Two of the six early literacy skills I focus on in storytime are print awareness and print motivation. Like librarians everywhere, as we read, play, sing, talk, and write I want kids to see that print is everywhere and understand how a book works. I also want to get them hooked on stories, books and reading.
Along with print books, I’m always looking for early literacy boosting apps and other digital media that I can review, use in programs, and recommend to families. So when I had the opportunity to review the WePublish app recently, I was interested to see what it was all about. Oftentimes the way to connect a young child with reading is too share with them books that reflect their experience. So the idea behind WePublish, an easy to use app that helps families or multiple children make their own book together, intrigued me.
WePublish is an app that lets kids and adults design and publish an eight page book, creating a new story or retelling a favorite. The app is based on digital collage, an interesting choice.
When creating a new book, each of the eight black pages appears separately. While the bookmaker works on each page independently, all of the pages can be viewed in preview or imposition view with a tap of a button. Design tools include images of common textures that can be cropped and snipped to make shapes, along with a drawing tool (black or white) and multiple fonts. The combination of the new images, text, and accents blends to form a collage on each page. Instead of a bookmaking tool where the sky’s the limit, the few design tools in the WePublish app help keep things simple, allowing young book creators to focus on the elements of the story instead of the various tools.
Book creators can use the device’s camera to capture new images for the texture library. Kids and adults can find interesting textures, snap a picture, and then cut or crop the image to turn the texture of grass into a tree, for example, using one finger and budding fine motor skills. Kids can also make artwork to include in the book, again using the device’s camera and photo library. The artwork can be used as a texture to further manipulate with the design tools, or included as is. The finished book can be printed on A3 or A4 size paper or shared via email (via a parental gate). I used legal size paper (similar to A3) and it worked fine.
This app would fit nicely in an early literacy program for adults and kids that offers enough time to learn how the app works and time to create a book. I’m planning such a program for later this winter. Kids love telling stories and this app helps them share that story in a new way–in a book of their own making. An adult working with one or more young children would make a nice bookmaking team, each member adding to the collaborative project.
While English is the only language currently included, a wordless book could easily be created and have significant value for pre-readers and those who speak a language other than English. Creating images that prompt an oral story can strengthen bonds between family members and build a child’s narrative skills.
I, and a couple other reviewers, did find that editing is limited after a book has been created and stored in the app’s library. Imported images can be moved around, but not deleted. Drawn lines couldn’t be deleted or moved and text cannot be deleted by tapping on it. I was able to slide the text and a texture image off the page that I didn’t want and they didn’t appear in printing, but I figured that out through trial and error. In other cases I had to delete the page’s entire content and start over.
Tips, sample books, and a short video on how to fold your printed, finished book (origami!) are included in the app. The app is free of in-app ads and purchases.
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.This review was originally published on October 28, 2014 at LittleeLit.com. Claudia Haines is a Youth Services Librarian at the Homer Public Library. When she’s not leading young people’s programs at her rural library in Southcental Alaska, she manages collection development for the children’s library, provides outreach services, and helps her coworkers keep the dynamic library running smoothly.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Kids' Own Publishing
KIDS' OWN (AUSTRALIA) INC
12 - 15 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 6 - 10 +
A powerful tool for building children's literacy. WePublish is a digital community publishing app that allows you to write, illustrate, publish and print your own 8-page book.
It is a powerful tool to support literacy development and is aligned to the work of Kids Own Publishing. Children will love the collage tools and handmade aesthetic that reflects the philosophy of Kids Own Publishing.
WePublish is being used in schools and libraries to support children from K-12 develop literacy and storytelling skills. It facilitates parent-children reading and encourages and empowers children through teaching them the publishing process.