It all started as a simple car ride. Vowing to never have to hear my kids say, “Are we there yet?”, I always do my best to keep them entertained in the car. (Okay, fine. The DVD player helps a little too…) Anyways, this one time, I decided to play a word game with them. Since we’d been playing with lots of superhero figures recently, I figured I’d work with that.
“Let’s play a word game about superheroes,” I said. The two rugrats in the back seat stopped fidgeting long enough to show their curiosity. I then explained that we’d try to go through the whole alphabet and name at least one superhero that starts with each letter. A. Aquaman. Angel. Apocalypse. Those got the ball rolling, soon followed by Batman, Blue Beetle and Beast. Sure, ol’ GeekDad had to help at times, but they were sucked into the game quickly and we still play it all the time. Sometimes it’s with superheroes, other times it’s with Super Mario characters.
But the game got me thinking that I’d love to create one of those ABC picture books, starring superheroes. I didn’t just want to make it for my kids, though. I wanted to make it with them. And that’s exactly what we did.
- Construction Paper (About 15 sheets, different colors)
- Hole puncher
- Yarn (as crazy and colorful as you can find)
- Glue Stick
- A computer, printer and good search engine
- Patience. Lots of it.
Step 1: Calling All Heroes
Collecting the images is your first (and longest) step. You’ll want to get a number of different pictures for each letter. We used one side of a piece of construction paper for each letter. But you could easily use two pages as a spread, which means you’ll need more pics. The easiest way is just to jump online and start searching for superheroes based on each letter.
There’s no harm in admitting you need some help, so a number of online superhero dictionaries came in handy when I was stuck for some letters or additional characters. These were some of the most helpful for me:
Find a good picture of each character (have your kids help pick out which one they like), save them to your desktop and then print them out on a color printer. You may need to do a little work to resize some of the images, but the end result should be a big stack of printed out pictures of colorful, spandex-wearing superheroes.
After they’re all printed out, grab your safest kiddie scissors and have your guys go to town cutting out all these different characters. The big rule I had was that just about anything goes. If they wanted to keep a background on an image, that was fine. If they wanted to just cut out a character’s head, that’s cool too. This is their book, so whatever they want is cool with me.
STEP 2: Punch Out!!
Once you’ve got all your images ready, it’s time to get the book ready. So, prep the book itself by grabbing 13 sheets of construction paper and punching three holes along the left side. (Punch the holes before any real work is done, or else you may end up punching holes over a picture or letter.) Once that’s done, have your kids grab crayons or markers and start writing one letter of the alphabet at the top of each page. Just be sure the color’s dark enough to show up.
My kids also wanted to include a front cover, back cover, title page and a dedication page. So I made sure to include four more sheets in the process.
STEP 3: Sticky Situation
Now comes the fun part. Start making piles of your superhero pictures, grouping them by letter. When you have all the “A” name superheroes together, grab a glue stick and start attaching them to the “A” page of the book. Since our pages were double-sided, we did half the alphabet first, then let those pages dry, before flipping them over and finishing off the second half of the alphabet.
As long as the pictures don’t cover any of the holes in the spine, you’re fine. We tried to cram as many pics as we could onto each page, even if some of the pictures had to come off the paper to do so. It just adds a bit of 3-D magic to the fun.
When all the pictures are glued on and dry, have your kids make a cover. Be sure they include a title and a byline so they can give themselves the proper author credits. A “Title Page” is just another excuse to write the title again and fit a few more pictures. Same goes for the “Dedication Page,” which just gives your little geeklets a chance to act like a real author and dedicate the book to a friend or loved one.
STEP 4: Avengers (and everyone else), Assemble!
The final step is just putting everything together. Literally. Cut out a length of yarn and pull it through one set of holes, before tying it into a neat bow. Repeat two more times and you’re all set. One handy dandy “Superhero ABC Book” ready to read, or be read to you by your little ones. Just be careful turning the pages and always have a glue stick handy to re-adhere any pictures that find their way free.
If your kids enjoyed making it, you can very easily substitute any other theme based on their interests. Baseball players, video game characters, cartoons, food, etc. Good luck!