Monday, November 14, 2011

Children's eBooks with ePub

ePub is the standard file format for ebooks.  The software used to create ePub files is popping up everywhere and might soon be as simple as word processing.  (If you're a mac user it already is.)  ePub supports text, pictures and some ePub readers even support video (iBooks for example).

OK, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite tech projects of the year.  Students write short stories and/or children's books.  We use simple software and epub templates to help the students paste their text into the document.  They find public domain photos to use as illustrations (could also team up with the art classes). Then publish them as ePub files so that they can be read, shared, or even sold digitally. Once the books are published, they can be shared with the elementary age classes in your district, parents, grandparents, etc.  Providing your students with an instant target audience that could be reading the stories hours or even minutes later.

Why have your students create ePub files?
  1. Being able to produce and distribute your own book is a paradigm shift as influential as the invention of the printing press.
  2. Teach students they don't need a publisher to become a published author.
  3. Teach the importance of authors and writing (producing vs. consuming).
  4. Give students a large audience for their work.  The pressure of knowing the audience is more than just their teacher should be enough to dramatically improve their work.
  5. Teach students that digital text is and should be much more than texting.

*Sidebar: One of our students wrote her book in Spanish.  It was an ABC book.  I happen to have a 1st grader learning to read in the bilingual program at school.  So I took the book home to her and her read it that evening.  She loved it and I loved being able to show her a book that another student just a few years older had created.

Future epub lessons I'm working on:
  • Mythology projects - students are creating their own myths
  • Student created campus cookbook, complete with pictures and videos taken in class and at home.