The ‘We Can’ Story…

Learning to read with a loved one is one of the most beautiful and exciting experiences of life for both the child and adult. In today’s high-tech world, We Can Books offers a healthy alternative to screen time.

When my first daughter Claire was approaching reading age, my father Bob, who had recently retired from the law, wanted to do something special for her.

All his life he had recognized the importance of education and reading. Outside of his career, which of course was focused on words, he was a huge reader and student of world history. These themes fueled his lifelong passion for social justice and opportunity for all.

He fully understood the importance of phonics in learning to read. And he wanted to make this tool even more effective for the young reader. He came up with the idea of combining phonics with the power of association.

His great idea—a familiar image with a simple key word—unlocked all the related words on the page, and helped Claire make sense of the letters and sounds and meanings. And so… We Can Books was born.

A head start in life

Today Claire and Chloe (who’s better known as Dove) are thriving adults. Learning to read with Claire Can and Chloe Can, nestled in my lap (and often their grandfather’s lap) they learned to recognize and sound out the words on each page, as photos of people, animals, and things they knew helped them to decode key words. Not only did they learn to read… but they learned to love to read. Reading became fun.

Their grandfather’s labor of love and imagination gave them a wonderful head start in life. Both girls have built incredibly successful careers which would not have been possible without their confidence in the written word. This head start was so important, and we all have wonderful memories of time spent reading together.

Cut and Paste

He borrowed our family photo albums, sorting through hundreds of photos to find images that Claire could relate to a key word in the phonics word sets he had developed. Then, with the help of a photocopier, a pair of scissors, and some glue, he set about building with his own hands, the first We Can book. Claire rapidly devoured her first book, and soon after, Claire Can 2 and Claire Can 3 completed the series.

By the time Claire had mastered Claire Can 3—the last book in the series—Chloe was coming into the world. And he started creating a unique series of books for her. Only now color printing had arrived!

Create, connect, grow

Back then, the clever use of phonics, old-school cut-and-paste, and ring binders worked perfectly for my children. Today, phonics is still the most effective way to teach children to decode words, but the advent of app-based technology and print-on-demand publishing means that your We Can Books can be full-color, heirloom quality hardback books that your child will want to open again and again. You can make a game out of creating images to go with each word set, or just search for ones already on your phone. Enjoy!


Download the app now and start creating today

Create a gift that will last a lifetime!