Pros: Kids can create storybooks easily and share them with others privately and safely online.
Cons: Sizing and adjusting some pictures to fit on the storybook pages can be tricky and glitchy.
Bottom Line: Decent quality for a free, simple storybook creation app, it has the extra perk of a private online sharing tool.
You may want to provide some background to students on the classic stories and use them to spark discussion: How do these books differ from the digital books that students create on this app? How are they the same?
In the classroom, it's important that students using this app can easily read one-word instructions (such as Arrange, Edit, Share) and have a good handle on the basic parts of a book. Be aware that StoryKit's interface can be a bit difficult to manipulate and might frustrate some kids. For example, the app allows you to enter more text into a box than will fit in the space above or below an illustration, meaning that some of your words are going to be hidden.
Editor's Note: StoryKit is no longer available.
StoryKit is a free app that allows kids to create their own books from scratch. Released in 2009 as a project based out of the International Children's Digital Library at the University of Maryland, StoryKit books can be uploaded, stored, and shared privately online. Kids can also read, edit, and add audio to a few classic children's picture books on the app. Books are started by tapping New Book on the bookshelf, then following the icons or word prompts through the process. Kids can type in text on each page, attach photos (as long as there are photos stored on the device), take photos, move and resize them by swiping or pinching, or draw their own illustrations and record their own narration. Choose Read, Edit, or Share for completed books. Reading the preloaded stories involves simple swiping to turn pages. Uploading the photos to the secure server is as easy as tapping Share and following instructions, including entering an email address where the story's page link will be sent.
Introducing kids to basic digital book creation and safe online information sharing are clearly the priorities on this simple app. The public domain books that are preloaded (such as Humpty Dumpty and The Three Little Pigs) include very old-school illustrations, sentence structure, and vocabulary ("Humpty Dumpty was a smooth, round little chap with a winning smile, and a great golden heart in his round breast."). Some kids may not like these dated stories at all, while they may add an interesting element to the app for others.
Still, whether their book is fiction or nonfiction, illustrated with photos or drawings, supplemented with voice recordings or silent, kids can get some good practice using technology for digital book creation with StoryKit. As they upload their stories to a secure server and share them privately with parents and others via an emailed link, kids learn a bit about safe, selective online information sharing. Overall, this is a good digital book creation introduction with some interesting children's book history thrown in, too.