Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What better way to encourage a child to read than to help that child create his or her own reading material?
What is Storybird?
Storybird is a website designed to celebrate digital storytelling. The site hosts a wide variety of unique artists, and invites authors of all ages to create an orginal literary masterpiece.
How does it work?
Users are required to create a free account. Upon logging in, the user chooses an artist or theme from the hundreds of available possibilities, and the creation begins! The artwork ranges from traditonal watercolors to contemporary cartoon figures. Once an artist or theme is selected, the user can drag-and-drop images onto blank pages and add corresponding text.
How can I use this at home?
- Read. Before diving into writing, explore the already published Storybirds. These publicly available stories inspire creativity and offer a look at the site’s style and capabilities. Each story opens into a full-screen format and pages can be turned with the click of a button.
- Encourage. Children who experience frustration when reading may appreciate this fun alternative. For especially reluctant writers, allow the child to choose the images for the story and then dicate text to an adult. Seeing his or her story come to life encourages young writers, while removing the frustration that the mechanics of writing often brings.
- Share. One unique feature of Storybird allows multiple users to contribute to the same story. Upon finishing a section, a writer may choose to invite another individual to participate. The story is then sent to the second writer to continue or edit. For young writers, a parent authorization is included. This feature sends an email to the parent prior to the child. Once the parent approves, the child will be given access to the story. Collaborative writing teaches social skills, as well as allowing young writers to learn from one another and share ideas.
- Publish. Upon finishing a story, the writer has several publication possibilities. The story can be kept private, allowing only invited readers to view the finished product. Friends and family are invited to view the story through an email that will direct them to the site. These viewers do not need to create an account. Changing the story to public provides access to any Storybird visitor. Additionally, writers, friends, and family may buy professionally bound and printed copies of the book. Softbound, hardbound, and premium bound versions are available.
How do I begin?
The best way to incorporate this form of digital storytelling is to experiment. Take the time to explore the site and all its available features. Don’t feel pressured to create right away. The best writers learn from each other. As always, when working with young readers and writers, especially those who are reluctant to participate, make the experience fun!