About a year ago, my sister shared a keepsake product for children with me. It was essentially a lifebook for your child that would store letters you wrote them once a year for 18 years. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try and make my own version of it – a DIY Lifebook for the Muslim child.
For those of us too busy to scrapbook or not so creatively inclined, this is a fairly simple DIY Lifebook to put together. Although simple, the finished product is heartwarming and something that both you and your child will cherish.
The product I saw had pre-printed pages with ages on them and spots for you to glue on photographs. It also included a little envelope for you to add in your letter, for every age.
I wanted something more personal to give to my children. I’m not very sentimental so I haven’t hung on to pieces of clothing or toys, but I do (and will continue to) treasure their books. I’m the kind of person that loves receiving a present that a lot of thought has been put into and I wanted to be able to give them something from my husband and I that they would hold dear and find comfort in. Making our own version also gave us the opportunity to incorporate Islamic elements that they will benefit from. Keep reading to see how we did that!
What you’ll need:
The wonderful thing about this DIY is that you need as little as a book, some photos, some adhesive, envelopes and a pen. I found some scrapbooks for as little as £6, I used scrapbooking paper that I had left over from my money wallet and Ramadan and Eid bunting projects, some glue dots and other adhesives that I had around the house, and envelopes that I purchased to fit in the scrapbook for as little as £1. I also purchased some number stickers that I used for every page. In hindsight, I wished I had written out the numbers, perhaps with Sharpies, because I didn’t realise I’d need a lot more stickers than were in the pack and now need to purchase more to keep a uniform look across the books.
Make sure your book has enough space for you to put a photo and envelope across from each other, you need two page faces for each age and will be starting from newborn so you’ll need 19 envelopes and 19 photos in total. I have a 2 year old and a 3 year old, so I had 7 photos printed in total. I’m sharing my 2 year old’s book with you in this post – my son’s book is still a work in progress.
How to put it together:
Once you have everything, start by pasting envelopes towards the bottom of every page – leave the page to the right of it blank. This is where your photo will go. I did not centre the envelopes on the page because I included quotes on every page and needed the space to write. If you don’t want to do this, paste your envelope in the centre of the page. I used glue dots to do this and it was really quick to do.
Then, if you’re using scrapbooking paper or would like a border for your photos, cut your paper to size. I printed 5 x 5 square photos and cut out paper squares measuring 5.5 x 5.5 inches. This will give you a little border. Stick that on the page opposite the envelope. I varied the position of the square in my book so that the number stickers were alternating on different sides of the page. You don’t have to do this. Again, I used the glue dots to do this. I much prefer using these so my hands aren’t messy with stick or liquid glue.
Add in your numbers! Finally, if you’re using number stickers, stick them on, otherwise just write them on or draw them in – whatever you’d like to do.
Making it your own:
Nearly there! Now to make it personal to your Muslim child. You could add:
- Things they had accomplished at that age (for instance, at two you could recite Surah An Nas, at three you memorised the duaa for sleeping, etc)
- Funny things they said or did (stories of them at the masjid or on Eid or during Ramadan),
- Islamic quotes
- Qur’anic ayat or hadith
- Quotes from their favourite books
We decided put in quotes from some of their favourite books. The quality of today’s Islamic children’s literature is truly wonderful. Some of our favourites have such beautiful lessons that we want the children to carry with them for the rest of their lives. I did leave some pages blank because I know we will add to collection of books over the years and there may be other quotes I’d like to write in. For now though, here are some of my personal favourites (I will link all these books in a list at the end of this post):
Once you’ve got that done, pop in your photographs and you’re done!
What’s in a name?
It is important to me for the children to know how much thought went into choosing their names. In Islam, we believe that our children have rights over us and one of them is to be given a good name. I truly believe that children live up to their names and the characteristics associated with them, so it is important for parents to consider that when naming a child. I wanted to share with my daughter a passage that I read after her birth that helped us choose her name so I did that on the first page of the book:
I think there is something very special about receiving a gift from your parents that is a collection of thoughts and memories and ultimately, an expression of love that has grown over several years. The letters will all be different and I personally will be keeping a copy of each letter myself, so I can look back at them to see how our parenting journey has evolved over the years. There is so much blessing in reflection and this can be an exercise in remembering to be grateful to Allah for what you have.
Would you do this for your child? Do you have a similar keepsake? I’d love to see what it looks like! Tag me on Instagram or on Facebook or comment below to share!
Islamic books quoted in our Lifebooks:
The Apple Tree – Mariam Al-Kalby
Circle of Sandcastles – Mariam Al-Kalby