a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Mar, 2014

A project for creative kids… and a giveaway to help you do it!

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Giveaways and product reviews

I think that one of our jobs as parents is to help our kids achieve the things that they want to achieve. This is why we do things like drive them to their various lessons/activities/sports camps, sit in the rain/bleachers/boiling sun while they pursue said activity… help them with their homework, and generally just Give Them a Leg Up when we can.

What if your child has creative and artistic inclinations? Well, we take them to concerts and museums, watch great films together, let them doodle and paint and track glitter all over the house, and then some. So when Blurb contacted me with an idea that furthers our goal of fostering the creative spirit at home, well, I had to share it here.*

Some of you already know that you can print your own photo books with Blurb. We’ve been making one every Christmas for my inlaws since the girls were small. Each one is a compendium of that year’s best photo moments, and after all these years it’s turned out to be a really neat way of tracking our family history. But there’s so much more potential when it comes to self-publishing, and not just in the area of photo books. Children’s books are apparently one of the fastest-growing categories of self-publishing, but have you ever thought of handing the reign over to your kids and seeing what THEY can create? Kids can be authors and illustrators too, and who knows, once they see their name in print it might inspire them to become writers, designers, or photographers.

Blurb gave us a promo code to try their service, which we haven’t cashed in yet, but we will. We gifted it to our youngest, who spent most of March Break writing and revising a novella. (I am not even kidding.) She has learned so much during this process: character development, settings, present v. past tense, not to mention hard-core spelling and grammar practice … but the biggest lesson of all has been that it’s a lot of work to write and illustrate her book. She’s still not done – BUT – there is a cover:


After it’s been edited we’ll lay it out together using Blurb’s templates. Which I think will be fun.

Here are a few ideas off the top of my head if you’d like to get your kids involved in a self-publishing project.

  • Do you have a favourite family bedtime story, one that’s special to your family? Write it down and get your child to illustrate it.
  • Younger kids might enjoy helping write and illustrate a counting or ABC book. If your child is a bit older, they can write their own story, or maybe a collection of short stories, or poems, or favourite family memories.
  • Compile a bunch of photos from a recent family holiday and have your child write the text to go with each photo.
  • Jot down your favourite recipes, take photos, and use them to create your own family cookbook.  This may be a good opportunity to immortalize grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe!
  • Does your child crank out a lot of artwork at preschool? Take high-res photos of a few favourites (HA. Just TRY and narrow it down to 40-50) and have your child explain the meaning behind each one.

This is only scratching the surface. I’m sure there are a million other great kid-friendly publishing ideas out there!

Would you like to try Blurb out for yourself? If so, read on:

  • This giveaway is for a $40 promo code to redeem for a printed book at Blurb.
  • In order for your entry to qualify, please leave a comment below telling me what you’d make if you won.
  • For a second entry, leave a comment on this Facebook post. (But don’t forget to let me know that you did that in a second, separate comment below.)
  • This giveaway open to Canadian residents but is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason you can email it to me for posting at andrea at quietfish dot com. Please note, I cannot be responsible if your entry is misdirected or gets stuck in my Spam folder!
  • I will draw one name using Random.org at noon EST on March 25.

*Transparency alert! Although Blurb gave us a promo code in order to make a book, these opinions are my own. As always.  

34 Responses to "A project for creative kids… and a giveaway to help you do it!"

1 | Milkfacemama

March 18th, 2014 at 12:58 pm


Oh, this is so timely! My 10 year old has been writing poems and really wants to publish them :)

2 | Vivian

March 18th, 2014 at 1:13 pm


My 7-year-old is very much into writing his own books right now. Self-publishing so far, has meant 3 sheets of letter-sized paper, folded in half and stapled. His break-away hit, “Grass on a house” was read to his class, and they loved it. Parental reviewers both gave the book 5 stars ;)

So if I won, naturally I’d have to give it to him so that he could publish a sturdier copy of one of his books.

3 | Vivian

March 18th, 2014 at 1:14 pm


And, I just commented on your Facebook post. :) Thanks Andrea!

4 | Lynn

March 18th, 2014 at 1:34 pm


I loooove Blurb, I recommend them to everyone who will listen. I’ve used them to publish my blog books – my favourite blog posts each year, bound up with my favourite photos of the year. So absolutely worth it. Blurb on!

5 | Cath

March 18th, 2014 at 2:18 pm


Wow – this speaks exactly to my daughter’s 3 stated life goals (as of yesterday) — publish a book, win a highland trophy, and never die. :) I would set her loose to publish any one of her favourite stories, likely Candyland!

6 | Write on !

March 18th, 2014 at 2:30 pm


This sounds great ! I would make a book of various little drawings, designs, stories my girls have created over the years. Good idea !

7 | Nikki

March 18th, 2014 at 2:36 pm


I would love to sit down with my 4 year old and make a book about our recent Disney vacation!

8 | Nikki

March 18th, 2014 at 2:38 pm


I commented on FB too. :)

9 | Faustina

March 18th, 2014 at 2:56 pm


I would hand the promo code over the my 12 year old and let her publish as many of her (many) manga cartoons as she can fit into one book. She has stacks of sketch pads filled with the adventures of Fluffy the Rabbit and his friend Puff the puff, and other characters she’s created who live in a world of goofy forest animals.

10 | Faustina

March 18th, 2014 at 2:57 pm


I commented on FB as well. Cheers!

11 | Brenda A

March 18th, 2014 at 4:05 pm


Blurb is the BEST photo book site. We make one large book annually of all of the events and activities we have experienced. We are a full year behind but the 2012 book is in the works. This promo code would be awesome!

12 | Brenda A

March 18th, 2014 at 4:06 pm


Commented on FB. Great cover!

13 | Susan

March 18th, 2014 at 5:00 pm


It’s always been my plan to make a photo series called “A Cottage Alphabet”. If I could actually print it out, it would make a great present for the in-laws!

14 | KL

March 18th, 2014 at 5:00 pm


I would love to create a book full of my 7 year’s drawings and even the “selfies” she has taken on my phone mixed in with some writings that she has attempted.

15 | Stacey K

March 18th, 2014 at 5:46 pm


I would love to do an ABC book of our family – “C is for camping” with a blurb and photo of us camping, etc. I think it would be super fun and the kids would love to read it to each other, friends, grandparents, etc.

16 | Stacey K

March 18th, 2014 at 5:47 pm


Commented on Facebook

17 | Julie G.

March 18th, 2014 at 8:07 pm


I’d like to publish some of my grandkids’ art. It would be the perfect way to preserve them.

18 | Julie G.

March 18th, 2014 at 8:08 pm


I commented on Facebook.

19 | Katie

March 18th, 2014 at 8:23 pm


I would be interested in gifting a coupon to the students in my class who love to write. Would we be able to make a few shorter books with it? Need to explore the options more closely. Thanks for sharing this site.

20 | Elizabeth

March 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am


I love the idea of preserving my daughters’ art in a book.

21 | Pamela

March 19th, 2014 at 7:17 am


Family history….family tree….recently lost the matriarch of our family who was the go to person for our family history. Before she past on she gave me all the documents, pictures etc. so I could carry the torch for our family. A published book of all her work would be such an honour!

22 | Carolyn

March 19th, 2014 at 1:53 pm


I think any one of my kids would love to create their own book. I’ve got one who loves to draw and I’m sure they could all add in their own ideas to come up with a sibling produced piece of work. What a cool keepsake that would be.

23 | Mel

March 19th, 2014 at 3:10 pm


I love blurb. I’ve done a photobook every year for the last few years for the grandparents, too, but I’ve never thought about letting my girls do their own. It would be interesting to see what they would come up with!

24 | Mike Reynolds

March 19th, 2014 at 5:57 pm


We have about 50 bedtime stories that this would be perfect for!

25 | Mel Gallant

March 20th, 2014 at 9:08 am


My girl has a fascination with dragons so we make up stories about them all the time. We’d create a dragon story for sure.

26 | Kylie

March 20th, 2014 at 2:24 pm


Thanks for the introduction to Blurb. We’d collaborate on a brand new story we could share with the extended family. All three of my children are prolific writers and illustrators and my husband comes up with the best bedtime stories for them. The finished product could be zany but the journey would be great family time.

27 | HollyStar

March 23rd, 2014 at 7:32 am


My oldest has been creating “books” out of scrap paper. I’d take a few of those and make his first anthology. Great idea!

28 | Gayle

March 23rd, 2014 at 11:32 am


Sounds like a creative and fun project for Granny and the Grand Kids! Thank you!

29 | Gayle

March 23rd, 2014 at 11:38 am


Not only left a comment on your Facebook post but liked your page too! So glad I found you.

30 | Christine

March 23rd, 2014 at 11:42 am


My daughter and I have always wanted to make a book with our fairy/ princess goodnight stories. This started when she was very little she is now 10 and we still do them. Thanks for the info on how to publish them.

31 | Elnaz S

March 23rd, 2014 at 5:21 pm


Wow what a cool concept! I’d love to make a poetry book :)

32 | Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo

March 24th, 2014 at 11:51 am


I take a lot of pictures. Maybe 30 a day. So, each year, I give my parents and inlaws a book of The Kids.

Besos, Sarah
Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

33 | Tiana

March 24th, 2014 at 12:55 pm


If I won. I think I’d make a “special memories” book. We could make a list of a bunch of fun stuff we want to do and make sure to take photos representing them all and put them together into a book.

34 | andrea tomkins

March 26th, 2014 at 9:48 am


We have a winner! It’s commenter #5 – Cath – who wrote:

“Wow – this speaks exactly to my daughter’s 3 stated life goals (as of yesterday) — publish a book, win a highland trophy, and never die. :) I would set her loose to publish any one of her favourite stories, likely Candyland!”

Congratulations Cath! And thanks for your entries everyone. It was really neat to see all of your great ideas.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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