those of you who are too young to remember them (grr...) here's how they work: at the end of the first page of the story, the reader is given choices (ex: "if you open the door, turn to pg. 14" ... "if you choose to ignore the door, turn to pg. 52.") The story continues on different adventures based on the choices you make. You can reread the book multiple times and by making different choices, wind up with different endings. Sometimes you end up a millionaire, discover pirate treasure, or get run over by a rhino.

For my husband's book, I scanned an old CYOA book and switched out a couple of things (adding his name, and a photo of his head.) Please note how goofy it looks. Go for the goofy...that's part of the charm! Then I printed out and glued the altered cover onto a little cheap notebook with blank pages. Next came the time consuming part: actually writing the book. I used real-life main characters (his childhood friends, family, pets, ME, etc.) and of course included the requisite boy fantasy stuff (superheroes, cowboys, aliens, martial arts, and so on.) With CYOA books, cheesy is good, and since I'm naturally corny, coming up with the storylines was really pretty easy.

Besides Valentine's day, you could whip up a custom CYOA for a birthday, Christmas, or Father's Day... (you could even get your kids involved with the storylines...children are the best resource for imaginative ideas...)

Although this is a fun, silly gift for grownup 80s babies, I can also see this being a really sweet gift for children...
It could also be a creative school project for older kids. Teachers can easily tie-in whatever topics they need (4th grade example: write a CYOA about CA mission life.) In the process, kids will not only be learning about the given topic, but also writing, reading, using their imaginations, organizational abilities, & focusing on the importance of making wise choices :)

1. Start the project way in advance. If you procrastinate, your head & hands will hurt. Ahem.
2. Add illustrations. The old books used simple line drawings. The goofier, the better.
3. Remember to be ridiculous (think yetis, Russian spies, time travel...)
4. Store your in-progress work in a big Ziploc bag (to avoid possible spill catastrophes.)
5. Have fun! This project is a great excuse be silly... embrace your inner kidlet :)

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