HHM Reading Craft Tutorial: A Book Inspired Collage

The following is a guest post by artist and blogger, Denise Cortes, from PearMama.com.

As an artist and a mother with a large family, the way I’ve shared my love of reading with my six children is through art. It’s actually the only way I know how to show them. I feel that incorporating a visual picture along with storytelling is what makes the story really come alive. This makes children eager and excited to read!

I’ve incorporated this powerful learning tool during our homeschooling journey — it’s how I learned to love reading myself. As a young girl, one of my favorite things to do was draw a picture to illustrate my favorite part of the story. I didn’t realize exactly what I was doing at the time, I just knew I loved doing it. I began using whatever was on hand — crayons, markers, pencil, pen and ink. As I grew older and began creating art in earnest, I continued to tell a story in my own way, only now I used paint, oil pastels and cut paper.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and Latinas for Latino Lit’s Festival of Books, my daughter and I created a paper collage that was inspired by one of our favorite books, Calavera Abecedario, a Day of the Dead Alphabet Book.

Do you want to learn how to make your own collage project inspired by your favorite story? It’s easy.

Choose whatever book inspires you. My family loves Dia de los Muertos and we love the artist Jeanette Winter, so I knew we would be inspired by something within the pages. Read a story with your child and then ask, what was your favorite part of the story? Who was your favorite character? Use that as a starting point.

My 9 year-old daughter Maya was interested in the “M” for mariachi. She loves music and singing, so it made perfect sense. Drawn to the colorful guitar, we got started on our collage. If you want to recreate a page in your favorite book, do it. If you want to make up your own design, go ahead and do that. Maya wanted to make a “girl mariachi,” so we got started on our craft.

A collage is the process of cutting paper and assembling it to make something else. In this project, we cut paper to create our own female mariachi singer, complete with a guitar.

I’ve discovered that it’s more manageable for kids to draw the shapes with a pencil first, and then cut them out with scissors after. I encouraged Maya to sketch her guitar shape and then we flipped it over so you couldn’t see any pencil lines after we cut it out. It can be a challenge, but kids need to practice drawing in order to become better at it. Once Maya could see her guitar taking shape, she was excited!

The next step is cutting out shapes, gluing them down on paper and repeating the process until you make the design come to life.

While we were creating this collage, we talked about mariachis and the kind of music they make. I explained to her the tradition of mariachi music at family celebrations like weddings and quinceañeras and the growing number of female mariachi singers. We even listened to a few songs on Pandora, so she could get an idea of what the music sounded like.

Maya needed some help cutting a few of her pieces, and of course I obliged. I also helped her sketch the shape of the calavera.

Once all of the main shapes were down on paper, it was a lot of fun to add the special touches, like guitar strings, stars, and flowers in the calavera’s hair. You can apply these same steps to your own collage.

I love the way it turned out, don’t you?

Maya spent special attention to the skirt on the mariachi. You can tell she spends a lot of time sketching fashion designs with her little sister.

This project is a great way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your family. It gives parents and children the opportunity to share a love of reading with their family, as well as teaching them to tap into their creative side.


Denise Cortes is a native of Southern California. This Latina mom loves to share stories about life with a large family and how she made it through six pregnancies, four home births, extended breastfeeding and now, homeschooling. Denise is passionate about the creative spirit as a means of cultivating self-worth in children. Denise blogs at www.pearmama.com, where she shares fun DIY projects, modern art for kids, and her children–four sons (16, 14, 13, & 11) and two daughters (8 & 9). Denise is also a regular contributor at BabyCenter andMamiverse. You can also follow Denise on Pinterest , Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

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