Given the long list of electronic devices distracting today's youth, it's exciting for parents when their children want to pursue creative writing and illustrating. Motivated by her own daughters' desire to publish stories they've written together, Westport mother Andrea Bergstein designed Scribblitt, a website where children cab create, share and publish their work.
Since its launch at the end of May, the response from children — and parents — has been great, Bergstein said.
“We have had almost 700 visits, 50 percent of which are unique, 50 percent are repeat visitors, and almost 4,000 page views,” she said. “We are off to a good start.”
The easy-to-use site allows kids to write and illustrate a story and then save it in their personal My Scribblitt page so that they could return to it later for editing. On its Illustrate ITT section, the young authors have the choice of uploading their own images or creating their own pictures by a mix-and-match and pick-and-click functions.
They also can share their work in Scribblitt's "Library" and enter both writing and illustration competitions. Submissions for stories with a "summer" theme are currently being accepted for Scribblitt's contest.
For those who want a hard copy of their work, published books could be purchased. This is the only cost for Scribblitt's participants. Because she feels strongly that children are exposed too much to advertisers, Bergstein is not planning to sell space on the website.
“It's really just a site for creativity,” she said. “I did it for my kids and for all of the kids who love writing and want to feel that sense of accomplishment in pulling it all together and producing a story or a book.”
Her two daughters, Tori, 11, and Rachel, 8, are having a lot of fun exploring Scribblitt.
Bergstein said, “When I woke up this morning, my daughter told me that she had already been up writing a story about clouds and she couldn't wait to show it to me. This is the kind of experience that I hoped for. If my children are asking for help in publishing their stories, then I'm going to help them.”
Scribblitt is geared for children ages 7 to 12. “They really need to know how to type or to have a devoted parent who will sit with them and do the typing,” Bergstein said.
Two years ago, when Tori started feverishly reading and crafting stories that were collected on stacks of paper strewn all over their house, Bergstein thought, “There's got to be a better way to do this and save some trees. There has to be a way for kids to go onto their computer and write directly into a program and add illustrations, if they don't know how to draw.”
Enlisting the assistance of a web designer, illustrator and programmer, Bergstein was able to customize Scribblitt to meet children's creative needs. “It is so cool to write a story and have it look professionally illustrated and then bound into a real book,” said 11-year old Samantha Atlas.
Her mother, Beth, said that Samantha started using Scribblitt as soon as it launched two months ago. “I love that she is spending her time writing, thinking and being creative instead of watching TV,” Beth said. “It is fabulous!”
Wilton parent Alison Sherman agreed. “Scribblitt is a most ingenious website,” she said. “It inspires creativity and individuality while still satisfying my child's insatiable appetite for all things computer.”
Like Samantha, her son Zach, 9, likes publishing his stories the best. “Scribblitt is an awesome website because all the stories you work so hard to write for school, you can make into a real book,” Zach said.
Bergstein's background in marketing children's products came in handy as she took the conception of Scribblitt into development. Working at Mattel Toys for ten years, Bergstein was responsible for the Barbie doll brand.
“For me, my work with Barbie was all about creativity and allowing the doll to give girls a chance to be anything they wanted to be,” Bergstein said. “I've always had a real affinity for children's products.”
Bergstein also worked at an animation company where she transformed beloved television characters, such as Babar and Franklin, into lifestyle products for children.
For more information, visit www.scribblitt.com.