I love the look on kids’ faces when they proudly show off a hand-stapled,
crayon-illustrated book that they have created. Kid authors are honing important literacy skills while also building self-confidence and having fun. In addition to the special tradition of physical book creation, there are many opportunities for kids to experiment with ebook authorship as well. And with the popularity of self-publishing, more kids and teens will likely be making their books available to the larger online world. Another bonus: with an ebook, you can share Junior’s authorial skills with your officemate, your aunt in Peru, and grandpa in Schenectady–all with the click of a button.
A teacher and her summer class introduced me to an awesome app, Scribble My Story, available for free in the Apple App store (currently for the iPad only). The kids, aged 5-8, have been using the app to create their own ebooks on the school’s iPads. They write and illustrate their own content, customizing each page using a variety of features.
The app comes with some book templates (e.g., My Vacation) and more are available for purchase. These templates contain pre-written text, with one customizable word on each page. Kids can also create books completely from scratch. Stickers and backgrounds are provided for illustrations (more available for additional purchase), or kids can create their own illustrations using a paint-like function. The two features can also be combined. Once the ebook is complete, there options for sharing such as print, email, or even ordering a bound copy.
Kids are able to practice narrative skills, sequencing, and writing. They are learning and reporting on information through authorship in a way that is more exciting than the age-old book report. One kid showed me a book he had written on volcanoes in which he had researched and reported facts, as well as illustrated his own images of volcanic activity.
You can also make an ebook on Scribble Press’ web site, but there are fewer options. There is less customization, and no option to draw your own illustrations. It is still pretty neat, though! And when your book is complete, there are options for sharing such as print, email, or read in the browser. Scribble Press also has a paid app, Scribble Press, available for $3.99 in the App Store.
You can also create an ebook the Scribble Press web site, but there are fewer options. There is less customization, and no option to draw your own illustrations. It is still pretty neat, though, and will give you an idea of how the process works. And when your book is complete, there are options for sharing such as print, email, or read in the browser. Scribble Press also has a paid app, Scribble Press, available for $3.99 in the App Store.
A great story-making app for the younger set is This Is My Story (And I’m Sticking To It). This app (in the Apple App Store for $1.99) is great for preschoolers, who get to write their own stories in a Mad-Libs style. Kids select from stickers to choose characters for the story, which is then read aloud by a narrator. The simple drag-and-drop is easy enough for little hands and there is enough variety in the stickers to keep it interesting. Another bonus is that this app works on both the iPad and the iPhone. (Although it’s much easier to use on the iPad.)
There are a few different stories to choose from, with settings like a farm and a spooky Halloween house. The text is uncomplicated, and doesn’t make for much of a story, but the variety of stickers should encourage kids to try some really silly combinations. The app also contains a matching game, where kids match the stickers to outlines that fit their shape.
Through play, preschoolers can work on their vocabulary, phonological awareness (the app reads aloud to them), print awareness (i.e., how to “turn the page” in an ebook, text below images), and letter knowledge. The matching game in particular will help kids practice shape recognition.
Giving kids opportunities to experiment with digital authorship and storytelling through apps such as these not only builds literacy skills, it also builds self-confidence, reinforces learning, and allows them to be creative. Whether they are just choosing which sticker to match, or drawing an illustration from scratch, the kids are empowered by creating their own books and stories. With the rise in self-publishing, I wonder how long it will be until we see kids selling their own ebooks on Amazon. There is one about volcanoes that I’d love to buy.