KidAuthors.com Provides a Global Forum That Encourages Children to Explore Language Arts Skills

A Q&A with the husband-and-wife team who created the kid-friendly Web resource.

Creative children interested in posting their work on the Internet now have the perfect place to do so at KidAuthors.com. The Web site, founded in November 1999, is a place for young children worldwide to share their stories and p'ems. Created and maintained by husband-and-wife team Shash and Nupur Chokshi, the site is devoted to providing a safe, educational environment for children where they are encouraged to be creative and develop language arts skills. Between 10,000 and 12,000 children visit the site monthly. The Chokshis maintain the site as a hobby, paying the expenses themselves. Shash is a network engineer who works on LAN data projects. Nupur is a Web developer and software engineer who works on various Web projects. They have one child, Siraj, who will be 2 this year. The Chokshis recently answered some questions about KidAuthors.com for T.H.E. Journal.

T.H.E.: Why did you create KidAuthors.com?

Chokshis: After being introduced to the world of childrens Web sites, specifically the ones that promoted reading and writing, we noticed several areas that needed improvement. The existing sites offered basic Web publishing, but were not designed to attract and encourage kids. The Web sites were mainly text-heavy, and had very little color and few graphics. Another shortcoming common with these Web sites was that the navigation of these sites was not intuitive, even for computer-savvy adults. We realized that children needed something more kid-friendly, so KidAuthors.com was founded.

T.H.E.: What is the purpose of your site?

Chokshis: KidAuthors.com is devoted to providing an educational and safe Web site for kids. A place where they are encouraged to explore their creativity and develop their reading and writing skills. It is a site that provides a safe, interactive place on the Web for kids to post their stories and p'ems, and also allows anyone to read these posted items. All stories and p'ems are submitted with a single online form. The submit forms allow the author to customize the display of their work by letting them choose background and text color combinations as well as the font. The best part about the site is that it's free, so anyone can benefit from the services provided by KidAuthors.com.

Another important feature is our security policy. In today's world, kids are at risk in all environments. KidAuthors.com complies with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, providing a safe platform on the World Wide Web for kids. Use of KidAuthors.com d'es not require the visitor to divulge personal information, and the site d'es not use "cookies" to collect information from visitors. When someone interested in reading stories accesses the site, they can only see the first name and age of the author. No one can contact the author directly or indirectly. In addition, all stories and p'ems are reviewed by KidAuthors.com for proper language, topic and content before they are posted. This protects our young readers from inappropriate material.

T.H.E.: What are your goals for the site?

Chokshis: One of our goals has been to engage kids by making the site interactive and encouraging. Anyone who submits a story or p'em gets a KidAuthors Certificate of Achievement for his or her accomplishment. The interactive aspect is added later by letting the readers rate any story or p'em on the site. Each story and p'em accumulates points awarded by its readers. The highest rated stories and p'ems are then displayed on the main page of KidAuthors.com. All this is done dynamically: Once a story or p'em gets more than a predetermined amount of points, or if it maintains a top rating for an extended period, the story or p'em is moved to the KidAuthors Hall of Fame.

Also, once the Web site had posted over a thousand stories and p'ems, the need for a search feature became clear. The whole site can now be searched for a story or p'em by using an author name or title keyword. This makes it easy for kids to direct friends and relatives to their story or p'em. In addition, features are continually added to the site as needs arise.

T.H.E.: How d'es the site benefit teachers and students?

Chokshis: Teachers can have students post their prose or p'etry homework on KidAuthors.com, or give out reading assignments from stories and p'ems posted on the site. Children are the ultimate benefactors because they can improve their reading and writing skills by using our site.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.

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