This accessible digital book was created using iBooks Author. (Step-by-step directions on how to use iBooks Author here.) iBooks Author is currently the only book app that enables users to add accessible multiple choice questions. The Ladybugs book was created for emerging/young readers. Anyone can create accessible books - including educators, family members, students, and volunteers. When creating a book, first determine the age group, topic, and if appropriate, goal of the book.
Books for emerging readers often include a single word, sight words or repetitive words/phrases. The sound clips provide clues about the words/sentences, just like the image provides clues for sighted emerging readers. Short story books - like the Ladybug book - may include fun facts, a sentence or two on each page, images with alt text descriptions, and simple multiple choice questions. Chapter books, geared for older students, may includes pages of text with an occassional picture or sound clip, and more challenging, thought-provoking questions. This post will focus on a short story with fun facts for an young reader.
Note: While a book might be created specifically for a target age group, often the book can be used by a broader audience, depending how the book is used. Example: The Ladybug book was created for a student who is an early reader. This student accessed the book on her braille display with VoiceOver muted. However, an emerging reader (who is not yet reading sentences) might want to listen to this book. That emerging reader student might use the book to teach tech goals, listening skills, to build vocabulary or to learn fun facts.
Early elementary students are reading about all kinds of fun facts - often the topics are animal related. Topics can also be based on holidays, history, science, etc. To find fun facts, pick a topic. Do an internet search about that topic. If the book is for younger students, then define your search for "children" or even a specifc grade level. This will help to find facts, terms and wording appropriate for that age group. For photos, take your own pictures or go to a copyright free website such as Pixabay.com. (Note: images found from a general internet search will probably be copyrighted!)
Keep in mind what your goal is for the book. Are you building vocabulary? If so, embed glossary terms into your book. Are you working on comprehension? If so, embed accessible multiple choice or true false questions. Be sure the questions are written with age appropriate words and skill levels! Sometimes the goal is tech-related or reading related, in which case, how you use the book is more important than how you write the book.
Note: As educators and family members, our goal is to provide fun books that will spark a child's interest and turn the child on to the joys of reading!
Creating the Content
When I create a book, I tend to have a particular student in mind (or age group), choose a topic, find the fun facts, write my story in a Word document, and then download corresponding images on my desktop. Next, I open iBooks Author, choose a template and copy/paste the content. Remember: Do not use Drag-and-Drop to add images, as you cannot add alt text descriptions! Use the Widget > Image Gallery to add images and then be sure to add alt text descriptions! With the Ladybugs book, I intentionally added a few extra fun facts in the alt text descriptions - only students who listen to the alt text descriptions will get these extra tidbits! (Hmm, if the goal is to teach students to use alt text descriptions, adding extra tidbits can be a fun way to encourage students to listen to these descriptions!) Be sure to add in a couple of comprehension questions! If you are new to using iBooks Author, then open the post with step-by-step directions - leave that post up on your desk top while you create your book.
Note: Always add alt text descriptions - even if your specific student is not using a screen reader! As educators, we should make ALL our materials accessible. You never know when you will need a fully accessible book!
This Ladybug book took me less than 30 minutes to create. Most of that time was spent getting carried away with searching the internet for fun facts and images!
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Download the accessible Ladybugs book here. The book is designed to be opened in Apple Books (previously called iBooks).