Let's get one thing straight. We are all authors. We all have a story to tell, and we all have the means to tell it.
Maybe your students don’t think so. So how do we change that?
We want to help turn your students into authors. Let’s make this month #BeAnAuthor month.
In this post we have all the ideas and strategies you’ll need to help with the mission to engage reluctant readers and empower your students to write. Plus, read all the way to the end to learn the SECRET SAUCE to motivate your students to give their best effort when writing!
A couple of things to keep in mind. You may already think that writing is all about English Language Arts, and if you’re, say, a math teacher you may have switched off already. It’s true, Book Creator does support the 5 core facets of literacy - reading, writing, speaking, listening and vocabulary, but that doesn’t mean writing a book is only something you do in ELA! A book is a fantastic way to demonstrate understanding in any subject area.
If you’re still not convinced, check out some of the ideas in the books below, or check out our resources hub spanning the curriculum.
How to engage reluctant readers
Do you have students who show no interest in reading? We must be aware that their reluctance to read could be for multiple reasons - perhaps they are having difficulty with particular reading skills? Or are they disinterested in the reading material?
Wednesday 2nd March is Read Across America Day, an event established by the National Education Association (NEA) to promote a love of reading. You can run activities on this day to kick off a renewed interest in reading that will hopefully last all year. The NEA has some great ideas you can explore on their website. If you’re interested in the book tasting idea - check out this extensive guide from a Book Creator Ambassador.
It’s also Read an ebook week from 6-12th March. And digital books is something we know a thing or two about. But were you aware of how Book Creator started?
The Book Creator origin story
Like all the best superheroes, Book Creator has an amazing origin story. Did you know that the app was created to help a reluctant reader? In 2010, Dan Amos and his wife were trying to support their son, who was struggling to read the books provided by his school.
Dan’s son was diagnosed with dyslexia. This meant the curriculum-based books that his classmates were reading were not suitable for his reading level.
With a distinct lack of reading options available, Dan and his wife came to a decision that would change the course of their lives! They decided that instead of trying to find reading material he would engage with - why not create it themselves?! And so Book Creator was born. Dan built the app himself and before long they were able to create books on subjects that their son would could get excited about, and his reading subsequently improved.
How Book Creator can support your reluctant readers
One of the things we try to impress with Book Creator is that reading isn’t just about words. As teachers, you have the power to create differentiated materials for your students—combining text, audio, images, video and shapes to tailor the reading experience.
The numerous accessibility features built into Book Creator mean that you can take advantage of tools such as text to speech, the Open Dyslexic font for reading, and more. Multiple Means of Representation is an important concept in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and Book Creator has been built with this approach in mind. If you’d like to learn more about this, check out the book Using Book Creator for Differentiated Learning.
A Reading Pack to get you started
This pack includes:
Inspiration for reading
If you’re looking for books to inspire reading, you could search through the library of books we have at read.bookcreator.com, covering various grade levels and subjects.
Turn your students into authors
Be An Author month isn’t just about reading, as you might expect from the name! But why is this so important? We believe there is no better expression of literacy than when students are able to create content from scratch. The prospect of authoring a book is an exciting one for kids. It is a familiar concept, and a fantastic way to demonstrate understanding.
If we come back to the importance of motivating reluctant readers - for those learners who don’t find the reading materials interesting - let’s encourage them to write their own books instead! Imagine a whole class of kids writing books for each other on subjects they will all find interesting.
And in other subjects, where the textbooks just won’t cut it, why not write your own instead? That’s what this math class did…
In March, there are a number of special days coming up that you can use to encourage and celebrate writing.
World Book Day - 3rd March
World Book Day is already a huge event in the UK & Ireland (note - UNESCO has also appointed 23rd April as World Book Day, on account of the famous authors who were born or died on that day - so you could wait until then to celebrate too).
Use this day to kickstart a month of reading and writing activities. In the UK, it’s best known for kids dressing up as characters from their favourite books - this is a fun and engaging activity that everyone can get involved in.
You might expand on this with other activities such as arranging a video call with an author, creating a soundtrack to a reading with fun sound effects and music, or making a video book trailer for your favorite books.
The World Book Day website has loads of resourceful ideas you can draw upon.
World Storytelling Day - 20th March
We all have a story to tell. Let’s use World Storytelling Day to write it! Interestingly, this day originated as a celebration of oral storytelling, but has evolved to welcome all forms of storytelling. And of course, you can use words, pictures, video or audio to tell your story in Book Creator.
Here are some ideas:
Writing prompts ✍️
You don’t have to look hard to find writing prompts on Google. Here are some of our favorites:
- You’re given $1,000 - what do you buy (and why)?
- Write a story using these 5 words: apple, boat, dinosaur, football, piano
- If you could choose any super power, what it be and why?
- Write a story about going on an adventure with your best friend
- If you could build your dream house, what rooms would it have?
You may explore a different route and use drawings as the writing prompt. That’s what Book Creator Ambassador Mira Campbell did - see below.
Run a competition 🏆
If you want to ensure engagement, why not run a competition with a prize? There are a few things you’ll need to consider here but it’s well worth the effort. If you need help, follow our guidance on running a competition.
Set a theme 🦖
Setting a topic or theme will help your students focus on the writing. This is true whether you are running a competition or not. You could use the writing prompts above, or you might mix things up by setting a theme of alternate endings to well known stories, a choose your own adventure book, or a town/state/school/class showcase. You could specify a particular genre such as romance, science fiction or horror.
In 2020 we ran a competition with the theme ‘A Better Future’ - and received over 100 entries from 22 different countries. This was an inspirational theme and it was fantastic to see how kids around the world envisaged a better future for themselves and the Earth.
Books beyond words - comics 💬
Did you know Book Creator has a built-in comic book builder? As we said before, books aren’t just necessarily about words. A comic book could be the perfect way for your students to express their story. Comics can be particularly useful if you’re asking kids to write a timeline of events, or you want to explore thinking routines which capture what’s going on in the minds of the protagonists. Apart from that, they are just so fun! You can make them come to life with captions, speech bubbles and stickers.
Check out these examples from our 2018 comic competition:
Make a great cover for your book 📕
The saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but a great cover can be an important part of the creativity process. So let’s make sure the cover of our book shines and tempts the reader to open the book! You can use our free integration with Canva to design a great looking cover for your book, or use one of their many templates to help you get started.
Make sure the author gets credit 🙋♀️
One thing we always recommend is saving space at the beginning or end of your book for an ‘About the Author’ page. This really personalizes the book and gives your students a chance to be creative and get their moment of glory.
Don’t forget you could use one of our template themes to help with this - they have the ‘Author’ page template built in.
World Poetry Day - 21st March
The day after World Storytelling Day is World Poetry Day! This is a UNESCO appointed day to celebrate “one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity”.
We’ve seen Book Creator used to great effect for poetry over the years, including a 163-page poetry compilation with 35 classes from 22 states/countries worldwide and a collection from a 6th grade class made entirely on iPads. Here's a library of poetry books to give you some food for thought.
If you’re interested in the Haiku form of poetry, check out this remixable Haiku poetry template that you can add straight to your library and use with your students. 👇
Looking for more ideas? Women’s History Month
There is a particular focus on women in March with National Women’s History Month, International Women’s Week is 6th -12th of March and it’s International Women's Day on March 8th. We’ve gathered together some example books that you can use in your reading, research and as inspiration for writing.
Also included in the library is a special Activity Template created by Holly Holland at Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida. There are nine options presented on a choice board for students to showcase their learning on Women's History Month.
Remember, Book Creator isn’t just for a one-off project.
You can use Book Creator across the curriculum on a daily basis for journals, portfolios and more.
Suffice to say if you need EVEN more ideas you can head over to our resources pages where we cover ideas and tips in multiple subject areas, including math, science, social studies and art.
Want to dive in straight away?
Jon Smith and Catherine Cappiello ran a special Be An Author Month webinar where they delved into the resources and ideas outlined in this post. Take a watch below and get hands on with Book Creator 👇
And finally... the secret sauce to student engagement
We promised to share the secret of getting students even more engaged in reading and writing. We think about it like this—when kids create work that they know will be read by their teacher, they do enough to make it ok. But tell them that their work will be published for the world to see, and suddenly you get their attention!
By sharing their creations beyond the classroom, you will see their motivation increase and their effort double. Publishing online is simple and safe with Book Creator, and you’ll get the added bonus of being able to see and track where and how much each book has been read with our in-built analytics. Try it for yourself, and be warned - you might find your students working through recess…
— Book Creator Team (@BookCreatorApp) March 1, 2022
So. That’s the secret sauce we promised, tried and tested by our very own Teacher Success Manager Jon Smith (honestly, if you haven't yet heard his story, grab a coffee, and take 20 minutes to watch it - it's fantastic!). We’ll give the last word to him, as he presents, in just 5 minutes, exactly what Book Creator can do for you, in the style of Dr. Seuss, nonetheless.
Take it away, Jon.
Reading a good book changes everything. Tina Tramontano, Hindley School, read Refugee by @AlanGratz to her 4th graders. Ss were inspired by true stories of refugee families & took action! TY Jackie Heyde, our fab librarian! @BookCreatorApp https://t.co/zszMjJVsYi #BeAnAuthor 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/c4v9BNkveb— Dr. Joan McGettigan 🌻 (@drmcgettigan) March 10, 2022
I had so much fun showing Mrs. Forbes the @BookCreatorApp for her upcoming poetry unit. She was so excited to get started, we let kids explore that day. Students loved that they would become ebook authors. #BeAnAuthor #CCISD1to1 @ClearCreekISD @ccisdtech pic.twitter.com/Z2rfmBfn50— Melissa Chambers (@MelissaCLTC) March 9, 2022
We enjoyed reading our non-fiction books on Book Creator to Mrs. Donlon’s first graders. What a great way to celebrate reading and writing during Read Across America Week! #wearechesternj pic.twitter.com/oA9J8x4Jd5— Kristen Simmons (@ksimmons_nj) March 3, 2022
Gr 5/6 Ss did a Media Lit/Health & Writing proj in #librarypartnership. We used @bookcreator's magazine template to create healthy eating covers! Read class book w/ the magazine stand worthy covers! Don't miss team bios! https://t.co/El8HrRicLN #BeAnAuthor #bookcreatorambasador pic.twitter.com/Z39HUFGN1n— Mira Campbell (@CampbellMira) March 8, 2022
Dan Kemp is the Marketing Director and has been working here since 2013. One of Dan’s favourite jobs is hearing the stories of how Book Creator is used to bring joy to classrooms all over the world, and he happily retells these stories on these pages!