Saturday, April 02, 2011

l'alphabet de Griffin

When you can't find the exact books you want for your bilingual child, sometimes you just have to write them yourself! You can do something simple like this, by adding photos to a word processing file, printing the pages, and putting them in a binder. Or you can get really ambitious and use digital scrapbooking software to make a photo book with captions! I wanted my toddler son Griffin to have an alphabet book in French that included concepts that were meaningful to him, so I decided to create one myself.

I started by opting to focus on nouns (to keep it consistent) and use photos of him for illustrations. Then I brainstormed things that are important to him that begin with each letter of the alphabet--in French except for the proper names. (This required the dictionary at times!) Finally, I went through 2.5 years of pictures of my adorable little boy to find ones that represented something from each letter. Will you indulge me and let me share? I hope it will inspire you to make a minority language alphabet book for your children!

A is for amour and amourson (my nickname for Griffin--amour plus ourson, which means "bear cub").

B is for bisou (kiss); C is for Cousin Carl and Cheerios (the photo of the latter shows the cereal all over the floor while Griffin looks on open-mouthed as if it wasn't him who spilled them!).

D is for Daddy; E is for expressions.

F is for famille (family), while G is for grand-parents. H is for heureux (happy) and herbe (grass).

I is for insecte (his Halloween costume his first year was a bumblebee) and J is for jardin (gardin). K was a lot harder to figure out; I finally said K is for kangourou and found pictures of him jumping (and added the caption, Griffin adore sauter, Griffin loves to jump).

L is for livre (book) and M is for Maman. N is for natation (swimming).

O is for oncle: Tonton Matt (Uncle Matt). P and Q were also tough, especially since the template for the book had them together on one page with room for only one photo. I ended up with the following: Griffin fouille dans le placard pour quatorze casseroles. (Griffin rummages in the cupboard for 14 pots.)

R is for rire (laugh) and rigoler (giggle). S is for sommeil (sleep) and solitude.

T is for Tatie (Auntie) Elizabeth. U and V were fun to put together: Utah and voyage with a picture of us hiking during a trip to Utah with a five-month-old Griffy in the baby carrier beside a sign that said "Dirt road 75 miles. Travel at your own risk."

W is for Wisconsin, where my parents live and where we travel two or three times a year. X and Y tend to be throw-away letters in alphabet books, so I stuck with the template's suggestion of the cognate excellent and added a Youpie! (yippee!) for the Y. I love the action shot of Griffin on the slide with his hair standing on end.

Can you tell I ran out of energy at the end? I left the template's "zip-a-dee-do-dah" and added a family picture at the zoo and one other of him smiling. The final page shows all the letters of the alphabet and the sentence, "Griffin, je t'aime de la tête aux pieds et d'A à Z" (Griffin, I love you from your head to your toes and from A to Z).


  1. That is amazing..Thanks for should get a scrapbooking award...I know that had to take a lot of time

  2. This is so wonderful. I'd been toying around with the idea of doing an alphabet book for so long and am glad I procrastinated as yours is really inspiring.. I love the idea of using family pictures!
    simply beautiful

  3. Great idea!! It's so cute...I'm sure he's going to love reading it, even when he's bigger.

  4. precious idea & such a keepsake! One of my favorite finds is my Cat in the Hat Dictionary in French! It's a treasure! -diane

  5. I'm blushing from all this praise! Thanks, y'all.

    (I will say that it took me literally weeks to finish--including learning how to use the software--and I don't ever plan on doing something this elaborate ever again! From now on it'll be Snapfish or old-fashioned cut-and-paste. It did make a good Christmas present for my mom, though--she understands French very well and collects alphabet books as a hobby!)

    Diane--I had that book as a child and still read it to my son today! The only thing I don't like about it is that it's alphabetized according to the words in English. Griffin loves the illustrations.

  6. That is just inspiring. What a treasure for Griffin too.

  7. bonjour sarah, your blog is an inspiration! I am planning to raise my child as multilingual. i want him to learn french too, but it s very hard to get french learning resources here in my country. any idea how i can get any baby french books online? and this scrap book is a very good idea. should start making one en francais :D merci. a plus

  8. Merci, Fiona and Cherie!

    So you live in Malaysia, Cherie? I'm not sure it would make sense for you to order books from or other online bookstores (shipping would probably cost as much as the books), but you can check out the resources on my page "French Teaching at Home" (see tab above).

    You could also search on Ebay for used books (I have ordered a lot in French from their Canadian site).

    Or, just read children's books online with Harris! Here's a post that shows a lot of resources:

    Bon courage!

  9. Hi! Sarah!
    Yor book is just as amazing as your blog! Did you make all the pages yourself or downlowd? Where can I find free templates?
    Thank you for your blog and inspiring! I'm russian-speaking and learn my son English, you help a lot.

  10. Thanks, Lena! I used a program called Heritage Makers, which is unfortunately far from free.

    Bravo to you for raising your son bilingually--would you be interested in letting me profile your family, perhaps? I've never interviewed any Russian speakers. Email me for more details!