by Hilde Garcia
So in addition to writing, I teach writing. There are days where I see many, many stories in my head, dancing around like sugar plums or grammatically incorrect sentences, but the best part of all those stories is seeing my students bring them to life. It almost makes me want to be a kid in today's day and age so I, too, can get published for the bargain basement price of $24.99.
But all kidding aside, many of us are teachers, librarians, parents, people who reach children and inspire them, so here is a mini review of two sites that help kids get their voices out there.
Tikatok is a digital publishing platform that integrates project based-learning and the Common Core while allowing kids to walk away with a hard copy of their book. It's completely interactive and fun, very user friendly and kids can't get enough of it. Three years ago, I had my 6th grade students create original novels in Word and then they cut and paste them into Tikatok's platform.
They also illustrated their pages, laid out their story, created a style that matched their novel. My students mastered editing techniques and created plot and setting. I had a very reluctant group of students who did not want to write and they were the ones that wrote the most. I think they surprised themselves but it was truly the interactiveness of the site that made them want to write.
I mean who wants to write with pen and paper these days when a computer gives you a much better product?
So how much for this platform? The basic subscription to Tikatok.com is $14 for the year and that gives you access to all templates and unlimited student accounts. The digital plus package ($75) gives you unlimited downloads and 15% off hard cover copies in addition to the basic package's options. The premium package gives you all of that, but you also get 25 custom-printed hardcover or softcover books and free shipping on the first 25 books for only $399. For most teachers like me, that later two options are out as our budget doesn't cover pencils, let alone digital publishing, but the first one is very, very doable. And if you can fundraise or use a booster club at school to help you purchase the books, like I did, every kid can take one home.
All the plans have full customer support and access to hundreds of templates and story starters sure to engage even your most reluctant writer. The quality is wonderful and every one of my students was thrilled with their copy. It allowed them to also do a cover, a book flap copy and photo and even a dedication page. The pricing has changed though. The site used to be free and you only paid for the books you ordered, anywhere from $3 for a download to $20 for a hardcover book.
Which is one of the reasons I switched.
Scribblitt™ is a launch pad for creativity where kids grab an idea, and using tools provided and collaboration with other kids, teachers, writers and publishers, take it where they want to go, making their own characters, story and illustrations come to life in a professional product.
It was started by a mom and her two daughters who wanted to collaborate on a book together and this labor of love now helps many more children share their voice.
In a world that is ever changing and one that seems to drown out young people or makes them grow up too soon, it's nice to know that something like this can give them the platform they need to stand up and speak out.
Scribblitt does many of the same things that Tikatok does, but the interface is much cleaner and a bit more grown up, for my very savvy 5/6th graders. It also has one click art where students can create a multitude of images to then later import into their story. They are also adding an option for students to create a comic book- "graphic novel."
It has guest blogs, contests, writing tips, games, and many resources for students to use and encourages students to share and discuss their work as they can send each other messages and even send me ones too.
There is a celebrity corner and currently they are featuring Lois Lowry. Scribblitt promotes a writing community and the graphics are easier to follow. There's even a cool internal message board that only students logged into Scribblitt can access. It's a great safety option.
This site also lets students create note cards with their own images or photos so they can then purchase it and that gives students something personal that can be connected to their book. The notecards start at about $12.99.
When they choose me as their teacher on the site, they receive 15% off of their book. I also love this company's One for One program. A child in need gets a book when you buy one.
I think that's what sold me to try them. If everything else didn't sell me on them before, this ticket item did.
The One Pitfall
The only drawback to either of these sites is the inability to import a document. If you created something in a word program, you have to cut and paste it into their pre set pages one paragraph at a time. And if you are not careful, your text will over flow, so you have to watch the bottom line to make sure you don't go passed it.
If it were an automatic page flow, then that would be ideal. I asked them about it… they are working on it. For now, my students and my own kids, which are so excited to begin using this, will have to master the art of cutting and pasting just right so not one of their precious words gets lost.
If you have or know young people in your life, these are great sites to share. Share them with teachers or people in your writing community. Wish you could do your own fun book? You can. Adult members are welcome. I think I am going to co-author a book with my incredibly funny kids. My daughter's will be about horses, my son's will be a tie between chess and football.