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Connected: Digital Literacy for Gen Z

Dr. Julie Wood

Julie M. Wood, a former public school teacher and reading specialist, is a nationally recognized educational consultant with a special interest in digital learning tools. Join Julie in 2012 as she shares best practices in using educational technology and media in the classroom and at home.

Digital tools for writing and publishing

June 11, 2013

Children today are writing more than ever. But what are they writing? Is it all as ephemeral as the latest text and the next tweet? Or are they writing anything enduring?

Well. Yes and sometimes. While some of what they write disappears into the ether, it turns out that many children are writing their own eBooks. And there are several resources that can help them publish and share their ideas.

Let's check out a few together.

This visually exciting website is creating a buzz among teachers and librarians. Take the tour to see all that you can do, from reading lavishly illustrated stories (with relatively simple text). Then make your own story through drag-and-drop. A cover will be generated for you, which you can customize. Children can also choose to collaborate on a book (with parent/guardian approval). I especially like their motto: "Make stories in minutes and enjoy them for life."

StoryPanda Books
If you have an iPad, then this app is for you. If not, read on to find other options. StoryPanda is similar to Storybird in that children and parents can read, create, and share books together. Again, many fun graphics are provided as a springboard into storytelling. This YouTube video explains.

KidPub: Books and stories by kids, for kids since 1995
Many free options here! Browse eBooks others have shared; create your own eBook; Convert an eBook (you upload your document and the website does the rest); or sell your ebook. Pretty amazing.

Children who are members of the KidPub Authors Club ($12.95 per year) can post stories to the website's "Never Ending Story," comment on others' work, and more. Children can have their work edited and formatted, and be guided through a creating a full-color cover design (for a fee).

Children from all over the world (with an emphasis on Northern Ireland, Britain, and Europe) mix it up with jokes, "fun food" ideas, writing contests, and a "Dear Ashley" advice column. For writing contests for adolescents (ages 11-18), visit here.

Family photo albums
Maybe you've taken a different approach altogether. Perhaps you're creating original photo books, as a family, using publishing tools on sites such as Apple and Snapfish. If so, how's that going? Does your child help by writing the introductions and/or captions?

Write back! Let us know what you think! Now is a great time to start thinking about how you and your child can collaborate on illustrated books about the upcoming holidays.

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller