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.


Posted on April 22, 2014, in Literacy. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Great tips! I second the notifications tip. iPad went to sleep during a presentation to parents. No fun!

  2. These are so very helpful, especially for those of us who might still harbor a little skepticism about using the iPads in storytime. These are ALL useful tips–I really like the one about using physical props/tools instead (if they are preferable) or to incorporate physical props while using a digital tool. Common sense, but it’s a good reminder.

  3. Vicki Kouchnerkavich

    Not sure if it was my iPad or my projector that went to sleep and I was unable to share an ebook on the big screen. I will try to look at the sleep settings next time. Thank you!

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