Creative Writing: Building Stories, Skills, and Pride

Hello, dear readers! Welcome back. Let’s start talking and sharing ideas again.

How was your summer? I relaxed more, read more, played the piano more, slept better, and fit in some quality time with my children. I worked just a little bit less, but it’s hard to stop completely. There’s too much I want to share!  Some highlights:
– In June, I attended my college reunion at Bryn Mawr.
– On July Fourth, my family enjoyed a fireworks display in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
– In July, we also took a short trip to Bermuda.
– I put in the effort to wash the car by hand a few times!
– I took a leap of faith (faith in my hair stylist) and got a new haircut.
– My two basic English students and I continued to meet as time allowed.

I also opened a Creative Writing Course and scheduled self-paced tasks for the months of June, July, and August. I created three story openers and asked students to complete them however they wished. I ran into the challenge of keeping everyone motivated to write, but with regular announcements, reminders, and invitations to reach out for support, I managed to get three fully revised stories from nearly everyone.

We ended the summer with short live sessions during which students could read their favorite stories aloud. Not all could attend, but those who did added speaking and pronunciation practice to this learning experience. Just as important was the opportunity to take pride in one’s work.

Sharing was an important component of this writing course. I made it clear from the start that final stories would be published on the discussion board for the group to read and comment on. Final stories, by the way, also allowed me to highlight additional vocabulary in use. Not only did the students pick up new words from their classmates, but they also got a boost of confidence by seeing that their content modeled good language for others.

To extend the sharing possibilities, I suggested that students put their stories in a format they could share with friends and family. Google Slides would be a completely free option, but I presented another one with a much more attractive design.

It was my good fortune to be contacted by the creator of BookBildr in June. Eliza is a creative mother who likes to write stories, and she quickly understood the potential of what she had created: a web-based service that allows anyone to design picture books with images from the public domain. BookBildr may have originally been designed for parents, but there is strong potential for use by schools and educators.

The site is still in Beta, but anytime I ran into a glitch, I reached out for help and received it. I took one student’s story (with her permission!) and jumped into book design. It was fun to select the background colors, the fonts, the images, and page layout.

Take a look at The Summer Library by Iris Bravo in PDF. The story opener is mine, but  Iris took the idea and ran with it.

As I said, I generally enjoyed the process of book design on BookBildr. I’ll admit that there are some items on my wish list:
– automatic page number insertion with formatting choices;
– clearer grid lines that show the vertical and horizontal center lines;
– the ability to reorder pages.

Nevertheless, I’m happy with the final format. PDF copies are very affordable, and BookBildr offers bulk discounts if you’re interested in printing softcover or hardcover books. I see some wonderful uses of this site for ESL teachers:
– a volume of student stories or essays;
– a prize for the winner of a writing contest;
– a teacher-written story that recycles vocabulary;
– a collection of idioms or phrasal verbs with definitions by the teacher and examples by the students.

Feel free to share other possible uses of this book design service in the comments!

Photo by mohammad_hassan. Retrieved from

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for mentioning BookBildr and, most importantly, for using it! I have all the features from your wish list lined up for BookBildr v2, so stay tuned!

    1. That’s exciting news, Eliza. I see a promising future for BookBildr. 🙂

      1. Hello again Eliza.
        Sorry for disturbing you with my silly question last night. Now I’ve managed to work out what I needed to know for a start. And I’ve already registered on your wonderful site. I’ll explore it very soon. Thank you for such a chance for all and sundry. It seems to be brilliant. Xx

    2. Hello, Eliza. I am a newcomer on the WordPress. Thanks to Jennifer for mentioning your resource. If I might ask you could you give me more information?
      Can a registered user create a book using the site’s options for free, or should they pay to the site for every singular book, as long as they don’t need to download PDF version nor do they want it delivered. Thank you in advance. 🙂

      1. Hello Irini. You can use the Contact form on BookBildr for inquiries.
        You can create the book for free, and then you pay depending on what format you want. PDFs are very affordable. I think there are coupon codes for first-time users, too.

      2. Thank you very much for a quick response.

  2. Arun Goyal says:

    Lovely account of summer schedule. Also bookbindr.. Will try it out.
    I am a book publisher myself, mostly paper. Trying to get into digital publishing.

    1. Hello Arun! Yes, BookBildr is an accessible option for PDFs. Digital is the way to go if you want to reach a more global audience. Thanks for returning to my blog. 🙂

  3. Linda Wesley says:

    Looking forward to exploring this site!

    1. Version 2 promises enhanced features. Have fun experimenting!

  4. Hello, Jennifer.
    I’m very happy that I have just found your blog here. Thank you very much for the information about BookBildr website.

    1. Welcome to my blog, Irini.

      1. Thank you too, Jennifer. Xx

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