Storytelling is a crucial part of education and life in general. We don’t simply see things as a string of events. We tell ourselves our life is a story with meaning and purpose. We see ourselves as the central character of that story even if our vision of that character isn’t wholly accurate. We also tell our students a story each day through our interactions. We tell them both verbally and non-verbally how we feel about them and how much they are valued by us and society as a whole.
That is why I think it is crucial for teachers to understand the power of storytelling socially and physiologically and how digital storytelling can empower students who might otherwise have their voices unheard. That is of particular importance to me as a teacher of students with disabilities since they are the kids whose stories are often untold or are misrepresented when they are. That’s why I really like how Book Creator has added new ways to empower students to share their stories and their voices with built-in accessibility.
Book Creator is probably the easiest way for students and teachers to create digital stories that still function as an actual book. Even better, the books have a number of embedded accessibility features for struggling readers and writers to still be able to participate.
- Choose Platform: Book Creator offers 3 options to create your stories. For iPad, there is the free Book Creator One which allows you to create 1 book with limited features. The $4.99 Book Creator for iPad gives you much more freedom. Then there is Book Creator for Chrome which will function on other Internet-enabled devices. They function fairly similarly except when it comes to final sharing of your books. I prefer using iPads with students because the touchscreen and Apple accessibility features make it easier for my students with disabilities.
- Choose Story Type: You can add text and layouts like a regular story or make it look like a comic. Both can be done in portrait, square, or landscape mode.
- Set Page Background: Click i while on a page to access a number of colors, textures, and styles for pages.
- Add Media: By pressing the + button you can begin to add a variety of content. You can add text, draw a picture, record sound, take a photo, or import other files. You can also add shapes, speech bubbles, and special panels and stickers for a comic book.
- Import: You can import photos from the built-in safe Google Image search, Google Maps, drive files, or files from your device. You can now also embed web content.
- AppSmashing: Since you can import and embed just about any type of file in Book Creator, it makes it very compatible with other apps. That means you can include content from Explain Everything, Adobe Spark, or PicCollage. Check out some more suggested combinations.
- Basic Editing: By right-clicking (or pressing and holding in iOS) you can access basic editing features for elements like copy, paste, and delete.
- Advanced Editing: Select an element and press i to adjust the order, access text features, add hyperlinks, add alt text, or make audio elements invisible while reading.
- Play: Reading with Book Creator is much more full-featured than a regular book. Not only can the book be read automatically, but selecting the setting icon in play mode (gear in Chrome/sliders in iOS) gives you options for voice speed and auto-page turning. You can also adjust the view to show one or two pages at a time.
- Share: In the Chrome version you can print, download it as an ebook,or publish it online. Publishing it online makes it easy to share the link via a webpage, email, or Google Classroom. In iOS you can publish it as a PDF, video, or as an ePub to iBooks. Remember certain formats aren’t compatible with all of the interactive features.
- Manage Stories: The My Books section lets you view all the books in your current library. From there you can play, share, import, copy, or delete books, You can also move them to another library in the Chrome version if you have one of the paid plans. collaborate in real-time
- Collaborate: The online version allows real-time collaboration on books. Simply share your library using a code.
Check out my accessible example book to see Book Creator in reading mode.
As I’ve explained, the built-in accessibility features are what really set Book Creator apart from many other options. Here are some of the options available.
- Auto-Reading: The stories can be automatically read to students and even turn pages
- Built-In Speech to Text: STudents can simply tell their story rather than have to write it out
- Adjustable Text: The appearance of text makes a difference too in terms of size, color, and font. Don’t make it hard to read.
- Alt Text: Visually impaired students benefit from embedded picture descriptions.
- Multimedia: Including pictures, sounds, and video can increase student understand especially for struggling readers. It also allows students to tell their own stories in whatever manner best suits them.
- Hyperlinks: You can link students directly to accessible interactives.
- Switch-Access: Both the iOS and web versions are fully compatible with switch access in reading mode for students with more severe physical impairments.
Luis Perez explains some other ways that you can increase accessibility in Book Creator.
There are a few big updates that to improve Book Creator even more.
- New Page Designs: There appear to be several new options to design your pages in colorful and interesting ways. Check out some design tips.
- Embedded Content: Would you like a web page, YouTube videos, documents, or a Flipgrid directly in your story? Now you can make that happen. It is much more than a book at that point.
- Google Partnership: It is so much easier to use your Google sign-in, share in Classroom, and import content directly from your Google Drive or Google Images.
- New EBook: They have shared a free copy of their new ebook Using Book Creator for Formative Assessment.
The online version provides 1 library with 40 books for free. They offer more features and pricing options for $60 and $120 a year per teacher. Once you create a new library it will start with a tutorial book if you need help or use this basics guide. They also had a webinar series over the summer you can still view. If you’re looking for ideas, check out the 50 Ways You Can Use Book Creator They have also created a guide to help school leaders answer 6 key questions when considering Book Creator. If you’ve mastered these skills you might want to consider looking into becoming a Book Creator Ambassador.
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