Kathleen Morris asked me for some suggestions for free tools students can use to create picture books. She was looking for alternatives to Storybird which has recently announced some changes to their pricing structure.
Selecting and arranging pictures on a page can be a good way to help students generate ideas for writing stories. All five of the tools listed below have that capability.
WriteReader is one of my favorite writing tools for elementary school students. WriteReader is a free service that students can use to create multimedia ebooks. Students can select pictures from a large gallery of drawings, including Sesame Street drawings, and place them on pages in their books. Directly below each image there is space for students to write and for teachers to add corrections. Here's my tutorial on how to use WriteReader.
Picture Book Maker allows students to create six page stories by dragging background scenes into a page, dragging in animals and props, and typing text. All of the elements can be sized an positioned to fit the pages. Text is limited to roughly two lines per page. Completed stories are displayed with simple page turning effects. Stories created on Picture Book Maker can be printed and or saved as PDFs.
Book Creator is a popular tool for creating multimedia ebooks. It can be used in your web browser for free or you can purchase the iPad app to use it. Students can add pictures, drawings, and videos to their pages. Drawing tools are built into the service. Students can even add their voices to their ebooks. Watch my tutorial to see all of the ways that students can add content to their Book Creator ebooks.
Alphabet Organizer is a great little tool from Read Write Think that students can use to create alphabet charts and books. The idea behind Alphabet Organizer is to help students make visual connections between letters of the alphabet and the first letter of common words. In the video below I demonstrate how to use this tool.
MyStorybook is a nice online tool for creating short storybooks. MyStorybook provides blank pages on which you can type, draw, and place clipart. Your storybook pages can also include pictures that you upload. After signing into your MyStorybook account you can start creating your first book. Click on the text fields to edit any existing text in the title and author fields. You can add more text by clicking "text" in the editing menu. To add a picture of your own select "items" in the editing menu. At the bottom of the "items" menu you will find an option to upload your own images. MyStorybook provides lots of stock imagery that you can place on a page or use as the background to a page. If you want to branch-out beyond text and images, use the drawing tools on your pages.