How an entire class became published authors

Mira CampbellBlog, Collaboration, Library, Publishing

A whole class of authors, a book launch, and a day of celebration! Mira Campbell discusses her latest innovative Book Creator project.

Nori MiwaCo-author: Nori Miwa is a Junior Teacher at F. H. Miller. She has been teaching in the TDSB for 11 years and at Miller for 4. She enjoys creating a classroom community where students’ voices are heard and their interests celebrated. She believes in social justice and the importance of extra-curricular activities. She is often seen happily coaching throughout the year!

I am often asked where our project inspirations come from. The answer varies depending on the project. One thing that is a constant, is how a small idea often grows into a much larger project.

With Book Creator there are so many tools and ways to be creative, that it’s hard to stop!

Furthermore, as teachers, we know time is a precious commodity so these projects need to incorporate many different curriculum strands. I love how Book Creator gives you the option to add a wide range of media into projects which allows students to demonstrate learning in many ways.

This was a library partnership project with Nori Miwa’s Grade 4 class at FH Miller Jr PS in Toronto, Ontario. It culminated with an epic celebration and our biggest reveal to date! Let’s take a closer look.

How it started

We are huge fans of the Creepy Tales book series written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. The latest in the series, Creepy Crayon, ended on a cliffhanger that captured our students' attention. They immediately had ideas about what would happen in the sequel and with that, our creative writing project was born!

The students began by sketching their ideas on paper.

We also introduced a graphic organizer to support their story writing.


We always find scaffolding their writing this way is necessary to plan and write a great story. Despite our best efforts modelling how to use it, we noticed that our students were still writing in sentences instead of point form notes.

As a class we filled out the first few boxes in the graphic organizer. That way students who required more support, could use some of the ideas we generated as a class while others completed with their own ideas.

After a few periods of brainstorming, we came back as a group.


We reviewed some writing techniques such as show don’t tell, where the reader experiences things through the character’s actions, emotions, and/or even sensory details without being directly told by the author. For some students, we scaffolded the writing even more by videotaping them acting out scenes so they could watch it back and write that part of their story.

It’s fascinating to see which tools students gravitate towards. Having choice clearly appeals to their different learning styles and strengths. Through this Universal Design for Learning framework all students have an opportunity to be successful. Below is a video of the students working during the early planning stages.

We spent a long time in the planning phase and gave feedback directly into the Google Docs. Some students required prompting to stretch their ideas out. Nori and I would conference with individual students while the others were working.

Revising is often the students’ least favourite part of the process. We try to encourage them by explaining that professional authors can spend years working on a story.


Furthermore, one of the most motivating aspects of Book Creator is the ability to publish books and share worldwide.

Students do their best work when they know that there is an authentic audience… Especially when there is a chance the author of the book will see their work (see celebrations).

Let the creating begin!

Once they had their final versions of their stories, they were ready to use Book Creator. As we know, students are never at the same stage in a project as they all learn and work at their own pace. That wasn’t an issue because with Book Creator they are able to work independently with ease.

There are so many built-in features to support them (e.g. speech to text, built in safe image search, drawing tools, ability to record their voice, and more) For students who required more time and support, we had them focus on polishing their story beginning. We referred to those as “under construction” and ended them with: To be Continued.

One surprise of this was several of these students told us in the project reflection that they would like to finish their stories. For students who are reluctant writers this warmed our hearts!

Book Creator in action

Take a look behind the scenes with the class using graphic organizers, sketching ideas, and creating digital drawings in Book Creator.


Our students love the collaboration features in Book Creator. We all work in a shared library so they can see each other's stories and how they are progressing. It helps support students who might be stuck, but also can inspire them!

You might think writing from the same cliffhanger would mean their stories would look similar, but you’d be wrong! That’s my favourite part about Book Creator. Even though we started from the same place, their individual styles always shine!

We also had a very funny misunderstanding, which turned into a wonderful opportunity for collaboration. Two of our students thought when we said this was a “Library Partnership” project, that it meant they could work in pairs. We were referring to how Nori, their classroom teacher, and myself, the Teacher-Librarian, would be collaborating. However, they were set on the idea, so we ran with it. Their partnership on this project turned out to be one of the highlights of the project that many of their classmates commented on in their reflection!

Digital drawings

Our students approached illustrating their book in different ways: Autodraw feature, adding real images, drawing in the app with the Pen Tool, using a stylus and drawing pad and one preferred Sketchbook Pro app and uploaded finished drawings right into her book.


Surprise guest author

As we were approaching the end of the project, we were planning our surprise celebration. We were so proud of their hard work and dedication to revising their work over the course of a couple months. We decided a fitting tribute would be to have a Book Launch where they would read an excerpt from their book to all the classes in the school.

We devised a plan where we told them that there was going to be a special guest author coming to the Miller Library. We even created a poster set out weeks in advance.

The plan all along was that our students would enter the room and realize THEY were the guest authors!

This was a tall feat to schedule with all the classes and keep our Grade 4s in the dark. We even enlisted their parents to make sure nobody would miss the special day.

To our delight, the surprise went off without a hitch. We said earlier it was our biggest reveal to date and that was due to the sheer number of planned surprises. So many in fact that we had to write out a detailed schedule and make it a whole day!


One of the students in the class moved to New Zealand near the end of the project. We wanted to include her so we even had to coordinate an international Zoom with a huge time difference AND find a way to mail a package in time. Somehow all the pieces fell into place.

Book Launch Preparation

We needed the students to be prepared to read their stories in front of classes without knowing why. Having students practise reading with expression and fluency is not always easy. Many read quickly, with little expression and said they were done.

So we were a little sneaky and had them record an audiobook!

By recording each page of their story and listening back to it, they even started to tell us when they needed to re-record. Again, knowing that this too would be shared outside the school was a motivating factor.

Day of the celebration

We really wanted to set the stage for this book launch so we transformed the Library to celebrate the release of their book. We set up chairs facing a podium and had a wireless microphone. We decorated the room by hanging purple and gold tinsel from our green screen stand, a red carpet and we even rented a giant purple crayon!

We created author ribbons attached to a Book Creator button for them to wear for the day. We had coordinated with their parents ahead of time and told them to wear “fancy clothes” for this special occasion.

Teacher Tip: Check out your local prop rental store. We were able to rent the purple crayon for a small fee for a week from the Prop Room in Toronto.

Watch the reels to get the full experience as our students did!

Connecting with authors

For this creative writing project, we combined all the individual stories into one class book. We also like to document the project journey so it’s not just about the final product. We try to include photos and videos to capture key stages. We also include curriculum expectations at the end to highlight all the skills our students learned.

When we use a mentor text like in this project, we always love to share our students’ work with the author and illustrator. We were truly amazed when Aaron Reynolds sent a personalized video to our students. You can see by our students’ reactions in this reel, that they too, were blown away!

Illustrator Peter Brown also sent a lovely message to our students. The impact that this has cannot be ignored. We truly think it will stay with them forever. They see themselves as real published authors! They also have a solid understanding of the work that goes into writing, illustrating and publishing a book!

A toast to the authors

Before the classes came to the Library for the Book Launch we had a quick toast to their success. We even had some special cookies that were created based on one students’ story. When she saw them she shouted, “ The evil cookies came to life!”

Reading their books and Q&A

The students blew us away with their confidence and ability to get up in front of all their peers and share their stories. They answered questions about the project with ease. We couldn’t have been prouder.


In the afternoon, we had a special Zoom call with their classmate in New Zealand. We of course wanted to surprise the students. You can see their reactions in the reels.

Afterwards, they each got a printed copy of their books and we added the class book to our library collection of student-made books. We even mailed a copy to our student in New Zealand!

At the end of the day, we told them about the final surprise! They were going to have a Press Day where two members of the Book Creator team were going to interview them! It was the perfect way to end the project.

These authentic experiences where students get to interact with professionals in the field are very impactful and support development of communication skills (e.g., listen actively and ask questions). Once again they spoke about their work and answered questions. Jon from Book Creator said, “This group is going to change the world” and we couldn’t agree more!

Parent engagement

Parents followed along on the journey through social media and were part of the surprise. They all managed to keep it a secret from their children. The parent who is in New Zealand was also live messaging the rest of the parents through What’s App!

I don’t think the importance of the partnership with parents can be emphasized enough. Our parents are extremely supportive and really value these projects. They tell us how their children’s confidence has grown and appreciate all the digital literacy skills they're learning.

"These books showcase each of the students' unique writing and illustration styles. i can't wait to see what wonderful books the students write next!"
Anne-Marie, Gr 4 FH Miller Parent
"We appreciate all the hard work you two have put into making this an exciting and wonderful experience for the Grade 4 students."
Anne-Marie, Gr 4 FH Miller Parent
"The Creepy Crayon project was such a wonderful enterprise that just kept growing and growing! From the initial steps of writing the stories and using Book Creator to the big reveal, celebration and 'press day' - the students were engaged and enthusiastic every step of the way. This project really made them all shine!"
Blanche Messham, Gr 4 FH Miller Parent
"We were so very honoured to be part of the Book Creator 'Press Day' all the way from New Zealand! It was so worth the early wake up call. Iyla was so happy to be able to complete the project she began before she left. It is truly an amazing app that really inspires my girls to create. It also helps to have such dedicated teachers to let their imaginations run wild. Thank you for everything you do, even from halfway around the world!"
Aparna Guha, Gr 4 FH Miller Parent
"The entire Creepy Crayon Book Creator project at FH Miller was a fantastic experience for the students, parents, and anyone who was fortunate enough to read the masterful creations which resulted. When we thought Xavier was playing video games on his laptop after school, he was actually spending time working on his Creepy Crayon Book Creator project. And the results were so rewarding. Huge thanks to the FH Miller educators for all their effort to celebrate these children and their creativity."
Jeremy Swampillai, Gr 4 FH Miller Parent
"We are just amazed at this whole project. The creativity it encourages in the kids, and the sense of accomplishment at seeing and hearing their own work in book form, are such essential aspects of education. And then to have their work celebrated the way it was - they will remember that forever, and carry that feeling of school as a fun and supportive place where their hard work is recognized and rewarded. The book and the poster are such special pieces of memorabilia from this year, and our littler kid loves reading her big sister's version of The Creepy Crayon!"
Sam Bernstein, Gr 4 FH Miller Parent
"Book Creator is not just an app, it's an adventure! My son enjoyed every step on shaping his own second part version of The Creepy Crayon, from writing, to editing, to drawing and even adding his own voice! His skills were continuously developing, his imagination, focusing and creativity among others. The joy he has for participating on such an extraordinary project is unbeatable! Now he is thinking on part 3, and as parents we cannot be more proud! We love Book Creator!"
Ema Chazarreta, Gr 4 FH Miller Parent
"My son said he feels proud of producing a book that others can enjoy and that he is a 'published author'. As a parent, I think it's amazing you're teaching kids skills that will enhance their life in the future and real world."
Darlin Dalecio, Gr 4 Fh Miller Parent


    The goal of this project was to create an inclusive learning opportunity for our students with multiple entry points, while also allowing them to express their creativity and share their voice.

    This learning experience was enhanced by the use of digital tools which allowed us to connect with each and every student to ensure they feel joy, belonging and academic achievement.

    There is no denying this when you see how our students' faces beamed with pride during the Book Launch celebration!

    When we started this project we had no idea where it would lead and all the learning opportunities that would come from it. That is the beauty of Library Partnership projects. They evolve based on our students’ interests and engagement. Through collaboration, we always achieve more together and it makes the experience more meaningful for both teachers and students. We hope that the impact of these projects stay with them and inspire future authors and illustrators!


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