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Kid in Story Book Maker is a personalized story creator for children and their parents, educators or SLPs

Kid in Story Book Maker by Locomotive Labs is an iPad app for children and adults to use together to create a story. More than just a plain-text page turner, Kid in Story Book Maker allows you to insert the image of the child into the story and to record voice-over narration for each page. It's your own personal storybook maker that can be used for creative storytelling or more focused instruction by educators and speech-language pathologists (SLPs).

The central purpose of Kid in Story Book Maker is the ability to create a personalized story. The developers have created tutorial videos to walk you through the steps, and the process is relatively easy. Templates make it simple for you to get started, but at this time there are not many choices. The developers at Locomotive Labs invite users to share their original stories, so hopefully the Kid in Story template library will expand. Users also have the option to create a story from scratch, but that process is a bit more involved.

Once you have the framework of a story in place, you can start building the pages. You can retrieve a picture from your own photo library or take pictures of your child as the story is being created. Image-detection technology isolates only the child and superimposes his or her portrait onto the page of the story. Sound can be added to narrate the page and text may be added or edited to the story pages.

One improvement the creators might consider is allowing more than one audio recording per page. When an adult records his or her own voice, this is not a problem. However, when a child attempts to record the narrative on a page, it can be challenging for those struggling with verbal recall, sentence formulation and word retrieval. For a simple narrative such as "This is my happy face," it is not a problem. On the other hand, generating a longer or more complex narrative can be an issue for children with speech and language delays.

Another factor to consider is time. Although adding and editing the photos to the pages are relatively simple tasks, this can take time. If the adult user is a care provider or SLP, he or she may need to do work outside of the session since it can take valuable time away from the session and it may be hard to justify this cost to third-party payers. This is certainly true if an original story is being created.

When you are done with a story, you can share it via email or Dropbox. The story is saved as a Kid In Story book file (.kis) and requires the recipient to have an iPad or iPhone with Kid in Story installed. The story also can be sent as a PDF file, but the audio narration will be lost in the conversion.

The Kid in Story Book Maker app is a useful tool for preschool and elementary-aged children. It has clear benefits for children with autism and can also capture the attention of other children who may resist listening to stories or story retelling activities. The older the child, the more likely he or she can be involved in the actual process of creating the story. This format allows the child to be engaged with the visual and auditory narrative, and can motivate an otherwise resistive child.

In addition, Kid in Story commands the visual attention of a child while trying to teach specific behavioral concepts like sharing. Frequently, the child's usual avoidance strategies are reduced or eliminated. The app can be used with children who are having difficulty reading or who avoid reading activities. Since the user can control the text, it allows a great deal of flexibility as to the content and complexity of the story.

Another popular usage of the app is to create social stories for a child who may need pre-teaching or preparation for events. This includes, but is not limited to, children on the autism spectrum. The Kid in Story app also is being used by SLPs, educators and parents to teach specific skills to a child or children. Some of these can include teaching linguistic concepts such as prepositions (spatial concepts), pronoun usage, descriptive and other early academic concepts. It can even be used as an activity to facilitate speech sound articulation skills at the phrase, sentence or paragraph level.

Kid in Story Book Maker by Locomotive Labs is available for US$6.99 (right now it is on sale for free) in the iOS App Store.

Speech-language pathology analysis provided by Clare Clifford, CCC-SLP at OT To Play.

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