Scribble Press: A Brief History

Scribble Press opened its doors on Mothers Day 2008 but really began its life on a cross-country plane trip during the summer of 2006.  On that airplane ride two entrepreneurs, who also happened to be mothers and both passionate about books and literacy, cooked up a plan to create a destination where kids could write, illustrate and then publish their own books.

Over the next two years we brought together a team of people to bring the idea to life – bookmakers, printers, architects, designers, MBA interns, real estate experts, educators, artists, sourcing experts, lawyers, accountants, kid testers, friends and family – a mind-boggling number of people touched the idea and brought something to make it richer.  If we were to put together an acknowledgements section at the back of this book, it would be hundreds of names long.

The printing industry people said we were crazy.  It’s impossible to make money delivering a printed book in 20 MINUTES, they told us.  And maybe, after all, those people were right – but we were determined to press forward anyway.  We wanted to create “Build a Bear for books” and had visions of kids in malls across the country spending their time creating stories instead of buying toys.

May 10, 2008 came and went in a blur of ribbon-cutting and packed crowds enjoying the hundreds of sharpies in the marker wall and the cash register merrily ringing up the sales.  When we closed the doors at 6pm, exhausted, we had produced and delivered over 100 individually printed and bound books, with a bigger stack left to make the next morning.  We were off and running.  And the public response was fantastic – one of our early reviewers said, in what remains my favorite quote, “Scribble Press sells joy.”

Over the next several years we faced challenges and opportunities as we grew the business.  The mall space was small and the parking was terrible, so we moved locations.  The economy tanked in September 2008, sending a chilling ripple across the entire retail industry, so we scaled back our revenue projections.  In 2010 we planted a flag in New York City, realizing that a colder climate and denser urban area might be more suited to our concept.  And when the iPad first appeared in May 2010 many of us saw that it provided the perfect vehicle for creating books.  So we made our next investment not in new stores, but in an iPad app.

Today Scribble Press for iPad has been downloaded over 200,000 times and has a half million sessions per month.  The number of people around the world who have found us on the iPad is more than ten times the total number of customers who have ever walked through the doors of one of our retail stores.  Every day, classrooms around the country and the world are using Scribble Press to publish stories, write science reports and show off their knowledge of math and history.

Scribble Press – the retail experience – will celebrate its last day as an independent location on June 16, 2013 – which happens to be Fathers Day.  In its five year history Scribble Press has printed over 50,000 books and hosted over 500 bookmaking birthday parties.   Countless children have become published authors and felt the pride and confidence that comes along with seeing one’s name in print.  In its next iteration, Scribble Press will become part of the larger creativity destination Make Meaning, with current locations in New York, Boston, Scottsdale and Thousand Oaks.  Bookmaking by Scribble Press launches at Make Meaning in New York City on July 16.  With many more locations planned over the next few years, Make Meaning provides a strong platform for realizing Scribble Press’ vision of turning kids into published authors.

Scribble Press will continue to grow as a digital publishing platform – seeking to make self-publishing both fun and accessible for kids everywhere.

What a privilege it has been to build a company that sells joy.   Thanks to everyone who shared this vision and brought something to make it a reality.

Have your own Scribble Press story to share?  Please submit it via comments, to our facebook page or via email to info@scribblepress.com. 

April 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

Across the Curriculum: Great Book Projects with Scribble Press

It’s been a while since we have posted about how elementary school classrooms are using Scribble Press and there are some innovative projects happening around the country and the world that we wanted to share.  Thanks to all the teachers who have shared their class books in the public gallery so that we can all learn and be inspired.

Spanish:  We’re seeing lots of books posted illustrating students’ knowledge of verb declensions.  It’s a great format to show you’ve mastered all the forms.  Other classes are creating reports about different countries’ environmental problems to show mastery of vocabulary.  Here’s a goodexample .

Using Scribble Press to find and document simple machines in the classroom

Using Scribble Press to find and document simple machines in the classroom

Math: Many classrooms are using Scribble Press to create math stories.  We love this example created by a fifth grade teacher.

Science:  Wow!  So many great science projects.  Check out this book about simple machines – this project uses the iPad camera to send students on a scavenger hunt for simple machines in the classroom, and then write about it.   A great group project.

Social Studies:  Historical biography projects work really well on Scribble Press.  Here’s a nice one of Abraham Lincoln, complete with creative spelling!

Creative Writing:  With the huge library of “fill in the blank” story outlines, students can get off to a fast start creating their own stories.  Allison wrote this one,  The Dog Ate My Homework, “only for people ho like dogs.”

In closing, here are some great tips about using Scribble Press for iPad.  These are some questions that have frequently been posted in reviews or sent in via email so we wanted to share them with you.

Printing.  A printed book ordered from us is $14.95 plus shipping,  However, we DO offer volume discounts for classes – just email us.  Also, you can download a PDF once a book is shared, right from our website, and print it however you like.

Sharing.  Books can be shared and unshared, made public or switched back to private, but in different places.  “Unsharing” happens in the App, and “make private” happens on the website, once a book has been uploaded.  “Unsharing” means that no one will be able to find the book, even if they have the direct page link.  “Make private” means that only people who have the link can see the book – it won’t show up in the searchable gallery.

Content packs.  Some of you have asked about how to create your own content packs or story outlines, or whether we can offer more choices.  We are planning to build a system allowing teachers to create their own content packs and share them (or even charge for them!) but that is probably for the following school year.  In the meantime, we’ll be launching some new packs in the spring and adding new stickers and story outlines.

We continue to be thrilled with how many classrooms and parents are using Scribble Press!  Thanks for all the creative applications you’ve come up with and please share your feedback and stories from your classrooms.

February 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

Introducing Scribble My Story

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Scribble My Story presented by Fingerprint Play

Happy new year!  We’d like to welcome the newest relative in the growing Scribble Press family of creativity products – the app for iPad Scribble My Story, available on the app store. We created Scribble My Story in partnership with Fingerprint Play, an innovative learning platform for kids 3-8.  

We were introduced last year to Fingerprint Play and really liked the way this platform helps parents and kids connect around digital learning and fun.  

Scribble My Story is similar to Scribble Press, with some key differences to support the younger creators: 

1) it has audio!  Pre-written stories are read aloud, and there is also the option to record your own voice as you write your own story. 

2) Scribble My Story takes advantage of the Fingerprint platform so parents can keep in touch with what their kids are learning and what books they are creating. 

3) There is a wealth of new artwork available, much of it based on the popular characters from Fingerprint Play’s Big Kid Life. 

Some features that are only available on Scribble Press for iPad – photo and web image import, support for classroom groups and public gallery publishing and print publishing.   For the more complex publishing projects you’ll still want to use Scribble Press, but there’s tons to do with Scribble My Story and it’s FREE to download!  

Check it out and let us know what you think!  

January 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm Leave a comment

Holiday Gift Ideas from Scribble Press

How about putting a little “DIY” into your “TODO” list?  Here are some great gifts you can create – starting at a price of FREE – and some gifts for the creative kid in your life.

  • Create a book!  This can take 5 minutes or 5 hours – you can use photos, our stickers, even create RS_Bg03_fireplaceyour own drawings.  It’s very simple on Scribble Press for iPad or on our website to create a quick book – a great gift from the heart.  Create a book on your iPad with one of these great backgrounds – insert a photo right into the frame. 
  • Send an e-card.  Scribble Press for iPad can be used to send personalized ecards with your own photos and drawings – something that you create yourself, not just personalize!
  • Give the gift of creativity.  An Author Toolkit
    Author Toolkit

    Author Toolkit

    makes the perfect gift for a creative child.  Our newly redesigned kit gives all young writers everything they need to create and publish a book – and have FUN doing it!

  • Make cards or a custom art book. Our website has many options including custom jumbo cards, placemats, even a kit to send us all your child’s artwork to turn into a beautiful coffee table book.
  • Gifts for those Local to NYC.   Local to our NYC studio?  What about a gift certificate to the unique experience of dropping in to create and publish a book!  There’s simply nothing like the joy on a child’s face when he or she sees the finished version.  Happy holidays to you, and happy scribbling.

    Two young authors with their newly-published Scribble Press books

    Two young authors with their newly-published Scribble Press books

December 6, 2012 at 2:39 am Leave a comment

Creating Thanksgiving stories with Scribble Press

In the United States, we are in that small pause before the holiday insanity of black friday and holiday shopping and finishing end of the year school and work projects.  What a great time to step back with our kids and create a book about what we are thankful for, or write a narrative celebrating Thanksgiving traditions.

In the Scribble Press gallery, there are some terrific examples including When the Turkey Ran Away by Lorelei and Favorite Fall Things by Erin – many more I would love share about thankfulness, but the authors are only sharing them privately.

thanksgiving image

There are some great Thanksgiving writing p

rompts from unique teaching resources that would work well for a home project with Scribble Press for iPad as well.

We have a great Story Pack available on the iPad or the website for creating Thanksgiving stories – see the details here 

This is my favorite holiday – its about food, family and gratitude.  My six year old said, when asked what he was thankful for, “I’m glad we have desks so I don’t have to sit on the floor.”  How wonderful to be able to see the everyday things and be thankful.

November 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

Writing Spooky Stories

It’s a great time of year to try your hand at creating a ghost story, creepy Halloween story or other seasonal tale. Here are a few tips to take you beyond “it was a dark and stormy night….”
1) Use descriptive words to set the scene. Dark, cold, shiver, goosebumps, foggy, creaky…..These kinds of words put the reader in the scene and help build a sense of suspense.  Here is a fun example of setting the scene, in a book created by Abby on Scribble Press for iPad. 

2) Roll out the story slowly.  The reveal doesn’t have to be THAT scary – what makes a great spooky story is the anticipation, wondering what is right around the corner. Spooky stories are usually not about plot, they are about mood!

3) Create some stakes.  Wy do we care about the main character?  Is there a reason why this situation is particularly scary for him or her?

4) Defuse the tension.  Writing for little kids?  Its okay to defuse the tension in the end by turning it into a joke!  A good example of this is A Ghost Story, by Pat.  Younger kids may enjoy the feeling of being a little scared and then the relief at the end when it’s not so scary after all.

For some other great ideas, see this list of Story Starters by Scholastic  and this story creating engine from the UK.  We look forward to seeing stories created with Scribble Press and we’ll share the great ones here!  Happy spooky scribbling!

Our haunted house sticker pack is available through Scribble Press for iPad or to use on our website here Some great examples of books created using this art work are

October 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

How to Grow a Reader

I always wanted my kids to be readers.  Actually, let me rephrase:  I was determined that if I did nothing else in my career as a mother, my kids would be readers.  My own “book lover” credentials are pretty solid – editor dad, literary agent mom, elementary school career spent holed up in a closet writing (bad) poetry.  Throw in the fact that I put books in the same category as food and water, and that pretty much sums it up.

I can’t say there was a real philosophical underpinning to my determination to transfer my love of books to my sons.  I just knew they

August and Edwin in their nightly routine

HAD to be readers, because that love of reading would connect us always.  And I knew it was good for them without having googled a bunch of educational research.

I’m sure there are many paths to the same result.  This is what I did, and how it worked.  - Anna Barber, Scribble Press co-founder and CEO

  1. Be a reader.  I regularly, consistently, frequently read in front of my kids.  I read memoirs on my iPad, the New Yorker, The New York Times, paperback business books, hardcover fiction from the library.  They have always connected “Mom reading” with “Mom relaxing.”
  2. Read out loud. I do this sporadically.  I mean, I work and have a crazy life, and sometimes can’t stomach even 20 minutes of Mary Poppins or whatever it is.  Or I’ve been talking all day and just don’t want to hear my own voice anymore.  I know parents who have read all of Harry Potter out loud.  Good for them – I can’t imagine.  We read the first book, plus a few others – enough to make it a regular thing.
  3. Have lots of books around.  Books are home decor, they are a fingerprint, a personal history.  While I love my iPad (and my Kindle and my Nook too) kids engage better with the actual paper copies that don’t also come loaded with Angry Birds.  Make sure the lower shelves are full of stuff they might like – your old geology textbook, an Encyclopedia, picture books, comic books, whatever.
  4. Don’t be precious about what they read.  You may have a vision of your ten-year old digging into Tolstoy, but be happy when he turns down a tv show to read Captain Underpants.  It’s going to lead somewhere good, I promise.  The potty jokes can’t go on forever.
  5. Go to the library and check out a ridiculous amount of books.  This is something we’ve done consistently, every two weeks, for years.  I let each child check out AS MANY books as he wants.  They love the freedom of picking something because they MIGHT be interested – with no pressure.  It’s a treat.  As a side note, pay your late fees and round up.  Donate if you can.  We need our libraries.
  6. Talk about reading as a reward, not work.  If you say “read 30 minutes then you can play,” you are sending a different message about reading than if you say, “clear your plate from the table and then you can read.”  Scheduling reading time, hoping it will then stick, doesn’t work –  in my experience.

As I sit here typing this my eight year old is reading THE GREAT BRAIN  and my six year old is reading a book about Stink, Judy Moody’s little brother.  It wasn’t always this way.  They weren’t so excited to go to the library the first 20 times.  I stuck with my program, and about two years ago the light went on for my older son.  Just last month, it happened for my younger one.  “Mom?” he said.  “We are rich in books.”  Yes, I said.  Yes, we are.  And there is no better way to be rich.

September 13, 2012 at 2:20 am 1 comment

Teacher Viewpoint: Scribble Press in Summer Learning Camp

by Leah Lacrosse, 5th Grade Science Teacher.  Read Leah’s blog here and follow her on twitter @LLacrosse Thanks Leah for this contribution and for sharing your ideas about using Scribble Press in the classroom!  – Anna B. 

As educators around the world start recognizing the possibilities with iPad integration into the classroom, we are diving into some amazing apps. When looking for an app to support student reading, writing, and science content, I discovered the ScribblePress app. I was instantly impressed with the ease of use as my 9 year old daughter and I quickly created a fantasy type

Working together on a book

book while sitting in the doctors office. We were writing, talking, drawing, laughing, and CREATING! This is the environment that I want to see my science student work within.

Imagine…taking a field trip to the science center and returning to create a class book! The science content would be revisited with reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills automatically integrated. Or, completing a study of the solar system objects and developing their own textbook version. Creating their own work will make the content so much more relevant and memorable. These artifacts of learning could easily be revisited at testing time as they can be printed or saved to the iPad. Conference time? These books would make fantastic discussion points for learning and areas to grow.

Wow! The possibilities are endless!

In our Summer Learning Camp session, we have been utilizing the ScribblePress app for students to create books about

Creating books in class with Scribble Press for iPad

themselves. With the easy to use template, my emerging readers/writers are creating phenomenal works! Sharing with each other, I hear confidence in their voices. We are furthering the use of the app by printing out copies for the students to share with their new teachers in 2 weeks. What a great way to introduce yourself as a reader, writer, and student by being a published author.

August 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

Create a Vacation Travelogue using our iPad App!

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Are you planning a trip with your family this summer?  Are you currently on vacation?  Did you just get back from an amazing journey?  Are you looking for a creative way to document your time together?  Do you have an iPad?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions – these fun tips might be just for you!

Taking vacations can be full of fun memories.  By downloading our FREE ipad app, you will have access to a myriad of fun tools and templates that will help guide your storytelling process.  Not only does this provide an exciting activity to do together, but you will have an online scrapbook of your time that you can share with others.  You can even convert it into a hard copy book and we will mail it to you!  This is a great way to involve the entire family – including the youngest of them.

With this app, you can help promote creativity in your kids by having them create their own story and illustrations using our virtual stamps, stickers, and markers.  Importing and incorporating your own photos is a neat option too!  As they begin to articulate their experiences through writing and drawing – it not only becomes a fun activity, but also a teaching moment.  It helps them to learn the foundations of storytelling (“who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “how”), practice spelling and grammar, build confidence through self-expression, and awaken the little author and artist in them!

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ImageAre you planning a long plane or car ride?  Take a handful of books for your kids to read.  After they’re done reading, ask them to create their own story on our iPad app inspired by that book. You can help with brainstorming by asking open-ended questions like “What sort of adventure would you go on if the main character was here on the plane/car with you?”  This fun activity will help bolster reading comprehension while giving them space to practice creative thinking.

Some good questions to ask:

[Kids: Ages 2-5]

1)  What did you see…hear…taste…touch…smell?

2)  What was your favorite part of the trip?

3)  To promote learning colors or letters, look for a specific color or word that corresponds with the theme each day and include it in the book.  For example:  You can title the book “The Colors of My Vacation”.  The first day could be the “Blue” page.  You can write about the beach and draw the blue ocean.  You can also write about the “ABC’s of my Vacation”.  For letter “B” day, you can draw and write about the “blue balloon” or “bikes on a boulevard” that you saw that day.  A fun challenge:  Try seeing “Baby Beluga” while doing that!

4)       Make it a fun game!  Kids will rise to the challenge.

Tip: Virtual stamps and stickers are great to use for this age!

[Kids: Ages 6 and above]

1)  Could you imagine yourself living here?  How would your life be different?

2)  If they’re avid photographers, encourage them to include their photos of ticket stubs, postcards, unique artifacts, landmarks, etc. into their story and type out their own text.

3)  If you’re in a foreign country, create a dictionary of your favorite words in their native language.

4) Collect feelings, tastes, smells, and reactions to cultural differences.

5)  Introduce concepts of metaphor, simile, and alliteration into your story.

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This is a fun idea for family reunions!  Cousins can work on different pages together.  Make a book full of your favorite inside jokes or fun memories you had and email it to your whole family!  The carefree delights of summertime can continue year-round!  You can also convert the iPad book into a self-made passport of sorts!  Each page can be dedicated to a new town or site or park you visit…use one of our unique stamps to mark your arrival!

If you’re a new user, check out this helpful video tutorial that shows you how to use our app step-by-step This was filmed by a Scribble Press user from Australia (thank you, iPadagogy!).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REx0kLh_A_M

We’d love to read your vacation stories! After you finish writing, don’t forget to add it to our eBook shelf to share it with us!

-Grace Lee (Community Manager)

July 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Rewriting the classics: Jumpstart your child’s storytelling skills

Imitation, so they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also a great way to start developing your child’s storytelling muscles.  Young children often memorize the words to their favorite books. It’s a short step from that to changing the words slightly to make your own version. Here are five popular picture books that you may have in your house that are a great jumping-off point for writing your own stories with your preschool-age child.  This is a great activity for a lazy summer afternoon.

Goodnightmoon written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd1)     Goodnight Moon (by Margaret Wise Brown).  Create your own goodnight story featuring the stuff in your child’s bedroom.  You can illustrate it with cutout photos of the actual objects, and make the book out of folded construction paper stapled together at the side. This is also great to bring along when you are travelling as a way to remember home and make bedtime more familiar.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond 2)     If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond). This is an easy structure to work with and allows you to explore cause and effect, and the humor of unintended consequences.  Can your child imagine what happens if you give a bear a banana or give an ape an apple?  Play out the scenario and see where it takes you.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems3)     Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (by Mo Willems). What else should we not let the pigeon do? Don’t let the pigeon make your lunch? Get you dressed? Clean your room? Imagine the excuses the pigeon comes up with. You can illustrate your version with pencil, and older children may be able to create their own versions of the pigeon. (PS, did you know the pigeon has his own twitter account? Follow him @the_pigeon.)

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle4)     From Head to Toe (by Eric Carle). Imitating this simple structure by imagining what different animals can do and repeating it is a great imagination exercise for active preschoolers. Write down their ideas, illustrate with photos or drawings of the animals, or just act it out together.

5)    Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson Harold and the Purple Crayon (by Crockett Johnson). For older kids who may be able to draw, this book is a great device: Have your child imagine she is in a sticky situation – how can she use the purple crayon to get out of it? What would be the equivalent dream picnic for your child of Harold’s nine kinds of pies?  How does she get back home to her bed?

Once your child is comfortable with the basic idea of creating new stories, you can start from scratch. You can always go back to the well and look for inspiration from other books. Happy writing!

-Anna Barber
Co-founder and CEO

This post was originally published in 2010. 

June 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm Leave a comment

Managing End of the Year Madness

Why does this time of year always feel so frantic?  Every time we turn around, there’s another end of the year school event to plan or holiday to celebrate.  We love seeing the results of all the hard work during the school year, but we also wish we could fall asleep on a beach chair and wake up on July 4th!  

Here’s a few easy ways to check some of those items off your end-of-the-school year list. 

Teacher Gifts:  Short of a trip to Hawaii, the best teacher gift we can think of is a book with a personal thank-you note from each child in it.  You could make the book by hand.  There are some neat ideas on Pinterest  – or feel free to use Scribble Press’ gift book kit.

Father’s Day:  We’d like to propose moving Father’s Day to a less busy time of year.  How about August?  Discuss. While that proposal is making its way through the corridors of power, we have a great way to wow Dad with the ultimate gift – a book or card created by hand.  If you have an iPad, your kids can write, illustrate and order a printed copy of a special book for Dad – all from your living room couch!   If you are in NYC or LA, visit one of our studios to hand-color, stamp, sticker, write and otherwise create your special gift book at one of our studios

All That Artwork:  We know, the piles of artwork coming home from school just seem to get bigger and bigger…You Custom gallery art book can either spend hours going through the artwork and creating a scrapbook, or you can put it all in the mail to us and turn it into a beautiful 11×11 coffee table book!  Moms rave about our custom gallery books – and when you get yours you can archive the original art in the attic, or even (gasp) decide you no longer need the originals. 

We’re still exhausted just thinking about all the plays, medal ceremonies, graduations, and thank you gifts – but at least we know the school year will be commemorated, celebrated and topped off in style!

May 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

Looking for a Mother’s Day’s Gift?

May is finally upon us!  In 12 days, the whole country will officially celebrate the wonderful mothers (and grandmothers) who loved and raised us.  Most of them will go the traditional route – stopping by Hallmark and hoping to find a card with words that someone else wrote to communicate their personal sentiments.  

What if there was a world where you could create your own card?  Your own book?  Your own special gift?  Great news!  That world exists — at Scribble Press.  Whether you live locally to our stores or overseas – creative options are available! 

If  you live in the LA or NY area, stop by our art studio to create an in-store product.

http://www.scribblepress.com/locations

If you live further away, you can request templates or send us the artwork you would like on your gift.  More information is on our Pinterest and online store page. 

http://pinterest.com/scribblepress/personalized-gifts/

http://www.scribblepress.com/shop/make-your-own-stuff

If you’re an iPad user, you can download our app and transform that into a  product.   You can even share your artwork online with your loved ones!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scribble-press/id487300076?mt=8

May 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

New Scribble Press for iPad Features – for Teachers

New Scribble Press for iPad Features – for Teachers

We’re excited to report that almost 50,000 kids and grownups around the world have used Scribble Press to create books in their classrooms and at home since we launched just a few short months ago.

Here are just a few of our favorite books from classroom projects:

If I Ran for President, by Alejandro

How Neptune Lost His Ring, by Stefan

My Cat is a Ninja, by unknown

And by people just having fun with the App at home:

Manina’s Boat House, by Walkiria

The Zombie Atopolips, by Ethan

Socks, by Topher

Happy 75th Birthday, Grandma by your family

And here’s where you can browse the whole library of books that have been shared in our public gallery:

http://ebooks.scribblepress.com/

GROUP ACCOUNTS – NEW

You can create a classroom account with a private bookshelf here.    You can set up accounts for every student, without needing an email address, and the books will upload to your private online bookshelf.  COMING SOON:  Share the online bookshelf with your students’ families so they can buy copies and benefit your school!

If you want to order books for an entire classroom, invoicing is available – but must be arranged ahead of time.  We can combine orders to reduce shipping cost.  We’ll email you an estimate or invoice before making and shipping your books.

Questions?  Email us anytime at info@scribblepress.com.  Happy scribbling!

April 5, 2012 at 12:45 am Leave a comment

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

It’s Theodore Geisel’s 108th birthday today, which is hard to believe given how enduring the Dr. Seuss “oeuvre” has proved itself to be.

The classic books from Cat in the Hat to Go Dog Go are the first loved, chewed on book for many one year olds, the “read it to me again, Mom” for the ten-thousandth time for many three year olds, and the first complete book proudly sounded out by many five year olds. 

These books with their signature rhyming patter also encourage kids to begin writing their own stories.   Dr. Seuss teaches us that all you really need to start writing a stoy is a couple of words that rhyme, or alliterate, or just sound funny together.

Here are a couple of story ideas to get your kids started writing their own stories:

Sit, Cat, Sit  (in the time-honored tradition of ripping off existing books)

My mom met a mummy (you can’t go wrong with alliteration)

There’s junk in my trunk (the kids won’t appreciate the double entendre, but you will!)

And here is an idea from our Inspiration Station that is more open-ended:

“What questions would you ask a fairy that causes a lot of trouble?”

Happy scribbling!

March 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

January Story Winner: “Socks: A Story About Knitting and Reality” by Topher8

It’s a new year and we have a new twist to our Faber Castell Scribble Your Story contest!  We are so excited to announce that our January winner was a book created on the iPad with the Scribble Press App. 

Author Topher8 (who has requested to remain anonymous) won for his heartwarming story titled Socks: A Story About Knitting and Reality.  And here’s the twist – the author is an adult writing about a story from childhood.  “My story is a true one that I wanted to tell from a child’s perspective, which I think is an important point of view that [Scribble Press] works to help capture,” says Topher8.  “I enjoyed using the iPad app to produce the book and it couldn’t have been easier to use or more user friendly. A person with more artistic ability could really work some magic using it. Thank you again for recognizing my little piece of work and I really respect the inspiration your company provides for today’s children.”

Our guest judge this month is author playwright Jenny Lyn Bader. Her plays include None of the Above, which was produced Off-Broadway and is published by Dramatists Play Service. She co-authored the book He Meant, She Meant: The Definitive Male-Female Dictionary (Warner). And we always enjoy her humor, reviews, and essays in The New York Times. You can read more about her at www.jennylynbader.com.

Ms. Bader was thrilled to see so much inventive writing and drawing in this month’s finalists.  Here is what she had to say about her choice, Socks.  “What a gift this book is.  It begins as a simple story about how kids may act when they receive a present that’s not a toy, then goes in an unexpected direction, and ends with a delightful twist. Along the way, the narrator learns a powerful lesson, and so does the reader. This author deals with serious subjects deftly. And he manages to spin a yarn that’s both funny and moving, both personal and universal, and rich with insights about the nature of giving and human nature. Socks warms us with its wisdom, heart, and humor — and offers a unique and memorable message.”

Our mystery writer will be receiving $100 of art supplies from our friends at Faber-Castell, including a Metallic Mania Gift Set and will be donating his prize to a local childcare facility that caters to needy families. 

To read other great books written by kids, and to learn how to enter the Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story contest, check out the Scribble Press eBookshelf.  And be sure to download our Free App on iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scribble-press/id487300076?mt=8

February 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm 1 comment

Scribble Press for iPad: Features for Teachers

Scribble Press for iPad has been available less than two months and is already in use in classrooms around the world!  We’ve heard from teachers

Students using Scribble Press for iPad

in California and New York, in Australia and Nebraska, in Canada and Tennessee, all of whom are using this App with their students to create, share and even print books.  See what one third grade class did with the App here

Here are some tips for teachers about using Scribble Press for iPad:

You can create group accounts.  Visit our Group Account Page to set up student accounts without an email address.  These will work in the App and will allow you to privately share books the class creates on a dedicated landing page.

You can create and share books on iBooks, via email and via the web at no charge.  Books can be downloaded as an epub to any e-reader or read from a web broswer.  Once your students create their books, you can privately share them with the class, other classes, and friends and family through a variety of media – right from the App.

Your students can incorporate photos and other images in their books.  Any images stored in the photo gallery of the iPad can be brought into the App, and on iPad 2 students can take new photos as they are creating their books.

Educator communication and support.  We want to hear from teachers about your experiences using Scribble Press App.  Please email us at educators@scribblepress.com  and we would appreciate your comments and tips for your fellow teachers be added here.

 

What’s coming.  We’re working on some great new features, including improving our web-side support and sharing options, easier purchase options for printed books, adding great new content and tools to the App and making the editing process more flexible.  Look for our next big release in the spring.

In the meantime, happy scribbling!

February 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm 5 comments

Creating Great Books with Scribble Press for iPad

News flash – the update to Scribble Press for iPad just came out and you can now order actual printed books – and puzzles, cards, clipboards and notepads – that you create on your iPad.   Here are some answers to questions we have gotten about  the App:

  • Installing the update will NOT remove your data.  All your books will be there after you install the update.Free bookmaking App for the iPad
  • If memory problems are causing the App to close, try closing some other Apps that are running at the same time.  Most people don’t realize they may be simultaneously running over 20 Apps.
  • Questions about sharing:  your books are private unless YOU decide to add them to the public gallery, and we require parent approval for kids to add books.  We also keep an eye on the gallery to make sure that all the books up there are kid-friendly, original creations.  
  • You can download and read your book on an iPad, Kindle, Nook or any other e-reader.  Our App only works on iPad but you can read the books you create on anything.
  • For teachers: It’s great that so many classrooms are already using Scribble Press for iPad! we are working on a group accounts feature and invite you to join our educator community by emailing us at educators@scribblepress.com.  We want to hear your feedback.
  • Updates: we are planning the next big release for April, so let us know what you think should be included.

January 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm 1 comment

Scribble Press for iPad is Here!

create your own books free on the iPad

great new book creation tool for iPad

Just in time for the holidays – Scribble Press for iPad is here!  Scribble Press for iPad is a free (for now!) App to create books with words, photos, stickers, stamps and drawings.  The best part – you can share them with whomever you like or download to iBooks – also free!

a book about a great babysitter

Just one of the great books created on Scribble Press for iPad

Launched two days ago and people are already creating some amazing things with this App.  We are seeing lots of books featuring aliens, ninjas, zombies, and cherubic two year olds who somehow get invited to join major league baseball teams.  Download the App here. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scribble-press/id487300076?mt=8

Check out this great review – the first one http://blog.famigo.com/2011/12/scribble-press-new-ipad-app-write-illustrate-your-own-books/?=TOM 

Happy Scribbling and let us know what you think!

December 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm 1 comment

November Story Winner: “I Love Ben” by Anna

It is time, folks, for another Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story contest winner!  And that winner is Anna, who wrote the heartfelt “I Love You, Ben.”  November brought books of thanks, namely thanks for those in our lives.  Dads, moms, brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas… so it’s no wonder that our winner this month is a book written especially for the author’s loved one.   In her story, Anna recounts reasons she loves Ben and reminds us of the importance of love for family.

Our guest judge this month is Gina Otto , author of Cassandra’s Angel.  Gina has worked in film production, advertising, and the fashion industry for the past fifteen years. In 1995, she began speaking with teenagers about the importance of self perception and how it is affected by popular culture. 

Although Gina was a fan of many of the eBooks written in November, she chose Anna’s book, saying she was “touched that she used her time and talent to write a story to encourage and uplift someone else.   She also noted the rhyming verse and thought that Anna’s “imaginative and colorful illustrations were beautiful.

Anna will be receiving $100 of art supplies from our friends at Faber-Castell, including a Young Artists Essentials Gift Set.  Congratulations, Anna!  Perhaps you can enjoy using your new art supplies with dear Ben?

To read other great books written by kids, and to learn how to enter the Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story contest, check out the Scribble Press eBookshelf.  Maybe the holidays will inspire you to write a story of your own!

December 13, 2011 at 1:38 am Leave a comment

October Story Winner: ‘My Trip to Skylar Island’ by Skylar!

Ah, November has officially begun, meaning a kick-off to holiday eating, shopping, shopping, shopping, and most importantly: the announcement of our October Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story contest winner!  It was a tough one this month, but in the end, Skylar took the cake with her nail-biting adventure, “My Trip to Skylar Island.”   As the author herself states, this tale is about “a regular trip gone wild…”

Our guest judge this month is Gitty Daneshvari, author of one of Scribble Press’ favorite children’s book series, School of Fear.  She has a background in film development and is also the author of the adult novel The Makedown.  She lives in New York City, by way of LA– bicoastal just like Scribble Press!  You can learn more about Gitty and her fantastic series at www.enrollinschooloffear.com.

For her prize-winning book, Skylar will receive $100 of art supplies from our friends at Faber-Castell, including a Young Artists Essentials Gift Set. Here’s what Ms. Daneshvari wrote about Skylar’s book: “Choosing the winner for the Faber-Castell Book of the Month contest was incredibly difficult! All the books were original and impressive in different ways. …But ultimately, I had to choose ‘My Trip to Skylar Island’ as the winner. Skylar created an adventure filled story which kept the reader glued to the page, wondering what would happen to our protagonist on the high seas in the middle of a storm. I was especially impressed with Skylar’s descriptions and use of vocabulary. I look forward to reading more from Skylar and the rest of the talented authors soon!”

Congrats again to Skylar for writing such a fun story!  We’re hoping this turns out to be a recurring character… sequel, anyone?  To read other great books written by kids, and to learn how to enter the Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story contest, check out the Scribble Press eBookshelf.  We can’t wait to see what fun November brings!

November 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

Halloween Craft: Shoebox Haunted House

Halloween is just around the corner!  A great way to get into the Halloween spirit is filling your house with scary decorations. However, if you don’t want to turn your home into a haunted house, create a mini version that’s just as spooky with simple materials like a shoebox, construction paper and toilet paper!  Here’s how you can make your own shoebox haunted house at home:

Paint the entire shoebox black. (For a less messy option, cover the shoebox with black construction paper.)

Adhere one side of the shoebox to the lid. The lid will serve as the lawn of your haunted house.

For the roof of the haunted house, cut another shoebox lid in half and tape each end together. Adhere the triangle to the top off the shoebox. Cut a triangular shape out of a piece of construction paper and glue it to back of the roof.

Cut colored squares out of construction paper for the windows.

Fill your house with jack-o-lanterns, bats, vampires, witches, ghosts and whatever other scary Halloween characters you can think of! Use Halloween themed stickers, or draw, color, cut out and glue your pictures in the house.

Roll toilet paper around a popsicle stick to make a mummy. Or, crumple the end of a few squares of toilet paper into a ball and fasten with a rubber band or twist-tie and shred the ends to make a ghost. Or do both!

Repeat the process with boxes of all different shapes and sizes to create an entire haunted village!

We’ll be offering the shoebox haunted house project at all three Scribble Press locations this weekend (Friday-Sunday).  $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers. Join us for some Halloween fun!

October 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm 1 comment

Storytelling Through Songwriting

Keppie Coutts

Keppie Coutts

I love teaching songwriting to kids! Most of the time, when I teach songwriting, I am teaching adults. By the time adults get around to taking a course in songwriting, they are full of doubts about their creativity and process. They are not sure if their ideas are original enough, good enough, unique enough… What I love about kids is that, for the most part, they don’t have that baggage! Every idea is fair game! And this is the beauty of songwriting: finding ways to show the world how you perceive something different to everybody else, and why it is exciting to you.

The cool thing is that in the end, the stuff I teach to adults is the same stuff I teach to kids:

  • Decide what the central idea of your song is.
  • Find unique images, word pictures, and sounds to describe your ideas.
  • Structure your song like you would structure a story – with a beginning, middle, and an end, so that the ideas flow in logical order.

What is amazing about songwriting for kids is learning how to focus on one idea, find cool and interesting ways to explain or describe it, using melody, rhythm and rhyme to start understanding the structure of language, and seeing how music can create a powerful emotional backdrop to the lyrical ideas you have.

I am so excited to share my love for songs and songwriting with other budding young songwriters!

-Keppie Coutts, Scribble Press Santa Monica Songwriting teacher

Keppie’s Favorite Artists Whose Songs Tell Great Stories:
The Beatles
Leonard Cohen
Joni Mitchell
The Decembrists
Gillian Welch
Tom Waits
Ani DiFranco

October 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm Leave a comment

Vote for us!

Do you think Scribble Press is totally awesome? (We really hope so!)

We’re honored and excited to be a finalist in the Most Awesome Toy Shops and Book Stores category in Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome awards.

We REALLY want to win, but we can’t do it without your help! If you love Scribble Press, please vote for us here (and tell your friends, too!). Voting ends October 14.

And, when you vote for Scribble Press, you’re automatically entered to win a $500 gift certificate from our friends and neighbors at giggle! Shop at giggle, and then come scribble!

Some reasons why Scribble Press is totally awesome:

Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awards“I like the people who help me and it is interesting to write a book and get to take it home.” – Aidan

 

 

 

 

“NRed Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awardso one is telling you what to do – you just do it.” -Alex

 

 

 

 

Red Tricycle’s Totally Awesome Awards“You can come up with anything, put it on paper, and then you have it forever.” – Spencer

 

 

 

Thank you to all our fans for your continued love and support! And for voting!

September 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

August Story Contest Winner: ‘The Adventure of Bob’ by Simon

CONGRATULATIONS to 10-year-old Simon, winner of this month’s Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story contest! Hidden treasure, far-away planets and a great escape were the topics of

Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story Contest Winner, Simon

Simon creating an award winning story and having fun doing so!

Simon’s creative and colorful comic book, “The Adventure of Bob.”

Our guest judge this month is Sherri Duskey Rinker, author of one of the best picture books of 2011, GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE. Why we love Rinker:  Her book is filled with surprising rhymes and creative uses of words.  Also, she wrote Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site in her free time – while juggling multiple full time jobs as the head of her own graphic design firm and mom of two. What a great inspiration for all our aspiring young authors. Scribble Press was lucky to be able to host Rinker for a reading during her book tour, and we’re thrilled she’s joined us here to help choose the first of 12 winners of the Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story Contest! Simon received $100 of art supplies from Faber-Castell including a Young Artists Essentials Gift Set and a Comic Illustrations Set. Simon also received a gift certificate to make more books at Scribble Press.

Here’s what Sherri wrote about Simon’s book:

“I love the creativity shown in Simon’s book (dare I say “graphic novel?!”), The Adventure of Bob!
Simon shows great maturity in his illustration style and his ability to aptly divide up his pages into strong graphic vignettes that move the story along and keep the reader interested. Additionally, Simon’s plot twists are lively and his dialog nicely fits the illustrations (and sometimes elicits a laugh from the reader!). Simon’s’ combination of text and graphics make him a sure winner with a promising future ahead! (Nicely done, Simon. I can’t believe you’re only almost-11 years old!)”

Congrats again to Simon! We can’t wait to read all the stories you’ll write!

To read other great books written by kids, to learn how to enter the Faber-Castell Scribble Your Story contest, check out the Scribble Press eBookshelf.

September 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Introducing: Inspiration Station

Inspiration Station WallHope everyone had a great summer! At Scribble Press, we’ve stayed busy working on some exciting things, including a brand spankin’ new INSPIRATION STATION! We created the Inspiration Station because we wanted to give kids more tools – fun pictures, drawings, words and other materials – to help spark their imaginations and creativity in an inviting setting. Hopefully all the things they see will aid in their own self-expression!

Here’s a little tour of what you’ll find at the Inspiration Station:

Elephant

It's an elephant... in a dress!

Laminated photo cards – You’ll find hundreds of photos to help develop the who, what, where, when and why of a story, or just to help with illustrations. Elephant in a dress, anyone?

Story starters, twist ideas, and synonym cards – “And then, all of a sudden, I sprouted wings.”  Now you’ll never run out of interesting plot turns or get stuck thinking of the perfect word to describe something.

How to draw an airplaneStory Stones

Inklings – These cards provide step by step drawing instructions for dozens of popular items, from spaceships to castles to dolphins.

Story stones – For the more tactile scribblers, each hand-painted stone contains a single word to help get those creative wheels turning!

What do you think of Inspiration Station? We’re always looking for new things to add, so please share your ideas!

August 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm Leave a comment

Funny stories written by kids

One of the great things about kids is their wild imaginations. Not only do they have hilarious and unique ideas, they aren’t self-conscious like most adults grow to become. For the most part, kids don’t care if their stories sound silly or are too fanciful – they just want to have fun and share their ideas. It’s this combination that makes reading all our kid authors’ books so enjoyable, and seeing their faces when they receive their published copy so exciting.

free ebooks for kids, short stores for kids

Read and download free eBooks written by kids, for kids!

Here are a few funny excerpts from some of our most popular books from our library of books by kids, for kids: 
Katie Short Legs by Amy
The old couple named their child Katie Short Legs because she was so short and they liked the name Katie.

The Time I Went Real Wrong About Tights by Alex
I scoured through my closet of 156 pairs of tights. I looked at some purple and pink tights – a little too flashy. My poodle tights? Too girly. My candy cane tights? No, too winter holiday.

Happy Birthday Aunt Tricia by Emilia and Valentina
You’re pretty like a rainbow. You smell like a birthday cake.

Another Chance by Daniela
Then Olivia put on sparkles and sparkles and sparkles and sparkles and just so many sparkles!

To read more stories by kid authors, check out the Scribble Press eBook library. It’s free to read and download eBooks, and we’re adding new stories every day!

 

July 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm Leave a comment

Books for kids: Creative writing by kids, for kids

“Once upon a time there was a guy who worked at the pound, which means he was a dog catcher.”

The story goes on to tell us how exhausted the dog catcher is from chasing one vexing dog in particular and how much he needs a vacation. Of course, the dog catcher’s tranquil stay at the Four Season’s is abruptly interrupted by… guess who.

For two days straight, I read this story aloud to a rapt audience of campers. Ten classes of more than 20 second and third graders followed every page, every picture. By the last class, I was sure the nurse in the room adjacent to ours would come barreling in and holler, “It’s President Obama’s dog!” – of course, spoiling the story’s random but entertaining ending. Thankfully she exercised restraint. And the children were left to cheer and laugh as the story concluded.

e Books for kids

Read Daniela's entertaining eBook!

Written by Daniela Perez, The Missing Labrador was a raging storytime success. No listener called out “I’ve read that book before!” or “This is boring.”  Everyone wanted to see just what it was that they, too, could accomplish. After all, Daniela was only in third grade.

There is such value in sharing the stories that children write. We are mistaken to think only the glorious bound book of a best-selling author can inspire a child’s creativity. In fact, I might argue that children are the best writers for other children. After all, they share a certain appreciation of the improbable.

How else can you explain the universal acceptance of the idea that the exasperating, chicken-stealing dog causing mayhem at the Four Season’s ACTUALLY lives in the White House?

Check out The Missing Labrador or one of the other great books written by young authors.

-Jennifer Sarja

July 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

Summer Reading: For the Harry Potter Fan

Since the publication of the first in the Harry Potter series in 1997, the bespectacled young wizard has done more to get kids engaged in reading than all the wheedling and cajoling of well-meaning parents everywhere.  Here are some ideas for younger readers who have reached the end of the series or want to find something similar.

This is the first of several summer reading lists we are publishing. A word of caution: These books have been hand-picked by me (voracious reader, editor’s daughter, mom of four) and may seem random and arbritrary and certainly are incomplete. Please add your own suggestions in the comments field or on our Facebook page where we are running a CONTEST! Give us your top summer reading recommendation for kids and be entered automatically to win a book basket with SIGNED COPIES of a few books for young readers, plus an Author’s Tool Kit to create your own book. Happy reading and writing…

Hugo Cabret illustration

THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (Brian Selznick). We discovered Brian Selznick last summer and were drawn into this compelling world of orphan Hugo Cabret, living in a train station in Paris a century ago told in words and in black and white drawings. Can’t wait to read WONDERSTRUCK – his new book coming out in the fall.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA (CS Lewis). Shorter than most of the Harry Potter tomes, this fantasy about four children who enter a magical world through the back of a wardrobe is a compelling read accessible to kids as young as six if read aloud. I have to confess, we started the next book THE HORSE AND HIS BOY and put it down. Just didn’t hold up to NARNIA.
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Roald Dahl). We just read this aloud and it really stands the test of time. A great adventure with a moral at its chewy chocolate center.
A WRINKLE IN TIME (Madeleine L’Engle). I love this book for many reasons, in part because it’s an adventure story with a girl at the center that boys still enjoy reading. Originally published in 1962, this fantasy of the Murry children who must rescue their father in a strange land is still a gripping read.
A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (Lemony Snicket). I have to confess to not having cracked this one yet, but everyone else recommends it for Harry Potter fans. We’re planning to check it out this summer.
THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES (Julie Andrews Edwards). I love this adventure story about siblings who trek to visit the last living Whangdoodle by using their imaginations. Plus it’s a fun word to say and was written by Julie Andrews.
A WHOLE NOTHER STORY (Dr. Cuthbert Soup). My boys and I loved this humorous mystery-conspiracy novel about the Cheeseman family, on the run from corrupt government agents. And it even has its own video trailer.

We’re always looking for great recommendations so please share your ideas!  And remember to check out our free eBook library – books created at Scribble Press that you can download free on your iPad, Nook or other reader and enjoy at home.

June 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm 1 comment

Time-out for adventure? A thought or two… and a quick book review

The other day, I was teaching some exuberant third grade girls all about The Hero’s Journey. A little ambitious, I know. 

As usual, “the refusal of the call” was the toughest part of “the journey” to convey. I explained that it’s the part of the story when the hero is faced with the chance for adventure; however, because it takes him out of his comfort zone, he doesn’t really want to do it. After a short while talking about what makes a character’s comfort zone, we set out to write our stories. 

“My character is going to be a girly-girl. She likes makeup and nice clothes,” announced Mioko.

“Girly-girl” is definitely a comfort zone for this third grader–so much so that I didn’t have the heart to point out the unladylike pizza stain on her pretty green jumper as she went on to describe her story: “The hero’s purse is going to fall into a hole in the ground and she’s gonna have to decide whether to mess up her hair and go get it in Sportland…” (Where, naturally, she’ll have to play a sweaty game of soccer to get the purse back.)

Not bad for a third grader, right? 

Now as a child, I didn’t know much of anything about “girly-girl.” When I was three, I asked for a football helmet. My comfort zone involved Star Wars figures battling Strawberry Shortcake for domination of the mud hole underneath the kitchen window. I loved all things NOT girly-girl.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

See NY Times Bestseller Sherri Rinker at Scribble Press UWS tomorrow at 4 p.m.!

 So imagine my delight to learn about “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site,” a clever book by Sherri Rinker that brings the anti-girly-girls back to their comfort zone when it’s time to go to bed. After all, as my sister walked the periphery of the bedroom giving the dolls delicate kisses goodnight, I was battening the hatches, hunkering down for a night on watch, ready to battle the evil armies of tarantulas that were set to attack my bed as soon as the lights went out.  That or I was using my gargantuan Barbie camper as the getaway vehicle in a Hall of Justice take-over. Yes, getting me to go to sleep was itself a hero’s journey. The point is, no ordinary bedtime story with bunnies or moons was going to cut it.

While Rinker’s book may not be the perfect story for a child preparing for an epic arachnid war (“Get the F—k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés might have been more up my parents’ alley), “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site” is an amazing alternative for the energetic child who just wants to spend bedtime yelling VROOOM!  

Whether your child is a girly-girl, a dump truck kid, or a mix of the two, find bedtime books that speak to him/her. Remember that going to sleep is a hero’s journey. And as Mioko’s protagonist dreaded Sportsland, it is your child’s job to refuse the call.

So, be the Mentor. Guide the journey.  And if it helps, bring a dump truck.

Come meet Sherri Rinker and get a copy of “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site” this Wednesday at 4 p.m., Scribble Press UWS.

-Jennifer Sarja

May 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Be Superman

Waiting for Superman. Anyone who has seen the movie can’t help but crave to be part of the solution to the chaos that is public schooling in the big city. So, when the opportunity arose for us to work with a group of second graders from the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, an area featured as a potential model for educational reform, we were psyched. 

“You’re the publishing lady!” announced a uniformed kid with a smile as big as his belly.

“I am!” I responded with equal enthusiasm.

And with that, his head disappeared into a large, seemingly organized bucket of folders in his colorful classroom on W. 134th St. He insisted he had something to read to me. While he searched feverishly, another child entered the room and fell onto me with a huge hug.

“We’re so glad you’re here!” she said. “Do you want to see what I wrote?”

India's Poem

A poem by India

The kids’ eagerness to share their month’s worth of poems with a complete stranger made me smile – such confidence. Their teacher and assistants had injected them with pride of accomplishment that made the occasional spelling of brekfrist and masheen wholly unimportant. 

The folder diver finally found his work and pulled out a poem about an airplane. That his teacher had already announced the cadence “1, 2, 3; eyes on me” meant nothing to this little boy as he proudly belted his poem aloud.

Three weeks after I visited the Promise Academy second graders, the 23 writers came to our Upper West Side studio to see exactly how their books would get published. Don’t get me wrong – it was chaos: a tsunami of unbridled creative enthusiasm unleashed in one ferocious burst. The studio manager looked at us for reassurance that all was under control.

For the next two hours, the children set themselves to enhancing their words with colorful pictures and patterns galore. The assortment of pages, some crinkled and stained, were then shuffled together with covers and “About the Author” pages. Intermittently, the young poets disappeared into our backroom to see the book press and various cool machinery that would suck up their imperfect stacks of paper and turn them into actual books. And we watched their eyes fill with wonder.

A book of poetry may not have much to offer the conversation about educational reform, and despite how hard we may work on a given day, none of us at Scribble Press will claim to be Superman. Still, the morning I was “the publishing lady” coupled with the book-making extravaganza reminded me that we all have a little something to offer to the educational process. We all have a match to spark the magic.

And if you don’t believe me, try this:

The next time a child says, “Do you want to see what I wrote?” say yes.

And when he’s done, ask him for his autograph. 

Then watch his spirit soar.

Because that, Superman, is how you get kids to fly.

-Jennifer Sarja

May 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

And the winner is…

Aidan was so thrilled to meet Anna, and she loved congratulating him on his book! “I am happy and excited,” Aidan said.

The votes have been tallied – with a whopping 255 “Likes,” five-year-old Aidan’s book, “How My Implant Changed Me,” has won our eBook Contest! Aidan will receive a publishing party at our New York Upper West Side location at the end of the month, where he’ll sign 20 copies of his book to give to friends and family.

A regular scribbler since our UWS studio opened, Aidan has written more than 10 books. He said he wrote “How My Implant Changed Me” to share his experience of having a cochlear implant.

Aidan wrote about being sad when he couldn’t hear people talking, how he was scared and then brave after going through two surgeries, and how he now loves to talk to his friends!

“I thought it would be a good book and people would know how I was a little boy and could not hear,” Aidan said.

When you create a book at Scribble Press (or by using the Author’s Tool Kit, available for purchase at scribblepress.com), you can turn it into an eBook (for free!), and share it with friends, family and other kids all over the world!

In fact, far away in LA, six-year-old August read Aidan’s story on an iPad and commented, “That was a cool story. I didn’t know you could get an operation to make you hear better.” 

New eBooks are being added everyday, so check back often for other amazing stories by kid authors, and congrats to all Scribblers who entered the contest and received votes!

May 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm 1 comment

Let your kids write on the walls

Want to create a space that will heighten your child’s creativity?

Sometimes, it really is about space. Not the size so much. Just a nook where you can read your favorite book, a favorite chair that slides up to the tabletop just right so you can write with ease, a special lamp that casts light just the right way on the page. The same way we like our “stuff” the way we like it, so too do kids need their space. Especially their creative space.

While having the luxury to gift your child a writer’s lounge or art studio in the home is unlikely, there are some simple things that parents can do create “space” for their young authors and artists.

First things first. You will likely need to embrace the concept of creative chaos – which means this space may not be neat to your typical standards. That does not mean there is no organization. Figure out the tools your child needs and then work together to place these things in an accessible way. Paint some coffee cans to hold the pencils. Put up a shelf or two for the various kinds of paper or art supplies. And then, get your child a tabletop or desk space that is his own. I would argue that a postage stamp-sized surface is better than half of the dining room table – which, let’s face it, either is piled with your own tower of unfinished projects or is cleaned regularly by someone who can’t stand piles at all. This is your child’s space. Let ‘em have it.

Then, let ‘em write on the walls.

Huh?!

Seriously. Get a white board or a large piece of poster-sized paper and put it on the wall. Encourage your child to outline and story bubble and sketch out ideas before sitting down to the creative task at hand. Give him a bulletin board to collect notes and ideas and funny pictures of things that may inspire.

There are so very many reasons to do this. First and foremost, it makes your child’s thinking visible. Even better, it introduces your child to the process of developing and reflecting on ideas before barreling ahead. Regardless of whether your child is a visual or verbal learner, the process helps creative minds purge the clutter. Okay, yes, that means they are purging onto your wall. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. White boards can eventually be erased.

In time, if you pay attention, you might even start to notice some things—like how ideas in your child’s head are best sorted out. Does he use more pictures, shapes, charts, words? Or it a smorgasbord of all of them? When the time comes to help junior get organized with homework and writing assignments, knowing “how” his mind works things out and the tools that work for him will be invaluable.

Rest assured, in time the process will likely come down from the wall and become a bit more mobile (and aesthetically tolerable)—a box of index cards or a notebook to carry around. But for now, let creative chaos spill onto the walls of your child’s creative space. Unlike the art projects that go on the refrigerator door, these musings and pictures are for your child. Judge not. Ideas are supposed to be big and messy. Embrace the chaos.

And if you’re really daring…buy your own white board and see what happens.

March 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

Writing thoughtfully in a digital age

encouraging kids to write thoughtfully

Encourage your kids to practice writing by sending letters or keeping a journal.

We all try to keep our kids offline for as long as possible, but eventually it happens. Facebook status updates, text messaging, Twitter… today’s children are growing up in a 140-character world. The shift in communication has inevitably sparked some debate around whether this abbreviated dialogue is helping or hindering the development of storytelling, writing and literacy skills in children.

It is difficult to believe that children are becoming better writers and readers when single letters (“u,” “r”) stand for words, and when a few letters (BRB, TTYL,) mean complete phrases. These shortcuts are also taking the nuance out of their communication – everyone needs to use the same abbreviations or they lose their meaning. 

It would be pointless to try to force your child to write in complete words or sentences when they communicate online or by text message. Not only would it be near impossible, there is some value to a character or word limit. It forces us to express our thoughts clearly and concisely, which is often the most difficult part about writing. Parents should strive to find a balance between the two extremes. Here are a few things you can do to keep your child writing thoughtfully:

Have her write letters           

  • Instead of catching up with friends and family via e-mail, have your child write letters to extended family, friends who attend different schools and even teachers. While it is easy to write “how r u? i miss u,” when sending an e-mail, your child is unlikely to use such abbreviations when handwriting a letter.

Make personalized cards

  • Avoid buying greeting, birthday and thank you cards from the drugstore and have your child create her own personalized cards. Even if she just writes a sentence or two on each card, it requires much more thought than simply penning a signature.

Encourage her to keep a journal

  • Journal writing is a great in-between to writing in school and texting or Tweeting. Journal writing allows your child to write in an informal, conversational tone while still developing compete thoughts and sentences. She won’t have any teacher specified or character count related restrictions. Plus, while your child will be developing writing skills, it won’t feel like work.

Pose questions that require thoughtful answers

  • Before she can spit out an answer, tell your child to really think about the question and have her write down her response. Questions can be silly (“If you turned into an animal for a day, what would you be and what would you do?”) or serious (“If you could do one thing to make the world better, what would it be and why?”). Even better, write down your own answer to the question and take turns reading aloud your answers. Not only will hearing her own writing help your child become a better writer, you’ll have fun learning about each other.

Check back for tips on leveraging tools like Twitter to help your kids write intelligently while sticking to 140 characters.

March 17, 2011 at 7:06 pm Leave a comment

Spread the creative love this Valentine’s Day

Showing people you love them is just important as saying, “I love you.”  This Valentine’s Day, creating unique and personal cards and gifts to give to loved ones will really show them you care. It’s easy to make gifts in our studio or at home – you just need some markers and little creativity! Try these ideas:

Create mini cards
Mini cards are the perfect sized Valentine’s Day cards. Adorn the front with messages like “Be Mine” or “Happy Valentine’s Day,” and use the back to write an extra personal message to your recipient. Check out our deal on Poppins Perks! You can make 30 mini cards for just $15 while helping a classroom get bookbinding materials. The offer is valid at all Scribble Press locations, so spread the love!

Write a book
Need a gift idea for one very special person? Write and illustrate a book that’s just for him or her. This book, “50 Things We Love About Daddy,” with lines like “Picks out groovy clothes for us” and “Gives the best hugs,” is the perfect mix of silly and sweet – guaranteed to make any dad’s day. If you need some help writing a book, our Cueprint, fill-in-the-blank style books with themes like “I Love You,” will provide some inspiration and help you create the perfect gift. You can also make a Valentine’s book at home by folding some pink and red construction paper in half and stapling them together.

Make a “pocket heart” craft
Cut out two hearts of the same size from construction paper and glue or staple the sides together, leaving the top separated. Decorate the hearts, and then have fun filling the inside of the pocket with candy, stickers, love notes and whatever else you can think of. For more Valentine’s Day crafting ideas, check out our February workshop calendar.

We’ll also be featuring Valentine’s Day on Club Scribble, so come visit the studio and get scribbling! And if you have other fun Valentine’s Day gift ideas, please share them in the comments section!

February 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

What kids are making in their Scribble Press classes

kid authors at work

Kid Authors in class at Scribble Press

It’s the end of the session in Scribble Press’ writing and story classes, and we are amazed by what they have created! This week all the kids – from the 2 year olds in Colors class to the 7th graders in Voluminous Vocabulary – got their finished books – made by them over the course of 12 weeks.  In Colors, the 2-3 year olds created a beautiful book with a page dedicated to their own artwork of each color.  In Great Books, 4-6 year-olds read classic picture books and created art about them.  In Comic Books, 1st-6th graders learned the fine art of telling stories frame by frame and created some brilliant comic stories.  And in Voluminous Vocabulary, middle schoolers created their own cartoon dictionary.  What a great way to have fun with words!

Ebook versions of some of the class books are here – thanks to Gemma, Grace and Grace for letting us share their books!

Check out Gemma’s cool take on “Charlie and Lola” and other books from Great Books class

Read “Yankoidee’s Meanwhile Adventure” by Grace, written in Comic Book class

See how Grace remembers vocabulary words with her Voluminous Vocabulary book

The next class series starts in January – see the classes offered and register your young storytellers, aspiring artists and wordsmiths here!

kids art classes

a young artist having fun

December 10, 2010 at 3:25 am Leave a comment

Meet our staff!

After we made the last customer’s book, swept the glitter off the floor and ordered pizza one night, the entire Scribble Press staff got together to experience what it was like to be a customer. Markers, glue, collage supplies in hand, we found inspiration from our surroundings and each other. Check out some of our cool creations!

Kelly's board bookI chose to write a book using the “If I Were a Rockstar” cueprint. The fill-in-the-blank style of the book helped spark my imagination, which I mixed that with bits and pieces from my real life. The final result was something whimsical but very personal to me… It is officially my new favorite fairytale book! The writing process was a lot of fun, too, and now I understand that excited smile a child gets on his or her face when we hand over their finished product.
Kelly, Santa Monica store

David's placematWhat fun! Sitting down with colleagues, discovering how gifted they all are (far more artistically talented than I), and creating something that my family can enjoy and use as a part of our family dinners together. I went home that night with greater appreciation for my kids artwork and how wonderfully prolific our customers children are and how easily inspiration comes to them in our studio.
David, VP of Operations

Jennifer's board bookWhen we were given a chance to “be a customer,” it was a no-brainer that I’d make a book of family pictures for my dad. Simply titling it “Bob,” I brought it to him in the hospital the next day. Alzheimer’s may have taken away his words, but his smile is ever-present – and his face lit up like a Christmas tree when he looked through the pages. Boy, was I glad I hadn’t just glued the original pictures into an album! (A week or so later, one of the other Alzheimer’s patients walked off with the first copy of book I made.) So, today at work, I’m going to be remaking the book. This time, though, I won’t have just designed it – I’m actually going to build it! I have a sneaking suspicion he’s going to like it just as much the second time.
Jennifer, Director of Educational Programs

Deepa's minicardsI love leaving little notes for my family, friends and boyfriend, so mini-cards were the perfect project. It’s just so much more personal (and looks waaaay cooler) to leave a note on something I created than on a post-it. After starting over several times because my free-hand artistic ability wasn’t cutting it, I found inspiration from our Club Scribble art supplies and created something that’s totally my style – simple, colorful and chic!
Deepa, New York store

Anna's plannerI hadn’t made anything at the store – or even done any drawing – for quite some time, so it was fun to sit down with a bunch of grownups and just be creative. I decided to make a Magical Planner – with a fairy on the front no less – with the idea that any tasks I write down in my magical planner will magically get done. It makes me smile, and every time I look at it I remember to slow down and enjoy what I am doing. Inside all of us is a little kid who just wants to scribble.
Anna, co-founder & CEO

November 10, 2010 at 5:52 pm 2 comments

‘The stuff of great storymaking’

So, I recently watched J.J. Abrams’ speech on the Mystery Box. Here’s the gist: Grandpa gave Abrams a box and it’s gone unopened for decades. His conclusion? Sometimes the best mysteries are the things you’ll never answer.

For someone like myself, and the generation of kids who were bottle-fed instant gratification, there is almost instantaneous frustration at not having answers at the fingertips. We tear open gift wrap, peek at the endings of books, and google breaking news events to imbibe facts before they’re even verified. Our appetite to know now is insatiable. So, when our first ever mystery class at Scribble Press began with the arrival of a mysterious box, I was not sure how the students would react.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Missing Miss Terious Class

Missing Miss Terious class

With detective pads inside, the package instructed students to begin honing their detective skills in order to solve the mysterious disappearance of Miss Mia Terious and a collection of priceless books from the Library of Congress. That the box and subsequent letters with clues had no postmark did not seem to bother anyone. Instead, everyone has managed to suspend disbelief and join us on our leisurely stroll through a slowly-unfolding story. It’s refreshing. Every week, the kids take out their magnifying glass and examine clues as the adventure inspires their own creative endeavors.

Writing is so amazing that way. It’s a journey that can’t be rushed. Like any good detective, we must unravel the story in our heads before it meanders its way onto the paper. When we make time to let it happen organically, the results are extraordinary. Our mystery writers this semester are thinking critically about how the pieces of the case fit together; at the same time, they are filing away devices that may enhance their own tales. I liken my job to that of Dumbledore – I get to teach the magicians the magic. It’s fun to be a writing instructor.

mystery box

Mystery box!


Of course, next week, there is a box arriving for the kids with the singular instruction that the package NOT be opened until December. Will the heretofore unseen frustration flood our class or will the kids embrace the pace of a story not meant to be consumed in one sitting? Something tells me we’re going to be okay.

Let’s face it. The moments before the wrapping paper is torn away are the best. I intend to help my students milk it. After all, the anticipation, the unknown, the possibilities of what may come – they are the stuff of great storymaking.

Jennifer Sarja

October 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

Making every birthday memorable

Party table

“I have pages 1-10 and 13-20 of the ScribLib, but two kids are still working on their art.  Can you start making the books without those?”

“Does anyone know where the extra candles are?”

“The birthday girl changed her mind and doesn’t want anything pink.  Please help me blow up purple balloons and change the tablecloths, quick!”

Birthday parties are always an interesting mix of quick thinking, fast acting, and making magic happen.  When the first Scribble Press opened back in 2008 in Los Angeles, it seemed impossible that we would be able to have 30 kids write and illustrate a book together, and each take home a copy, but we’ve gotten it down to a science.   There’s fun and creativity backed up by a highly streamlined production process, coming together to make magic. 

The other day we hosted Layla’s 8th birthday.  Before the party she and her mother chose to have a ScribLib party and the theme “A Zany Day at the Zoo”.  Happy chaos is the nature of a birthday party – no matter how much we plan there are unknowns.  At the ScribLib parties we have to get the kids to give us words to fill in the blanks of the story.  At Layla’s party, for some reason, all the kids wanted to include the word ‘bikini’ as much as possible.  When we asked for adjectives we heard ‘bikini pink’ and ‘bikini tall’ (nope, they didn’t all make sense!).  The nouns were ‘bikini’ and ‘bikini beach’ and ‘bikini zoo’.  None of us could figure out what the overwhelming interest in bikinis was for, but the kids clearly saw an entertainment factor in the word.

Cake time!

Working with the group and the odd things, like bikinis, that come up is a large part of making the birthday parties successful.  We have a plan going in and a way that we operate, but what is most important is that the birthday girl or boy has a fantastic and memorable birthday.  Having a birthday party but don’t want us to sing happy birthday?  Not a problem.  You want a surprise party for your 4 year old?  Of course.  The kids seem to have ants in their pants?  Let’s have a dance party! 

While the party leaders and assistants are entertaining and having fun with the children the production staff works their magic in the back.  In the span of about an hour they will create 25 books, or 35 notebooks, or 26 placemats.  It may sound like a joke to say they make magic happen, but they truly do.  No matter what the problems with the equipment or confusion of items delivered from the party, the production staff makes sure that the projects are finished in time for the kids to all leave with what they made at the end of the party.

Gift bags for party guests

Once Layla and her friends finished their work on the book they moved on to pizza and dancing.  In the back the production staff began the quick scurrying dance of getting all the books made in less than an hour.  In that span of time they scanned and made multiple copies of the inside pages of the books, designed the cover for the books, cut, bound, and finish trimmed 25 books.  In addition they made a board book of all the birthday wishes that Layla’s friends had drawn for her.  Everything was ready about 15 minutes before the party ended, just in time to be read aloud while the kids enjoyed birthday cake!

When the parties end and the kids go home the staff still has work to do:   putting away all the markers, sweeping the cake bits off the floor, restoring order to the production area, and putting the store back together so it’s in top shape for the next party.  After Layla’s party we got a bit of a treat, though, her parents were nice enough to leave a couple pieces of cake for us!

-Kerry A. Williams
General Manager
Scribble Press NYC

July 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Scribble Press NY Opening

Pencil Bar Scribble Press NY

hard at “work” in the studio

April 24 – what a beautiful day on the upper east side of Manhattan as we cut the ribbon on the brand new Scribble Press NY! 

Scribble kids cutting the ribbon at the new store

Everyone was excited to get inside and start making books.  It was fun to use the brand new studio, marker caddies, and markers.  The 2600 sq foot space seemed cavernously huge! 

A boy making bookmarks at the NYC opening

Some kids chose to make bookmarks or notepads instead of a book, and there was a face painter, jugglers, and a band!  The excitement spilled out onto First Avenue where we were passing out balloons as people left the studio.  The brand-new staff was overwhelmed by the great turnout, but in a good way – pretty much everyone got their books before leaving the store, and we saw many happy faces of newly published authors.  It’s always fun to see a child looking at his or her published book for the first time! 

We’re all in love with the pencil bar and the cozy lounge too, and hoping to bring some of the great ideas we discovered in New York back to our LA location as well.   We’re looking forward to a great summer of writing and creativity on both coasts.  Hope to see you there!

Scribble Press marker wall in New York

May 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat

It’s Theodore Geisel’s 108th birthday today, which is hard to believe given how enduring the Dr. Seuss “oeuvre” has proved itself to be.

The classic books from Cat in the Hat to Go Dog Go are the first loved, chewed on book for many one year olds, the “read it to me again, Mom” for the ten-thousandth time for many three year olds, and the first complete book proudly sounded out by many five year olds. 

These books with their signature rhyming patter also encourage kids to begin writing their own stories.   Dr. Seuss teaches us that all you really need to start writing a stoy is a couple of words that rhyme, or alliterate, or just sound funny together.

Here are a couple of story ideas to get your kids started writing their own stories:

Sit, Cat, Sit  (in the time-honored tradition of ripping off existing books)

My mom met a mummy (you can’t go wrong with alliteration)

There’s junk in my trunk (the kids won;’t appreciate the double entendre, but you will!

And here is an idea from our Inspiration Station that is more open-ended:

What questions would you ask a fairy that causes a lot of trouble?

Happy scribbling!

March 2, 2010 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

Publishing books: a whole new dimension to classes with kids

We are now officially beginning our second session of classes at Scribble Press with our new curriculum and new teachers. The fall semester was a blast – from Colors and Things that Oink, Quack & Moo for the youngest scribblers, to ABCs, Famous Artists and Comic Books for older kids, we explored some great new classes.

Collage painting of goats from Thing That Oink, Quack and Moo (ages 2.5- 4)

Parents and kids alike enjoyed all the elements of the classes, especially the sensory activities for younger children, such as fresh warm play dough, fake mud, colored shaving cream, snow and rice,  and the art activities, like ball painting, stamping, collaging, and watercolors, and, of course, the educational aspects, which, through the use of so many tactile and luminous materials, and, with a gentle hand to guide them, made everything from learning about the alphabet, or colors, or animals, or famous artists, come to life each class in the form of a three dimensional piece of art. And when those works of art, made by each child in every class, were assembled at the end of the session, scanned and then bound into a published book, the pride and sense of wonder that appeared on every childs and every parents face made the whole thing take on a new dimension, the dimension that makes Scribble Press such a unique way to experience classes with children.

Cow collage from Things That Oink, Quack and Moo (ages 2.5 -4)

My own two year old still walks around our house, several weeks after she received her “Colors of My World” book, showing off her accomplishment. She shows her grandma every time she comes over and they sit together and read the book and marvel at it each time, getting extra pleasure from the “About the Author” section, which has my daughter’s cagey picture in it and few choice words about her current life as a published toddler author/ artist. From first hand experience as the Mom of a student in a Scribble Press class, not just as a member of the Scribble Press team, I can attest to what a fun and educational way these classes are to spend time with your little ones!

Cover of book made by 2 1/2 year old in "Colors of My World" class

Coming up this next semester, we have some brand new classes, including:

Yummy:  Cooking From Around the World (3-5 year olds)

Weird Science (4-6 year olds)

Graffiti/Poetry (3rd-5th grade)

Friendship Club (girls 3rd-5th grade)

The new session starts on Monday, January 11. See you there!

Christy, Creative Director

January 8, 2010 at 3:37 am Leave a comment

Britney’s birthday book

Last week we were asked to make a book for Britney Spears containing the birthday wishes from her fans that were tweeted to her. The book turned out beautifully, and of course who wouldn’t want a book full of people saying nice things about you?

What’s really interesting about this, however, is that it’s a traditional book made with content from social media. We’ve all heard the moaning about how new technologies such as the Kindle and Google Books signal the death of the good old cloth-bound version. No one is going to want to spend money on an actual book when they can download it, right?

That may be true for your average trashy novel or how-to guide, but for the books that have emotional resonance nothing will ever be quite as good as words printed on paper. On my bookshelf I’ve got the story of my life in books – my original copy of Macbeth with my chicken scratch 9th grade notes in the margin, my Constitutional Law textbook from my first year in law school, and hundreds of novels and classics that have meant something to me over the years. None of these books could ever be replaced by an electronic version, and I’ll cart them with me from house to house wherever our family may move.

Tweets from your fans are nice, but putting them into a book gives them a power and permanence that a web page can’t provide. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to be able to fill an entire book with birthday wishes from people we don’t know; if you happen to be one of the few who is, then put those great words in a book and keep it on your coffee table.

You can see more of Britney’s book on her website:

December 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Gadgetless creativity, who would guess?

There was a girl in the store today who sat for two hours and wrote and illustrated her book. For two whole hours, she sat, pens and pencil in hand, with her own thoughts, uninterrupted by the television, the computer, video games, an Ipod, Mom, Dad, sister, brother, dog, neighbor….and she was singing and smiling the whole time! Amazing!! Her output was not a 40 word twit, or a rushed text or self-indulged blog entry. It was a book. And the book made perfect sense. It was a story with a beginning, middle and end, and illustrations to boot!! Yesterday, two three year olds did a similarly amazing thing- they sat for several hours and made art. They collaged and glittered and glued and they were perfectly happy and not at all distracted. That’s what I love about Scribble Press. The low-tech approach to the brain and creativity. A chance to have a thought and stick with it. A chance to follow through, to use your imagination and not be distracted by all the technological noise that clutters our kids minds even when they are in their own homes. Scribble kids amaze me. They are kids who can sit with their thoughts for longer than two minutes. People think kids these days can’t do these things. Gadgetless creativity, who would guess? But they can, and they do every day at Scribble Press. Christy, Creative Director

November 24, 2009 at 3:31 am Leave a comment

Kid-Sizing the New Custom Publishing

Two young authors showing off their published books

Self-publishing companies like Blurb, Lulu and ibook have experienced strong growth in the past few years, providing one of the few bright spots in the consumer economy.  There are a few reasons for this growth: software platforms are more user-friendly; variable printing technologies have advanced so that a single hardcover books can be produced at a cost previously available only to large publishing houses doing 10,000 copy runs; and consumers have gotten used to the idea that they can go online and create their own photobook or cookbook or offer their unpublished novel for sale to the general public.  

As Eileen Gittins, CEO of  Blurb pointed out in her recent blog entry on Huffingtonpost , we  are all storytelling creatures.  Since cave paintings we have wanted to describe, explain and put our own personal spin on the world around us in words and pictures.  Self-publishing is growing because people need to construct our stories and share them with the world. 

And none of us enjoy making up a story more than a kid does.   From the moment she can scribble with a crayon on the back of a menu a child tells stories.  I spent a lot of my time at my progressive New York City grade school writing books on construction paper, illustrating them and binding them with thread and remnant cloth covers.  My 5 year old son right now is drawing very complex monsters with huge backstories related to garbage trucks.  The last book he created was an almanac of monsters. 

When I founded Scribble Press (www.scribblepress.com) with Darcy Pollack two years ago, we wanted to make it fun and easy for kids to do what they are already doing – writing and drawing – and turn their stories into professionally bound books.  Scribble Press is a retail concept store where kids write and illustrate books that are “published” while you wait.  Kids can drop in to do it, or take classes or have parties – all focused on making books. We have taken a really low tech approach to creating books – they are written and illustrated by hand with markers and pencils.  The high-tech piece comes with the bookbinding – we create covers with actual author photos and typeset title blocks, and bind the books with a proprietary “board book” method that gives the pages a satisfying weight. 

 We think this lower-tech system is the right approach because it reflects the way kids like to create stories.  Most kids who sit down at Scribble Press to write a book don’t know what story they are going to write until they start drawing, and the story comes out of the drawing.   The tactile aspect seems to be key to the creative process, and so we purposely have no computers in our studio – just art supplies.  It’s a sort of MyGym for the mind, or a Color Me Mine for the book loving set. 

Some kids create books with two pages that take 15 minutes to write, and we’ve had kids come back as many as five or six times and spend upwards of ten hours creating a book.  But whether they spend a lot of time or a little, the sense of accomplishment is the same.  Seeing the pride and joy on the face of a child being handed her first professionally published creation is incredibly rewarding. 

In addition to the sense of confidence and accomplishment that self-publishing give to kids, there is a strong educational rationale for making self-publishing kid-friendly.  Leadership consultants like Stephen Denning (www.stevedenning.com) actually offer storytelling workshops for CEOs; being able to communicate a good story is a key leadership quality.   Daniel Pink (www.danpink.com), in his bestselling book A Whole New Mind, argues that the key skills of the 21st century are right-brain skills such as brainstorming and storytelling, rather than left-brain skills such as retaining information and solving math problems.  

Writing is also a great way to encourage reading.  There is a stack of books my 5 year old likes to read to me every night.  The same six books – all books that he “wrote” and illustrated himself in his kindergarten class.  The connection a child has to a book that he or she made really makes the words come to life. 

These creative muscles benefit from exercise.  Getting kids in the habit of writing their own stories from the time they can draw a stick figure is one of the greatest educational gifts we can give them.   Many elementary schools – such as my son’s LAUSD classroom – are beginning to include bookmaking as a central way to deliver curriculum.  To support book publishing in the school system, in 2010 we are launching a major philanthropic initiative to give every 3rd grade student in the Los Angeles Unified elementary school system access to Scribble Press publishing. 

Hotel for Dogs by a kid author

This 6 year old writer has published 5 books already

We ought to be working as a society to harness new emerging creative technologies for educational benefit, and Scribble Press aims to be a leader in that arena for kids personal publishing.

- Anna Barber, co-founder and CEO, Scribble Press

November 12, 2009 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment

E! That Morning Show Visits Scribble Press

E!  Correspondent Scott Cushing and producer Peter Glowski visited Scribble Press last week and shot a really funny segment for That Morning Show. Scott Cushing and the book he wrote about Mark Long

There were a bunch of Scribble Press regulars there – kids – and they didn’t know quite what to make of Scott or the camera, which made it even funnier.   Scott wrote a book during his visit about his rivalry with another E! correspondent, Mark Long.  The book turned out great and we are selling copies of it on our website, with part of the proceeds going to benefit LA Family Housing.  Scott has a youtube channel -
 
and you can buy copies of the book he wrote at http://scribblepress.com   – also see the video there!  Thanks for coming in, guys – we had a great time!

October 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Learning about Color with Shaving Cream

 

Everyone enjoying shaving cream at our Colors class

Everyone enjoying shaving cream at our Colors class

From guest blogger Christy, our director of marketing:

 

Spent a fantastic hour with my toddler yesterday in the Scribblets Colors class. Made an amazing red painting for her book. Can’t wait to show it off to the family! Read a great book, sang songs….and, best of all, learned about colors by dropping watercolors into mounds of shaving cream and using our hands to mix it! The moms had a blast, the kids were laughing….everyone was smiling and everyone left in a little bit of a brighter mood! What a way to start the day! That’s what it’s all about!

 

This is what art class is all about!
This is what art class is all about!

From some other parents:

“I love the format and pace of this class.  The kids are entertained the whole time.  My son can’t wait to go back every week.” – Darrin, mom of 2-year-old boy
“My daughter came home and said to her brothers: “do you guys know who Van Gogh is, because I DO!” – Jennifer, mom of kindergarten girl

October 5, 2009 at 11:14 pm Leave a comment

News from our brand-new preschool and elementary level classes

Painting with trucks in Colors Class

Painting with trucks in Colors Class

Photos from our first-ever class in the new Montana Avenue location! Toddler Art Class - Blue!Preschool Colors Class - storytime! This class is Scribblets: Colors – a class for kids 2-3.5.  The 9 kids in this class had a great time creating a blue page for their color book, hunting for blue treasures around the store, reading about the little blue truck and playing trucks in the big rice bin….Next up – yellow!!

We are offering free trials on all our classes – ABCs for the 4 and 5 set, Things that Oink & Quack & Moo, Creative Writing for K – 2nd grade, comic books and Famous Artists. 

We’d love to hear your feedback on the classes and to see you here for a trial!

Anna, Christy, Erin, Kerry, Carita, Adam, Brian and the rest of the Classes team

September 14, 2009 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

Scribble Press Grand Opening Montana Avenue

face painting at Scribble Press Grand Opening

August 13, 2009 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Making Books at the Leimert Park Book Fair

Making instant board books with kids from Leimert Park area

Making instant board books with kids from Leimert Park area

We had a great time last weekend at the Leimert Park Book Fair making board books with kids.  The kids wrote and illustrated their books and we turned them into books while they watched.  Just over 200 kids were able to make a book (and some grown-ups as well).  A special thanks to Fair organizer Cynthia Exum and to Nestle for sponsoring the Scribble Press Book Booth.  We saw books of all kinds – many kids made “All About Me” and many others made up their own stories from scratch.  And they all walked away with their professionally bound books!

June 15, 2009 at 9:41 pm 1 comment

What Happens at Scribble Press

hard at work on the chihuahua that looks like a cat
hard at work on the chihuahua that looks like a cat
Scribble Press is the first place we know of where you can write and illustrate a book and take home a professionally bound copy within a half hour.  Kids arrive with an idea of a book they might want to write, or no idea at all.   They choose the color of their book, and whether they want a fill-in-the-blank Cueprint, or the excitement of the plain white page.   We take their author photo, then print it on the cover color of their choice.  The author selects from the massive wall of sharpies (did you know Sharpies come in 39 colors????? And we have all of them!), fill their caddy up, and sit down at a custom-made slanted artists desk to create their masterpiece.  Once the book is written and illustrated, it takes between 15 minutes and a half-hour to bind it into a beautiful, sturdy boardbook or paperback. 
That’s the basic idea.  If you don’t want to write a whole book, you can make a notepad, a placemat, notecards or just come in and doodle.   There’s more information on the website (http://scribblepress.com). 

December 4, 2008 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

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