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Dispatches from PLA 2014 — Making It Interpersonal: Using New Media in Storytime

by on March 18, 2014

Cen Campbell, founder of LittleeLit.com and Saroj Ghoting, Early Childhood Literacy Consultant, shared their ingenuity and expertise on using apps and E-books in storytime, at a program entitled “ECRR 2.0: Using Apps and E-books in Early Literacy Programs,” which was presented during the 2014 Public Library Association conference, to a capacity crowd.

Using a storytime demonstration, the presenters showed which new media can enhance an early literacy program. In order for this to be possible, apps and E-books need to be not just “interactive” but “interpersonal,” as they must support the relationship between the caretaker and the child. It is also important for the program to implement traditional storytime practices, such as the use of introductory songs, finger plays, physical books, closing songs, etc. Some indicators of “good apps” include; no in-app purchases, no links outside the app, age appropriate content, and opportunities to create new content and safe sharing. Apps and youtube videos can also be good tools to implement nonfiction into storytime. (e.g. pictures and real sounds of different animals.)

The presenters also talked about the importance of using media, in a way that parents can continue to use in supporting active learning once they leave the library. Some of the advice included using handouts that list the apps and songs used during the storytime; showing parents how to operate certain functions in the device being used, (e.g. swiping and turning the page); and if using a projector, holding the device in a way that parents can see that content being projected is the same the librarian sees.

Librarians can visit www.littleelit.com for tips and resources on using apps in their programming. Other recommended websites included www.digital-storytime.comwhich reviews educational apps; www.appfriday.com which features weekly special offers; and www.oceanhousemedia.com, which has done a good job featuring Smithsonian Institution apps for children.

Librarians who don’t feel at ease using technology as part of their programming were encouraged to not be afraid and to “explore” devices as much as possible, as this is the only way that will help the feel more comfortable.As apps and E-books become prominent, librarians should encourage good use of them, but most importantly, strive to become models for parents who otherwise might simply put their child’s leisure time into the hands of Fisher-Price, Disney, or Nickelodeon.