Using artwork from talented illustrators, Storybird allows users to create and display narratives of their own choosing. The site and its library of stories are currently particularly suitable for younger Internet and iPhone users. Best of all is the "story maker" section of the site, which allows users to drag and drop images, edit text, and create customizable stories to share with friends and family.
Collaboration is as simple as inviting others via email to edit a story. Users take turns finishing a story in a fashion reminiscent of storytelling games played by children with insufficient access to televisions.
Users can also create reading lists of stories for sharing and later perusal. Stories are rated for particular age groups, as well. Both of these features signal this site's usefulness in the classroom.
For more specifics on how to use the site to read and create stories, check out this demo video:
Creating stories was remarkably simple. We would have preferred better sorting of artwork by keywords or - better yet - a search function, either for artwork or for story subjects. For in-class use especially, the site must be searchable and results must be fairly accurate; it took us some time to even find stories grouped by tag. And we would love to see more sharing options for stories, including embedding options.
Still, we loved this item from the Storybird blog about a three-and-a-half year old boy who was told about the site while in the middle of his evening bath:
When asked "would you like to make a story with your dad?" Josh squealed "yes!" and proceeded to hop out of the bath, still dirty and soaking. "I'm finished! I'm finished!" he insisted. Five minutes later with hair still wet he produced his first Storybird. He made another one before bed, then demanded his dad read him all the Storybirds in the public library. In the morning, he woke up to say "I want to make a Storybird."
All inherent charm aside, Storybird is simple and intuitive enough to encourage read/write thinking and action in the youngest of Internet users, which is something we applaud and encourage.
The site, which went live last Friday, September 4, is in its first version (the team has decided that the term "beta" is beyond overused). We found Storybird via the Go2Web20 directory.