Children are natural storytellers—every time they engage in imaginative play, they are creating stories and acting them out. When it comes to communicating their stories with others, children who spend a lot of time with books have a clear advantage. At least, that’s how I see it from the reference desk. One of my favorite things to spot is a pre-reader who opens a picture book and invents her own narrative.
Unfortunately, children don’t always see themselves as storytellers. When my daughter started kindergarten last year, she was tasked with creating a picture that told a story. When I went in for parents’ night, what I found was a scribbled-over picture, accompanied by the words “I am not good at it.” While proud of what was likely her first full written sentence, I was saddened to learn that she didn’t think she could tell a story. Especially since, six months earlier, she and I had created this:
Her story, The Whole Wide World, was created using the collaborative storytelling website Storybird. Storybird offers sets of artwork from a variety of artists, and allows users to arrange the images and add text to create their stories. Writing stories based around art can lead to some pretty creative results, and its simplicity makes it accessible and appealing to all ages.
For those who are ready for a greater control and more options, there are sites like StoryJumper that really open up the possibilities. With StoryJumper, users can arrange visual elements however they choose, including the background, images, and text. The image library includes a variety of themes, including the ocean, modes of transportation, outer space, and others. The art in all the sets is stylistically similar, so users who mix and match themes can still create a cohesive picture.
Introducing our library users to interactive tools like Storybird and StoryJumper can bring out the storyteller in any of the children we work with, whether they’ve realized their potential as authors or not. A blank piece of paper tends to be intimidating, so why not make it fun?
Manchester City Library