Over the past sixteen months of The Book Chook's cyber-existence, I've shared lots of ideas for incorporating activities into everyday life to develop literacy. Today, in honour of Day 2 of the Share a Story Blog Tour and its theme, Literacy My Way, I want to list a range of exciting online places where kids can express themselves through story. As I said in What's the Deal with Online Publishing? "sites like these give a voice to young people and allow them to reach out to a global audience. By sharing their stories, they enable us to gain a greater understanding of some of the problems facing kids today. By sharing their stories, I believe young people contribute to making our world a better place, and help to shape their own futures."
For those of you who are new to The Book Chook blog, it might be the first time you've encountered online story editors, so, as well as a brief comment, I will embed links to my earlier reviews of them. For others, I hope it might be useful for you to have these in one handy place, and for you, I will embed the site url, and attempt to categorize them.
Many of these websites have a gizmo (chook-speak for technology far beyond my understanding) that enables you to write your words, create accompanying artwork, and publish a little book. Kids can often read others' creations there too. Reading the stories other children have written is wonderfully motivating, and encourages a child to write for an authentic audience. So much more real than churning out a description of a family holiday to be read and corrected by the teacher! Reading and writing are inextricably linked, and great writing is fuelled by lots of reading.
Some websites allow kids to create their own cartoons or comics, others enable slideshows and posters. All of them are free (or free at the basic level) and most come with The Book Chook Feather of Approval. This means they are simple enough for a featherbrain like the Book Chook to use!
Create Stories Online - with Digital Books
Storybird/Book Chook review - this is probably my favourite of all the online story makers, because it allows us to use artwork from wonderful illustrators. Here's my new Storybird book, Princess Sophie. (You might need to wait a little for it to load - the illustrations are worth it!)
StoryJumper/Book Chook review - you can use your own artwork or photos to create books, or create with the site's own. If you want the book printed, you must pay. It also offers story starters to prompt your writing, very handy for kids who stick before they start.
Little Bird Tales/Book Chook review - has a free trial you can use. It offers the feature that you can record your voice too.
Bookr/Book Chook review - create and share your own photo book with Flickr images. This is very simple, and best if you have very young kids who want to make a caption book.
My Story Maker/Book Chook review - the Carnegie Library offers this little digital book creator. Cute. It has a helper to make suggestions for you.
Pinky Dinky Doo- only half a feather because the voice and music give me ear worm! Its repetitive nature and text highlighting will help younger readers though.
My post about Using Toys as a Springboard for Writing has some other ideas you might like.
Create Stories Online - with Movies
xtranormal/Book Chook review - I haven't used xtranormal's State, because it's for PC, but I've used the free version of xtranormal. It's a little trickier than the story editors above, but lots of fun to play with camera angles, write scripts, and choose your actors etc. Making a little movie to tell a story - wow!
ZimmerTwins/Book Chook review - based on TV show characters, the editor is one of the simplest around. Drag and drop features to make your own little movies.
Kerpoof - I haven't had time to play with Kerpoof much yet, but Kelly Tenkely of ILearnTechnology blog loves it, and that's good enough for me. Not just movie creation at this site, but cards, books and drawing too.
D'volver/Book Chook review - very simple to use, unusual characters to choose from. Young teens would like it I think.
Create Stories Online - with Comics and Cartoons
Toon Doo - my current favourite place online, Toon Doo is so handy when you want to create a quick cartoon. To celebrate Literacy My Way, I've tried to make all the pics for my own articles this week at Toon Doo. You can also make comic books, and the site has a range of other art editors. Such a cool and fast way to express yourself and get a digital result you can email, embed, keep private or share. Two feathers for sure, and a review soon too.
Cartoonist at Creaza/Book Chook review - this is a little more complicated, but very cool. Cartoonist is just one of three features at the Creaza main site, which includes a movie maker. Cartoonist supplies the art work for you to arrange, space for your text, and a simple enough interface to win that coveted feather of approval!
Make Beliefs Comix/Book Chook review - doesn't have as many bells and whistles as more modern technology but is still a great place for kids who want to do some quick writing and use fun illustrations.
Myths and Legends/Book Chook review - again, this one isn't the most recent editor, but it has all the ingredients kids need to make interesting stories in digital comic book form.
Professor Garfield Comics Lab - log in to save your work. Review coming.
Create Stories Online - with Slideshows
PhotoPeach/Book Chook review - I love PhotoPeach. It's easy, it provides a little quiz option for your slide shows, you can add text to make them little digital books, and it's been around long enough to make me think it will last. Offers music free for you to use. Feather of approval for sure.
Photoshow/Book Chook review - no feather of approval. Similar to PhotoPeach, with added cute stickers, so originally I loved it. BUT they don't store your story longer than a month. I understand these sites are businesses, and need to make money. It's just I prefer the generous ones who let us use the basic product for free, and keep it going.
Stupeflix/Book Chook test - another slideshow maker, with an option of including minimal text. I like the look. You can upload to YouTube to get the embed code. I haven't posted about it yet (end of week probably), but I've used it, and it inspired me to write some words about the photos I chose. Kids who are daunted about writing "a lot" might enjoy taking their own photos and creating short text to accompany them. You need to source your own music for this one.
I've read good things about Flixtime but haven't had a chance to
Express Yourself through Words and Pictures Online
Story doesn't have to be in the form of a narrative. We can use words and images, even music, art and video to express ourselves online, and so can our children.
Glogster/Book Chook review - make a poster online that can include text, images, music and video.
Notaland/Book Chook review - like Glogster, perhaps simpler. Same guys that produced PhotoPeach. They call it an online whiteboard. I call it a poster.
PicLits/Book Chook review - a great way to encourage kids to write poetry.
There are many more, but I've tried to stick to my favourites here. I hope you'll encourage your kids to play with these tools. It's a great way to enjoy being creative, and develop literacy skills at the same time. Technology is so inherently motivating for kids, it might just be something that gives them a reason for writing.
If you know spaces online I didn't mention, that you think inspire kids to share stories, I'd love you to post them in the comments, or share the link to your own post about them.
(This post is a Book Chook contribution to Literacy My Way, Day 2 of the Share a Story - Shape a Future blog tour, March 2010. Find other wonderful contributions to Day 2 at this post . Find out more about the tour from this post, or get ongoing updates at the Share a Story blog. Cartoon made at Toon Doo.)