There was a great article in The Guardian, the other day, where a Kindergarten student had been motivated to read through the creation of her own book she had written. While she was helped by her teacher, the pictures and story were from her own imagination. The teacher, Anatol Young, explains that
My action plan from 2011 was to promote literacy among my students and the community at large. I feel that if [students] can read they can do anything else. Reading is key. So when I heard little Hunae telling her story during story time I was intrigued by her twist on the classical ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ tale. I knew I had to encourage her, so her teacher and I got together to make it into a book. It was a great project and Hunae has a sense of pride that will motivate her even more I feel.
In my own class, I have seen the powerful motivation that creating an actual physical book can make for a child. As the teacher states,
Caesar said providing a means for students to see their work physically was an incentive for students to continue to excel. She hoped that Hunae keeps her book for life and is able to look back at it and see what she accomplished at such a young age, and be proud of it.
In my own class, each year we have had the students creating books as part of our Poetry Unit. As the students work through the unit, they create poems on a variety of topics. At the end of the unit, students pick their three favorite poems to be included in a class book. At that point, the books are typed into a word document, we add pictures and upload it through the site, Lulu.com. Lulu takes our digital document and creates a book which they then send back to us. We get to choose the cover and style of the book which is a lot of fun. Students got to vote on which cover they wanted and the title for the book. Each student got to have their own book with extra copies ordered to sell to help offset the cost of the books. We also put a copy of the book in the library for others to see. What I noticed however was that the books were a huge motivator for students. They loved to read their writing and the fact that it looked so professional was very impressive to the children. They also were hugely motivated to write for something they knew were going to have a larger, peer based audience.
While the focus was writing, there were huge benefits for the reading side. Students read more poetry for ideas and style, they talked more about poetry concepts and the poems they read and students took the concepts and used them in their writing. The books were very successful and they were great momentos of their year in Grade 3. I still have students talking about it and the books in the library are still signed out long after they were completed. While the cost can be high (especially with shipping), having something that was well made and looked professional really gave the students to motivation to succeed in their reading and writing.
If you are looking for some ways to get started, check out these sites!
- Lulu.com - This is the site I have used before. The site guides you through the whole process of building your book, gives you lots of choices and is easy to use. It may be a little more expensive with shipping but the books look great at the end.
- StudentTreasures.com - This site has several programs available for schools and classes wanting to create books. The site has lots of ideas, lesson plans and resources for teachers to use as well. The site describes their books as
Our 8.5” x 11” full-color book is hardbound under tough lamination and is available in both landscape and portrait format. All pages are of a quality long-life paper. Each book has the author’s name and book title on the spine and features a dedication and title page. We stand by our product 100% and know the quality is unmatched. These beautiful books make favorite reading selections because students love to read books created by their peers. You’ll improve reading skills and promote a life-long love of books. Parents are always impressed with the books their children create through Nationwide Learning student publishing programs. The books make a perfect enhancement to Parents’ night, open house, and parent/teacher conferences. Or celebrate with an Author’s Tea and book signing.
- Storybird.com - This is one of my favorite sites to use. The site uses professionally created illustrations to help motivate students and create ideas for stories. The stories can be used online and embedded on blogs and sites to view online or they can, for a cost be created as actual keepsake books. The site has programs available to create books for fundraisers and a wonderful backend to the site that makes it easy for teachers to work through the writing process and keep track of student process.
Whatever you decide, using writing as a motivator for increasing the desire for reading can be very powerful for students. Check out these sites and ideas to get going on your own programs!