So your kid wants to write books? Great! All they need to do now is spend months hunched over their Fisher Price desk refining a book proposal; find a literary agent; wait for the lit agent to find a publisher; go through a million rounds of edits; fight about the cover design; and then, finally go to print. They’re number 4,453,632 on Amazon’s bestseller list! Hurrah!
Or they can use an app and skip steps one through 5. These 5 digital tools let you self-publish any story your kid can dream up (like that classic, “The Tale of the 2-Headed Astronaut Fighting An Airplane Dragon”) into a full-on picture book in a matter of minutes. Go ahead and start putting “published author” on their pre-school applications.
With this easily navigable site, kids jump right in with a blank book canvas where they can add text, stock MyStorybook characters, and scenery — even their own digital drawings (you call those Minions?) The big, colorful buttons to work the tools are self-explanatory enough for younger kids, but there’s also a step-by-step tutorial if they get stuck, delivered by one of MyStorybook’s version of Clippy the Paperclip. When they’re done they can share it online for free, or you can print it out for just $5. Then shove it in the display window of the last Barnes & Noble in town.
If your kid is always talking about “visual hierarchy” and scoffs at shitty kerning in the Berenstain Bears, Blurb lets them be their own fussy graphic designer. Choose from a variety of coffee-table-worthy templates and illustrations. Yes, it’s a little more advanced than some of the others on this list, but the customizable templates and downloadable plug-ins can be handled with a little parental guidance. When they’re done, they can even make a few bucks selling their book through Blurb or Amazon. Now they’re a publishing mogul. (The lemonade stand is just a side hustle.)
The drag-and-drop illustrations and characters available through Storybird look like something out of a Pixar movie. (Of course, Disney will sue your ass, so that Finding Marlin treatment will have to stay on the shelf for now.) It’s a great tool for kids who might need a creative boost. They can choose their favorite image and write a story inspired by it, and add related images suggested by Storybird along the way. When their masterpiece is complete, they can share it with the rest of the Storybird community.
For the 5-year-old hipsters who prefers the weight and feel of a real book (“I was into reading before it went digital”), the Illustory book-making kit gives you the option to publish online, or send the story away to be color-printed and hard-bound for just $29.99 (and, frustratingly, a 4-6-week wait time). It’s also a more crafty writing experience where they can physically write and illustrate the stories using provided toolkit pages — just like their forefathers did in the 90s.
Lulu Jr. Illustory
Ah, the wide world of Amazon self-published novels: Home to dinosaur erotica, Bigfoot fantasy porn, and now, your kid’s book! Don’t worry, it’s not all mythical creature make-out sessions up in this bookseller, and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is totally kid-friendly. They can download the Kindle Kids Book Creator and import their own images to make an illustrated e-book, or (for the budding Stephenie Meyer) test the YA waters with formats for manuscripts uploaded from Microsoft Word.