Using Storybird as a Storytelling Prompt in Libraries

Elizabeth Baddeley

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Storybird is a new social media platform that prompts writing by allowing users to sift through a catalogue of illustrations (both amateur and professional) to select and pair with their stories. Here is the rundown from the Storybird website:

“Storybird lets anyone make visual stories in seconds. We curate artwork from illustrators and animators around the world and inspire writers of any age to turn those images into fresh stories. It’s a simple idea that has attracted millions of writers, readers, and artists to our platform. Families and friends, teachers and students, and amateurs and professionals have created more than 5 million stories—making Storybird one of the world’s largest storytelling communities.”

Pretty neat, right? Essentially, it’s an online community that promotes reading and writing in an online environment popular among the tween-agers.

I first heard about Storybird from my friend, illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley, who you might remember from a few weeks ago. She contributes her work to Storybird and is one of the featured illustrator for Storybird’s new longform format, which was announced last week (see this announcement in Publisher’s Weekly). I had to check it out for myself.

Even though Storybird is becoming a popular tool to use in the classroom, I think it would also be a treasure trove of learning and fun for young people that visit public libraries. If you’re a youth services librarian, here are a few ideas I came up with off the top of my head to encourage storytelling using this versatile site:

  • The simplest way to utilize this service for FREE in the library is to introduce it to your you patrons and their caregivers. They can either create their own accounts or you can create an “educator account”, which would give you access to their account if you decide to develop a program using this site (and would also make managing login information handy).
  •  Make up your own digital picture book for storytime! Storybird is handy if you’re looking for a way to visually add to a song or rhyme or something of your own creation. Relay to audience members before or after reading the story that you created this book on your own using Storybird. If they have older children at home, Storybird is a good way to promote reading and writing there as well.
  • Although most Summer Reading/Learning logs have already gone to print in preparation for the busy summer months at the library, think about using Storybird as a passive summertime program option. Kids can email their stories with the option of having them shared on the library’s blog. And/Or they can be printed and shared with the families who visit the library.
  • Another programming idea is to have kids sign up to participate in creating a community book. After one child writes a chapter, another picks up where the last one left off. Print and add the book to the library’s collection for all to read!

Are you familiar with Storybird? Do you use Storybird in a library setting?



image source: Elizabeth Baddeley


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