Collaborative Teams for Self-Publishing: A model for creating locally-relevant educational books

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Tom J. McConnell
Barbara Giorgio-Booher


Transforming education often means finding new curricular materials that are culturally relevant to local schools. If no such books are available, new materials need to be created to meet specific needs. Producing new high-quality materials may seem out of reach to educators who lack experience in illustration and publishing or have little access to commercial publishers.

We share a model used to develop a series of books called Conservation Tales in collaboration with university faculty students, and scientists. The model is presented as a way for local educators to create books to make education more relevant and accessible for children. The model leverages skills of artists, writers, and content experts to provide a rich learning experience for readers and an affordable option for self-publishing.

The model allowed a science educator to develop books for grades 3-5 with illustrations and photographs. University students were selected to developed images, create page layouts, and co-author the stories to suit the target audience. Collaborators also included scientists who reviewed content for accuracy and education students who developed learning activities included in the books.

This article describes the collaborative model with examples, and shares the process for self-publishing of print and digital books via online on-demand print services. We discuss sites that allow authors to create books with almost no overhead budget. We also share tips about the quality of graphics, software for creating files, and distributing your books.

Keywords: Self-publishing, Culturally relevant books, collaborative writing


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Author Biographies

Tom J. McConnell, Ball State University

Dr. McConnell is an Associate Professor of Science Education in the Department of Biology, Ball State University. He is the Managing Editor of GJTE, and a co-author of the Problem-Based Learning in the Science Classroom series of books. He is also the Author/Director of the Conservation Tales book series and the director of the Conservation Educator Academy at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Barbara Giorgio-Booher, Ball State University

Teaching Professor
School of Art
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana, USA