Mission Viejo Library One Big Appy Family Flyer

Check out the Mission Viejo Library’s Flyer for their app-based parent night.  We held two of these events and got some really valuable insight about what parents are concerned about, like how do you know when media is “safe”? How much screen time is appropriate at what age? Will my child fall behind if he doesn’t have an iPad?

Recommendations from this pilot project include:

  • Provide activities for kids to do while talking to the parents
  • Give access to the devices and walk through some apps (like a tech petting zoo)
  • Be prepared to do some appvisory!
  • Evenings might be hard; what about a weekend?



Talk Sing Read Write Play Song: PLA 2014 ECRR2.0

At our PLA 2014 ECRR2.0: Using Apps & eBooks in Storytime presentation with Saroj Ghoting in Indianapolis this past March, I sang a song at the beginning of my new media storytime demo. A number of people have contacted me since asking what the tune was, and I promised to record it. You can’t hear the guitar as well as I’d have liked, but here it is. Live from Vancouver Island, it’s the Campbell Family Singers with a jolly rendition of “Talk Sing Read Write Play”!

Many thanks to my niece Liz for the accompaniment, and to Jude for making “eat” one of the early learning practices.

Tips & Tricks for Incorporating New Media into Storytime

We’ve been talking to a lot of storytellers about how they’re using new media in storytimes, and we’ve been asked to share some basic tips & tricks for getting started, so here goes!

Be Explicit About Why you are Using New Media

Have a very clear understanding of why your library is incorporating new media into storytime, and be ready to articulate it during the program! For example, you can introduce your first app by saying that you’re very excited to use your iPad in storytime because you can share a Sandra Boynton book (or other board book) for the first time ever; the physical books have always been too small, but now that they are in app form, we can make them big on the screen so we can all see them.

Or if you are using your iPad to share lyrics, parenting tips & visual cues in your baby storytime, say to the parents that the screen is not for their babies to look at, it’s to support parent engagement through learning the songs, knowing what comes next in the program, and where to go to find more information about what you discuss during the program.

Age Appropriate Content

Sometimes the digital version of a book is not really appropriate for the same age group as the paper version in a group setting. An example of this is the Very Cranky Bear, which has some pretty spooky effects for toddlers, but might work well with preschoolers (I know this first hand; I’ve tried it with both age groups, and the bear in the cave can be pretty scary!)


Very Scary Bear for Toddlers

Physical Orientation

Where are you in relation to the screen? Are you standing, sitting on a chair or on the floor? What makes sense for your storytelling space? Try out a number of combinations BEFORE your room fills up with little people. Remember to look most at the screen they are looking at, and to point or gesture to the screen they can see to maintain the connection between the storyteller and the story.

Apps Update! 

Always go through all apps you are going to share in storytime the day of your program. Something may have updated since you saw it last, or there might be a bug.

Make Connections to Your Collection

Always have physical copies to check out of digital books used in storytime, or books that the apps are based on. Include links to the catalogue within your storytime keynote presentation, or include slides with covers and call numbers for music or books.

Physical & Digital Storytelling Tools

Remember to use physical storytelling tools as well as digital tools, unless you have a very good reason for only using digital tools. A digital felt board does not replace a physical felt board, but it might be the better choice some days. If you use a digital book with animals in it, try using a puppet to introduce the book. if you are using digital music or participation activities, hand out shaker or scarves as well.

Interacting with “Passive” Content

If you create a story with an app that you can share as a YouTube video, try to incorporate Dora-style pauses so you can “interact” with your content in front of the your audience. For example, Allison has left a brief pause in her Storytime Guidelines Piggy Sock Puppet video for children to voice their enthusiasm for storytime, and she also speaks to Piggy before and after playing the video.



Make sure all your sleep & notification settings are turned off. No one wants to see that one of your tweets got re-tweeted in the middle of the Farmer in the Dell, and it’s terribly inconvenient to have to wake your device up and re-connect to the AppleTV in the middle of your program!


No one wants to know if you have a meeting with the State Library.

Final New Media Storytime Training at the Mission Viejo Library (sniff sniff)

Well, we’ve had our 4th and final training at the Mission Viejo Library. It has been an incredible experience working with the dedicated children’s librarians and administrators, and we are completely indebted to the one and only Genesis Hansen for making the whole initiative a success. Their children’s librarians are all trained up, and some have already begun using their iPads in storytime. Allison Tran, one of the most intrepid librarians I know, will be leading a new media in storytime & media mentorship pilot project in May (which we’ll report back on for sure!) She also created this video using the Jazzy World Tour App during her new media storytime demonstration exercise. That’s the rest of the training group in the background saying “g’day!” and “didgeridoo!” to give us an idea of what content creation within storytime could look like.

Here are the slides from our training, and I’ve promised to follow up with the staff to see if they’re willing to share their experiences with using their iPads in storytime.  Thanks for a wonderful and successful long-term training experience, everyone!

Rancho Cucamonga New Media Storytime Training #2

It’s been a busy week for trainings! Carisa and I visited the Rancho Cucamonga Library in Southern California for their second New Media Storytime Training, which is a pilot project connected to the California State Library’s Early Learning with Families 2.0 Initiative (for which I am a consultant). We’re developing a new media in storytime curriculum, as well as pulling in other elements of the ELF2.0 initiative, such as the Brazelton Touchpoints Child Development Curriculum for Library Staff. What a lot of information to keep track of! Learn more about what the Young Children, New Media & Libraries Initiative is doing through ELF2.0 at this upcoming webinar on May 8th!

Here are the apps we demoed, and below are the slides we used to guide our conversation.

Annoying Fly (Sing “Shoe Fly, Don’t Bother Me!”)
Blue Hate Green Hat (Good for being explicit about why you are using technology; because Boynton books are so small!)
Little Robot Lost His Square (Very gentle, minimal interactivity)
Mother Goose on the Loose (Use as felt board and music; also model caregiver/child engagement)
Peekaboo Barn (Use this one with an animal puppet)
Very Cranky Bear (This is the one that may not work well for younger kids)

Homework for the next training session is as follows:

Use Keynote to create a guide for your new media storytime. Include at least the following slides, but please feel free to experiment!

  1. Welcome Slide
  2. Slide with an image
  3. Slide with Lyrics (or perhaps parent tips)
  4. Resource Slide

Include three digital elements in your storytime plan, in addition to physical props and paper books (unless you have a good reason for including ONLY digital content). Here is a list of suggestions of things to try:

  • Felt Board or Mother Goose on the Loose App (live or screen shots)
  • Book App
  • Non-book app (e.g. Wee Sing ABC or Endless Alphabet)
  • Digital Book from another source (like iBooks, the Kindle app, your libray’s digital collection or another bookshelf app)
  • Digital sounds (e.g. animal sounds; either from an app or imported into your presentation)
  • Digital music (either from within an app like the Laurie Berkener app or through iTunes)
  • Upload your own photos
  • Create your own story or video (e.g. with Sock Puppets, iMovie or 30hands)
  • Anything else you can think of! Be creative!

I’d like to point out that when we do these trainings we are asking a LOT of the storytellers. Not only are we asking them to interface with a brand-new technology, we are also asking them to take into consideration new information about child development, suggestions for working with parents, physical combinations and placement of physical things and digital things, plus all the usual presentation, storytelling and general all-round professionalness of standing at the front of a room facilitating a storytime. We’re also asking managers to guide their staff through a steep learning curve and figure out how to provide off-desk time for practice & general technology troubleshooting, and also supporting brand new storytellers. Libraries that are implementing system-wide new media storytime trainings are truly at the cutting edge of what is happening in the profession, and we commend the courage it takes to jump in like this.

Sock Puppets Galore, by Rachel Sharpe

Each month, we have an elementary craft program called Stories & Such. I’ve been searching for a while for a way to incorporate our iPad into the program and finally found a way to add a digital element.

I decided we were going to make sock puppets but add in the opportunity for the kids to film a short skit of their puppets interacting.

Additionally, I had remembered seeing posts from Allison Tran and Emily Lloyd about their success with using the Sock Puppet app in their storytimes, and I thought my elementary kids would enjoy the app just as much. Using the app, I filmed several 30-second segments starring the pig and zebra puppets.

In the first video, I had the puppets introduce the craft, while the other videos featured the puppets demonstrating what the kids could talk about in their videos.

When the kids arrived for the program, we watched the first video and read Smitten by David Gordon. Then they chose a sock base (which were donated socks left over from a program) and went to town, grabbing ribbon, felt, beads, googly eyes, and whatever else I set out. I gave them 20 minutes to design their puppets.

While their puppets dried, we watched the remaining videos, and we brainstormed about what they could talk about in their videos. I also had all the parents fill out permission slips that allowed me to film their children. The slips asked for the child’s name, description of the puppet, and parent email.

For our puppet stage, I took a table, covered it with a sheet, and placed it near a solid-colored wall. When the kids were ready to be filmed, they gave me their permission slips and climbed behind the table. I gave them one minute to do whatever they wanted while I filmed them with the iPad mini.

After the program, I edited the videos, uploaded them to YouTube, and sent the links to the addresses the parents provided. The response has been great. Several parents commented how much fun their kids had during program and how much they loved the videos.


1. Don’t use Elmer’s glue with fabric. It doesn’t dry fast enough, and nothing sticks to the sock. Although it was hilarious to watch puppet parts fly off while the kids were filming. Thankfully, everyone had a sense of humor.

2. Speak up! It was really hard to hear the kids who were performing the puppet show.

3. Have a separate area for filming if possible. For the most part, the kids who weren’t filming were quiet, but I had a few really excited kids who would keep laughing or talking while I was filming. You could hear them quite clearly on the video.

Overall, the kids were really receptive to the change of pace. I’m excited to see how else I can incorporate the iPad into more of my craft programs!

Rachel Sharpe
Library Assistant II
Henrico County Public Library
Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.

April Tinker Meeting Recap, by Liz Fraser

April Tinker meeting photoThe Chicago area is lucky to have the fabulous Tinker Group, a group for “library folks who work with kids, teens, and technology.” Every other month, about 40 people gather to learn about technology programs and ideas from other librarians. It’s a great way to hear about new ideas and talk with others who have tried different and interesting programs. Each meeting usually focuses on a couple topics; there’s a brief introduction and then time for hands-on exploration. This month the topics were Scratch and Makey Makeys.

Janet from the Wilmette Public Library talked about the Scratch programs she has been doing for five years(!). Scratch is a free programming language for beginners that can be used to create stories, games, artwork, and more. There’s a great video on the Scratch website that gives an overview of what it can be used to do.

At Wilmette, 5th-8th graders come for 2-hour programs (unless it’s a more complicated project; then they’ll do multiple sessions). Everyone starts on the same project together, but they are open-ended so once kids have the hang of it they can continue tinkering and make it their own. They’ve had kids create a labyrinth (related to the Percy Jackson books), make a cheese touch game (for the Wimpy Kid books), make Mad Libs, and more. You can see some of their past projects here. They’ve also done open studio time where kids work on their own projects and help one another.

A few more notes from Janet on doing a Scratch program at your library:

  • You can use Scratch on PCs or Macs and it can be used in a browser or downloaded to your computer.
  • The Scratch website has a great Help page with a getting started guide, beginning project ideas and video tutorials.
  • To save projects, you need an account. Sometimes the kids have their own accounts, but it’s a good idea to create a library account that kids can use to upload their projects.

Renee from the Evanston Public Library then presented on Makey Makeys. They are microcontrollers that you can use in endless ways—be sure to watch the video on their website to see some fun things you can do with them. The most basic way to use one is as a game controller; when you plug it into a computer it recognizes it as a keyboard and you can control the up, down, left, right, and space bar keys. Renee went over the basics of how to get a Makey Makey up and running as a controller and then everyone experimented with different ways to use it. A fun thing about Makey Makey is that it can be used with Scratch; kids can create a game and then use the Makey Makey to control it, or use their Makey Makeys with projects other kids have uploaded. I’ve actually done programs with Makey Makeys and they are a lot of fun!

Liz Fraser is Children’s Librarian/Technology Coordinator at the Ela Area Public Library.
Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.

Encouraging Parent & Caregiver Participation During Storytime Using Keynote at La Grange Public Library, by Rachael Dabkey

The staff at La Grange Public Library have had several meetings about ways to encourage parent and caregiver participation during our storytimes. Currently, we offer ten storytimes per week for ages ranging from six months to six years. At the start of every storytime session, we go over our expectations for storytimes where we tell the parents and caregivers that we would like them to participate with us. We have also tried handouts, but they were distracting. How could we expect parents to do the actions to the songs and fingerplays when they were holding a piece of paper? Additionally, we tried printing the words to our songs and fingerplays on ledger paper and displaying them on our easel, but little hands often pulled them down and they took up quite a bit of storage space. Last spring, we were fortunate enough to purchase an iPad for staff to use in our department. That’s when I began experimenting with ways to encourage parent and caregiver participation through digitally displaying the words to the songs and fingerplays that I use during my storytimes.

Finding the Right App

In my search for an app that allowed me to digitally present the words to the songs and fingerplays I was going to share in my storytimes, I wanted to be able to:

  • Access the presentation offline since the wireless internet in our building can be spotty at times.
  • Have the ability to import my PowerPoint presentations into the app so that I could easily edit my slides based on the material I was presenting in storytime each week.

I downloaded the Keynote app after one of my coworkers recommended it. With Keynote you can import your slides via Google Drive. I edit my slides using PowerPoint, then upload my PowerPoint presentation to Google Drive. Both of those are done on the computer. Using the Google Drive app on the iPad, I am given the option of importing my slides into Keynote. Very quick and simple process!

Keynote’s Effectiveness

LGPL storytimeIt works! I am always seeing parents and caregivers looking on our screen and singing along with me. The biggest improvement has been in my lapsit storytime. The parents’ and caregivers’ hands are free to bounce, tickle, and play with the babies, allowing for full participation. I keep the iPad next to me on the floor and I can easily swipe the screen to move on to the next song.

Using Keynote also allows me to stay on track during my storytimes. A big improvement to my post-it notes! Keynote’s ease of use has allowed me to use the iPad in other programs as well. I have used it during my book discussion programs and during our Every Child Ready to Read workshops.

Future Goals

We are currently looking into wireless options for using the iPad in the activity room where our storytimes are held since the iPad has to be attached to our wall panel and this setup doesn’t allow me to move freely through the room. I’d also like to use Keynote for storytelling or to display pictures to introduce the children to our storytime topic/theme. I’d also like to include early literacy tips on the slides in such a way that it is beneficial to the parents but doesn’t take away from them being able to sing along with me.


  • Keynote can be purchased for $9.99 through the iTunes store. It is currently available on iOS devices only.
  • The Google Drive app is available for free in the iTunes store.


Rachael Dabkey is a Youth Services Associate at La Grange Public Library in La Grange, IL. You can find her on Twitter @rachaeldab, visit her blog at rachaeldabkey.wordpress.com, or send her an email at dabkeyr@lagrangelibrary.org.
Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.

Fred Rogers Center Early Career Fellows (ECF) Program LittleeLit Entries

I am very, very pleased to share that two LittleeLit contributors, Claudia Haines and Megan Egbert, have submitted applications to participate in the Fred Rogers Center Early Career Fellows (ECF) Program. I am so very proud to be associated with these innovative and passionate individuals, and urge everyone to send them successful vibes. It is of utmost importance that children’s librarians participate in these kind of boundary-pushing professional development activities, and that we loudly broadcast our expertise in the areas of content evaluation, curation, storytelling, early learning & literacy beyond the walls of libraryland.

Best of luck, Claudia & Megan. If your projects don’t make it into this program, we’ll work to make them a reality some other way. LittleeLit’s got your back.

Keep the big ideas coming, colleagues. It’s a brave new world out there, and we have a huge opportunity to positively impact the way we remember ourselves to our children.

Update: Claudia & Megan’s entry videos are coming back soon; after winners have been announced.


Goose 2.0 with the IslandLink Library Federation in Victoria, BC (HOME!)

I was thrilled to present a Goose 2.0 workshop with Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen in Victoria, BC (which is my heart’s true home). Here are the techy slides from the presentation, and below is the full presentation.


I’ve also made a list of apps mentioned, both in the workshop itself and as a part of our felt board brainstorm:

Annoying Fly 
Felt Board 
Hairy McClary from Donaldson’s Dairy
Mother Goose on the Loose App
Toca Store



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