Books by You is a make-your-own-book software program. The purpose of this software is to instill a love for stories and writing by leading children through the steps of creating, editing, illustrating, and personalizing their own literary creations.
Books by You was created for children ages 8 and up. Though it was not designed specifically for homeschoolers, it is appropriate for any type of learning environment. Both of my daughters tried this program, and they really had fun with it. My younger daughter, who is only six, needed a bit of help with ideas and typing, but she was very excited about the finished product.
The software program starts out by allowing the child to select from four original chapter book templates. The child then customizes the story by adding his/her own input and ideas as prompted. Award-winning actor and author John Lithgow works as a "story muse," guiding the child through the creation exercises by presenting leading questions and strategies.
The input from the child is woven into the story in surprising ways so that the reading of the final product is every bit as fun as creating it! The child can go back later and edit the book, add illustrations, design a book cover, and incorporate personal details (including photographs) in the "About the Author" section.
The finished product is approximately 75 pages and can be printed out (we chose to do this and bind the books with a comb-binding machine), saved to a PDF for easy emailing, or even published into a professionally printed and bound book through the company. The software also includes book promotion tools, such as posters and press releases.
My girls loved this software. It was a great "extra" to add to our school day, but it was almost too fun to be called "school." I personally wish there were more than just the four story templates. But with each child inputting different ideas, no two books will be alike. At a cost of $19.99, this product is definitely something I would buy again. It would make a great gift for those hard-to-buy-for kids on your Christmas list. And the finished books would make great gifts for grandparents.
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