Beginning the Digital Storytime Journey

I have just begun working in a new library system where I have been asked to facilitate the development of some digital storytelling resources. We’ve begun discussing some exciting ideas for incorporating digital media into our services for children.  What we’d like to do is add more tools to the storyteller’s toolkit; in addition to physical puppets, flannel boards, draw and tell stories, etc, we’re going to be looking for digital tools  to use both in our programs, and to recommend to parents.

There are 2 aspects of digital storytelling;

  1. Virtual storytimes: This would be where we simply record programs, or segments of programs, and upload them so people can watch them at home or on a mobile device.  In the new year we’ll begin pursuing this type of digital storytelling a little more aggressively to develop a dynamic children’s “department” in the virtual branch of the library.
  2. Incorporating digital media (iPads, mostly) into everyday storytimes; this is where the apps and eBooks come in.

Here’s a general timeline:

  • July 1st we begin downloading and reviewing apps for usability in Early Literacy programming. We will establish collection development requirements for these apps just like we would any other media in the library. I will post all apps that make the grade as well as other resources for librarians who are interested in playing around with these new storytelling tools;
  • Develop some resources to give to parents about digital literacy, along with recommendations for apps and review sources;
  • August: presenting some of our work at the Children’s Supervisory Librarians meeting;
  • Begin a dialogue with special needs groups in our service area about integrating some of these tools into programming for those populations.  We will be working with two researchers/children’s librarians (one from Vancouver Public Library, one from Brooklyn Public Library) to develop evidence-based practices for integrating research on special needs education and digital technology;
  • September: checking out the branches for viability with regards to lighting, projectors, physical space etc;
  • Once the Summer Reading Club is over we’re going to look at incorporating some digital storytelling into Every Child Ready to Read and Outreach.

If any of this sounds fun, or you have some ideas to share, please contact me.  This is a brand new world for libraries; not a lot has been done in this area and I hope this process can be as collaborative, creative and fun as possible.


Posted on June 17, 2012, in Early Literacy, Libraries, Media Literacy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Jim Marcolina

    Suggestion: For live storytelling in the libraries that have projection capability, develop a library of “mood” slides. For example, a slide of predominantly dark bluish colors and tall shadowy shapes for scary scenes, bright green and blue with semi-abstract leafy shapes for daytime outdoor scenes. The ideas is to complement the storytelling rather than replace it. These slides could be unobtrusively controlled by the storyteller him or herself using a smartphone or iPad.
    For libraries without projection capability, low-cost hardware can make room lights remote-controllable, so the storyteller can raise and lower the lights in some parts of the room.

  2. Thanks Jim! I think I should start keeping a list of suggestions like that. Do you have any videos or screen shots of how you’ve done this? Any links we can look at?

  3. Anne Friederichs

    Hi Cen. I’d like to know how things have been going in general. We’ve been asked to start this, and I’m a little scared. Did you do this in a “regular” storytime setting or did you make this a special type of storytime? Are you still using apps and iPads in storytime?

    • Hi Anne! Things are going just swimmingly, thanks! It’s so cool you’ve been asked to develop a digital storytime program! Please don’t be scared. All you’re doing is adding another tool to your toolkit; digital stories are no scarier than puppets or feltboards (hm….ok, i have seen some scary puppets in my time…..) We have plans to introduce some book-based apps into pre-existing storytimes as well as hosting dedicated digital storytelling programs (these will be demo-style, one off kinds of things in the branches to showcase digital storytelling to both the staff and the public). Yes, our weapon of choice is the iPad and the plethora of book-based apps that are available through iTunes. Will you be working with an iPad too? Please don’t hesitate to check in whenever you need to. This is EXACTLY why I created this blog and I want to hear from others who are doing similar projects. Let’s work together to create a community of knowledge!

      • Anne Friederichs

        Hi Cen! Thanks so much! We will most likely be using an iPad. It’s what I’m most comfortable with, especially with the display and music capabilities. We’re in the baby-step stages right now. It was proposed yesterday 🙂 I like the idea, but I don’t want it to feel like the “movies in storytime” controversy or anything. I’ll keep the blog posted!

  4. I’m planning to start a story time club in my neighborhood. If I have a group of 10 kids, would it be nice to have an ipad to tell the story?

    I understand that as a parent is is easier because it is a one-on-one situation, but with 10 kids (and no infocus aid) can an ipad take the place of a real book?

    Feedback appreciated 🙂

    • Hi! I’d love to hear more about your program! Are you working with an organization (library, non-profit etc)? iPads can certainly be used in a group setting to tell stories, but they do not usually take the place of physical books (unless you WANT that to be the point of the progam). I think of iPads as another storytelling tool, just like felt boards, puppets, shakers and music can all be storytelling tools. What age are the kids you will be working with, and will their caregivers be present for the program? Where will the proposed program take place?

      • Thank you so much for your reply! 🙂

        I am planning to start the program at my church (I plan to make is in Spanish also, since the school in our parish has the Spanish immersion program I think it might be a good idea). This might take place at the school church’s library

        I believe the age group can be 2-9 (if in the future we see that we have a big audience and can be divided in 2 groups, we’d divide it in two groups without a doubt).

        My husband and I are planning to present this program to our parish director to start it in January 2013, we plan for caregivers to be present in the program while it takes place (so they won’t think about it as a daycare in case some kids get bored, they can leave with no problem).

        I am planning to work also with some resources from Amazon (using amazon kindle) they have some pretty nice picture books, which I think kids will love.

        So, the program we are planning will follow something like this:

        1- Introduction: we’ll ask the kids to guess about the story, if it is about an animal or character, I plan my husband to wear a mask/dress like and mimic the character.

        2- Conversation: I’ll talk to our “character” and kids can ask him questions too.

        3- Vocabulary: I’ll show the kids flashcards or realia of the main words of the story (we can do a matching game, puzzle or some fun activity for this one).

        4- Story: We read the story

        5- Song: I’ll try my best to find a song depending on the story for kids to sing.

        6- Crafts: We do some crafty activity kids can take home

        Please let me know what you think about this, I am working on this to present it to our director, we plan to make it Sundays 3pm.


  5. I’d love to address your questions in a blog post. Do you mind?

  6. Hi, Thanks so much for this blog. I’ve also been given the task to implement a pilot for our branches. I’m working at a newer branch with modern technology, whereas some of the other branches are lacking. Lack of appropriate technology will be an obstacle for many libraries. Depending on the size of your storytime there is usually a way to implement some component of digital storytelling. Will be checking back often!

    • Hi! No problem! Please free free to contact me anytime; if you need some help with grant writing or training, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to help! I’d love to feature your pilot project experiences here on Little eLit; others will learn from what you learned 🙂

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