Traditional Digital Musical Storytime, by Tom Schween

Digital technology is an exciting new tool in the magical storytime treasure chest that I may choose to take out and play with when the situation calls for it. I want to identify those opportunities and push storytime services forward into new territory.

Photo credit to Janice Gartin

Photo credit to Janice Gartin

My musical storytime today integrates edited soundtracks for each program, children’s sing/move/play-alongs, musical transitions, background music, sound effects, instruments, and theatrical props. I utilize new media tools such as my iPhone, iTunes playlists, wired and wireless speaker devices (bluetooth), Garage Band sound effects, and apps. I am also very keen on finding ways to seamlessly use screens and integrate visual technology.

Stories, songs, and serving up make believe to make learning delightful for children during their wonder years is what storytime is all about (at its core). I am conscious not to make the technology I use the focus. When technology interferes with keeping listeners engaged, it does them a disservice.

New media provides us with new vessels for tried and true early-literacy storytime practices, like reading-aloud, singing-along, and felt-board storytelling. Using technology also has the added benefit of cultivating family computer and media literacy. Storytime, with the addition of new audio-visual layers, has the potential to simultaneously cultivate multiple literacies through the imaginative delivery of both traditional and digital materials.

Photo credit to Ricardo Sfeir and Sandra Chow-Zhang

Photo credit to Ricardo Sfeir and Sandra Chow-Zhang

21st century technology not only offers exciting new options for my storytime repertoire, it’s also a powerful way to promote the benefits of library storytime and at-home reading routines to caregivers. Now is the time to utilize new media tools (such as ebooks, apps, audio playlists, and digital audio and video channels) to expand storytime into digital native turf.

In digital storytime, I can still root today’s young children in tradition. But by looking beyond storytime technophobia, I believe I may reach and teach them even better while cultivating the next generation of storytime devotees (who will undoubtedly take storytime to even greater heights).

Over the past eight years, Tom Schween has delivered more than a thousand musical storytime programs to pre-k classrooms across the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a graduate student studying the crossroads of children’s librarianship and technology at San Jose State University. Tom began volunteering as a certified story reader with Oakland Public Library’s “Books for Wider Horizons” in 2006. He became a licensed Kindermusik educator in 2009, currently works as a principle backstage technician at Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon in San Francisco, and wrote a free online guide to storytime called the Magic Carpet Handbook at
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.

About Amy Koester

I'm a youth services librarian with a penchant for exciting ideas and engaging programs. It's a sure bet that if you talk to me about STEAM, whimsy, and trying new things, we'll be best friends forever.

Posted on November 10, 2014, in Digital Native, Story Time and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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