Author Archives: cen

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey Launched! Please Respond!

Please see the official call for participation on the ALSC website:

Young Children, New Media and Libraries Survey

In partnership with, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, and the University of Washington, Cen Campbell, Joanna Ison, and Elizabeth Mills have created a survey entitled “Young Children, New Media and Libraries,” and we would greatly appreciate your library’s participation.

We believe that libraries are at the cutting edge of incorporating many different kinds of new media devices [tablets, ereaders/tablets, digital recording devices, MP3 players, children’s tablets, etc.] into their branches and programming, and we are keenly interested in examining this new landscape across the United States. We want to hear from you in order to inform our research and to help us better understand the scope, challenges, and next steps for libraries regarding new media use.

We would like one librarian from your branch who is able to answer questions regarding your library’s use of new media to complete this survey.

Here is the link:

The survey includes 9 questions and we anticipate it will take no longer than 10-15 minutes to complete.

Please be assured that the information you provide through this survey will be kept confidential and will be analyzed in aggregate; no information that could reasonably identify of you or of your library will be included in any publications or public dissemination of the collected data. Participation in this survey is voluntary. You may not answer any questions you do not wish to answer and may withdraw your participation at any time without loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. We believe that participation in this survey poses no greater risks that those experienced in everyday life.

Sincerely, and with much thanks,

Cen Campbell,
J. Elizabeth Mills, PhD Student, University of Washington Information School
Joanna Ison, ALA


Children’s Technology Review YouTube Channel & More

I subscribe to Children’s Technology Review, which is run by our friend Warren Buckleitner. As part of that subscription, I get a weekly email with reviews and industry news about, well, children & technology. Last week’s newsletter featured Warren’s video review of Astropolo, which one of our librarians, Carissa Christner, has tried out in her library. Check out Carisa’s mention of it in the LittleeLit Google group.

Also check out the rest of the CTR YouTube page for all kinds of videos, reviews and product demonstrations.

Note: Warren’s review comes complete with “bad singing”! Yay! we love bad singing! All singing is welcome and encouraged!)


Creative Digital Literacy in Public Libraries by Sylvia Cecilia M. Aguiñaga

Many thanks to Sylvia Cecilia M. Aguiñaga for sharing her paper, Creative Digital Literacy in Public Libraries, which was part of her graduate work at San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science.


“Literacy has always been a core tenet of a successful society” (Leatham, Rich,& Wright, 2007, p. 5). The notion of literacy as a “core tenet” of society remains true. What has transformed is the very definition of literacy along with the society it benefits. This paper explores literacy and its adaptation to the digital age. Given that we have accepted the need to define and promote digital literacy, developing creative digital literacy—coding, media production, computational thinking—is a crucial step forward. Studies on Scratch, a coding language for children, and other practical applications of computational thinking, act as a platform for discussing creative digital literacy skills and theory. This paper emphasizes the need for public librarians to effectively cultivate 21st century learners by implementing a new creative digital literacy framework.

Read the full paper here.

Digital Fun in the Library Doodlecast by @chapterpaigeone

This is an oldie but a goodie, and Paige says another one’s on the way soon!

Whet Your APPetite: Creation Apps

Many thanks to Claire Moore for sharing her slides from our Whet Your Appetite Session at ALA in Vegas a few weeks ago. Next week I get to go visit with her in New York City, too! YAY!

Interested in Apps, iPads, eBooks and Other New Media with Young Kids?

If yes, we would love it if you would join the conversation. We have a Google group that serves as the LittleeLit Think Tank (it functions like a listserv so you can interact with it via email, but also an online collaboration tool) where participants post new research, app suggestions, ask logistics questions, or share cool new things they’re tried in their libraries.

We’d love to have you join the conversation! You don’t need to be an expert, and you can even lurk for a bit before sharing or asking anything. We are entirely crowd-sourced and grass-roots, and we believe that everyone has something to share on this topic. Please join us! We want to hear what you’re up to, and if you have a question, there are lots of folks who might be able to answer it.

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Fizz, Boom, Read! Apps from @chapterpaigeone

Many thanks to Paige Bentley-Flannery of the Deschutes Public Library for putting together this list of Fizz, Boom, Read! apps.

iPad Science Apps

1) Kids Discover Space

2) Kids Discover Matter

3) Toca Lab

4) Piig Labs

5) Tinkerbox HD

6) Brain Quest grades 1 and 2

7) Brain Quest grades 4 and 5

8) Scholastic First Discovery: Dinosaurs

9) DIY Sun Science

10) DIY Nano

11) Axel’s Chain Reaction

12) Weird but True

13) National Geographic Birds

14) Shape Arts: Geometry Creations

15) Science Heroes: Digestive System-FREE

Apps in Storytime and Beyond: Mary Fellows & Upper Hudson Library System

I had the pleasure to speak with Mary Fellows, Manager, Youth and Family Services at the Upper Hudson Library System (and past ALSC president) at ALA in stinky hot Vegas. Mary shared with me some of the amazing work that her regional/cooperative library system has been doing with incorporating new media into their services. The following is their beautifully articulated statement of the role of libraries in the new media marketplace for young kids & their families, plus a selection of the other documents included in their Apps in Storytime kit.

Apps in Storytime and Beyond: The Role of Libraries

Digital devices are an increasing part of the lives of many young children we serve. Adults, even in low income areas, are relying on smart phones and tablets for communication, connection to the Internet, and more. Children observe adults’ frequent engagement with digital devices and clamor to be included in these activities.

At the same time, experts warn about the perils of screen time for very young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to discourage parents from using media with children under 24 months of age.

What, then, is the public library’s role in modeling engaging young children with digital resources? What role should we play in advising parents about current screen time thinking and in the best apps to use with children?

First, we must be informed about current research and thinking. Currently, the thinking is:

  • No screen time for children ages 0-2
  • Considered, appropriate, limited use of technology with children 3 and up

Next, we apply this current thinking to our practices. This means:

We shouldn’t be using apps meant for children in our toddler or baby programs. Using Keynote to display song lyrics or Adobe Reader to project a tell-and-draw story that everyone in a large room can see is okay. These apps are not engaging to kids and serve a larger early literacy purpose.

We should make careful judgments about using apps meant for children in family programs where there may be lots of toddlers and babies. Using one app occasionally allows the librarian opportunity to talk to the parents present about apps and young children.

In programs where we use apps, we alert parents to the current thinking about children and media. We take care to do this gently and diplomatically, understanding that parents in the room are at various degrees of awareness about children and screen time. We refer back to the Every Child Ready to Read® five skills that help children prepare to learn -Talk, Write, Read, Play, Sing – and how the app we use reinforces those.

Finally, we share clear messages about using apps with children.

We start by acknowledging how compelling digital devices are to children. We mention that, as adults, we often have them readily at hand, so when our child is in need of attention or distraction, our tablet or phone is an easy go-to.

We mention the recommendation against screen time for children under two and offer the analogy of chewing gum: we may have it in our purse or pocket for our own uses. We know that a young child will be interested in the wrapper, the smell, and the taste. And we also know that young children are apt to swallow the gum, and that can cause health issues for them. So we safeguard our children’s health by withholding gum until they are old enough to unharmed by it.

We introduce parents to the three C’s to consider with apps and children three and older: context, content, and child. We say just a little about each of these, and then invite parents to talk with us afterwards if they want to know more.

  1. Context: the purpose of the activity, and what happens before, during, and after your child uses the app. Screen time should lead to interaction, not replace interaction.

Ask yourself: What will my child learn from this app? Will I make the time to talk with my child about the activity? Can my child and I play together?

  1. Content: the theme and activities of the app.

Ask yourself: Is the app child-controlled? Is the activity one I want my child to imitate? Does the app promote questions, playful reenactments, joy?

  1. Child: children need a variety of active, sensory, and language experiences to maximize their brain development and learning.

Ask yourself: Does my child spend more time with media and technology than other activities? Is she getting enough time for pretend and active play? Do I provide clear boundaries for screen time so that my child is not becoming dependent on devices?

 App advisory is part of our jobs now. We may not have apps to loan, but we must nonetheless have information on them. We can inform ourselves by reading app reviews in School Library Journal, The Horn Book, or other respected, independent review sources. We should keep a list of recommended apps handy for when we’re asked by parents for the best apps to use with their children – and we must offer that help, as we do in all patron interactions, without judgment.

Most of all, we must practice sharing the information about how to choose and use apps until we’re comfortable and authentic discussing it. This is a key way to demonstrate our currency (we’re not just about books) and our value (as a source of parenting help) to our customers. Children live in a digital world, and the vast majority will have screen time every day. Our job is to help parents make considered decisions about how and how often their child uses media, and to help them to choose media wisely.

Further resources:

Blog entries by Lisa Guernsey on The Huffington Post blog:

The Three C’s for Choosing the Right Technology (Mobile Apps) for Children:

Internal Documents

Why iPad Apps in Storytime

List of Apps on iPads

Announcement email

Eamples of notes on how to use specific apps


Robot Lab

My A-Z

Finger Paint

We Make Everyday #alaac14 @amyeileenk

Since I presented on a panel at Fred Forward a few weeks ago about the intersection between new media use and the maker movement, I’ve been paying more close attention to what’s shaking in libraryland when it comes to makerspaces. Luckily one of my mentors and personal saviors, Amy Koester, happens to be a vocal advocate for all things STE(A)M and making things in the library. I attended her We Make Everyday session at ALA last weekend in stinky and nasty Vegas, and now I’m posting her slides and Justin Hoenke’s virtual appearance. Go forth and make something. Or keep on making things, as the case may be, whether they’re digital, physical, or a combination thereof.

Whet Your APPetite: Rapid Reviews of Apps for Children from Preschool to Tweens #alaac14

I had the honour of presenting with an esteemed cast of new media gurus in our session at ALA in Vegas last weekend. Paige Bentley-Flannery, Claire Moore and Dr Marianne Martens all shared their expertise and specific app recommendations. Below are my slides with app recommendations, our app handout (Whet your APPetite Flyer), Marianne’s list of Multicultural Apps (Martens Whet Your APPetite MC Annotated List) and Paige’s slides.