Creating a life storybook: Storydo

Creating a life storybook. Child looking at a book

Having an accurate and age-appropriate life storybook is really important to help our children understand their birth history. The standard of life storybooks provided by local authorities varies massively. Some are brilliant. Some are completely inadequate.

We’ve been really lucky because both of our girl’s books are brilliant. They contain a fair amount of detail and explain things in a child-centred way. But the facts are there for them to read when they’re old enough to understand them

Both of our girls are growing up knowing that they are adopted and that their family doesn’t just include the people they see regularly. Our eldest has always been interested in this. She’s asked questions from the start and continues to now.

Our youngest is completely different. She’s not been interested in learning about her birth family. She likes looking at photos of herself when she was a baby, but she hasn’t been curious about anything else.

When I was approached by Sonja from Storydo to see if I’d be interested in creating a book for our youngest to help explain her birth history, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try a different way of explaining things to her. I was kindly gifted the book once I’d created it.

Creating a life storybook

What is Storydo?

Storydo is a groundbreaking platform that allows all types of families to tell their unique stories and celebrate their family, simply by answering questions and uploading images.

The bespoke, hardcover, A4 book captures your child’s story and includes all the people and places that are important in your child’s life. It’s suitable for all types of families, from solo to nuclear to blended to adopted, celebrating their unique stories.

How it works

I started by choosing a design and then answered questions to build up our daughter’s life story and uploaded photos that fit the text. Some of the questions are open-ended and others can be changed to suit your child’s story better. I found the prompts and questions helpful to help me include all of the important information that was relevant to the section.

The Storydo Bookbuilder ‘writes’ text based on the answers and creates pages that you can edit as you go along. Although you have to answer the questions, there isn’t a lot to write so don’t worry about needing to be able to add in a lot.

There are thousands of possible pathways through the book depending on each family’s setup, so it really can tell each unique story allowing parents to decide what they would like to share.

The benefits of Storydo

There are many companies offering photobooks where you upload the images, add some words, and then your finished book is posted to you. Those types of books are a useful tool for life story work, particularly for younger children as they will enjoy looking at the photos and you can explain who is in them.

Creating a life storybook

But as your child gets older, they need something more than that to be able to understand their birth history and the roles people like foster carers played in their early life.

Storydo books are designed to strengthen children’s identities. They also validate each child’s lived experience and family set-up by featuring them in a book. Research suggests that this can help children with self-esteem.

The language used has been created using experts to explain the more complex subjects such as adoption, bereavement, and gamete donation. The books are designed to explain and normalise less conventional family setups such as single, same-sex, and blended, and show that families are made up in lots of different ways. 

My experience of using Storydo

I found creating our book an easy process and added the photos as I went. If you want to be more organised, you could create a folder with images before you start. It took me a couple of hours to create in total, and then I read back through it several times and made a few tweaks.

Our youngest is five and is starting to show more of an interest in her birth family. We’ve read through the book several times with her and it does seem to have piqued her interest more than her “official” life storybook. She’s asked more questions, particularly about birth mum. It will be a useful tool as she gets older to explain the important people in her life.

You can get all the details about creating your book from Storydo’s website. I think it’s a great way of helping all children understand their history, not just for adopted children.

Family setups can be complicated and confusing for children. So being able to see their story in pictures and simple text can help them understand how their family came together.

Creating a life storybook. Child reading a book

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