Category Archives: Story Time

eStorytime at Park Ridge Public Library, by Staci Greenwald

Beginning in December 2013, the Park Ridge Public Library in Park Ridge, IL, began offering an iPad storytime called eStorytime. As of the date of this posting, we have had three sessions of eStorytime; each of which has been more successful than the one before. The program is a mix of traditional picture books, felt stories, puppet and prop stories, and early literacy apps on the iPad. We began this program as a means to introduce parents and caregivers to a variety of apps and stories while also modeling how to utilize them effectively with their own children.

DSC00261Our setup has been very minimal so far with the iPad hardwired into our projector. Since I do not typically move around too much during storytime, this setup has met our needs fairly well. However, in the future, it would be nice to go wireless. Our room setup is essentially the same as it is for our other storytimes with the addition of the screen on which to project the iPad. We have a small table and a chair for the storyteller, a storytime rug, and a few chairs set up for adults. Along the side of the room we have early literacy information for caregivers as well as copies of the stories we will read and some other books that might be of interest. This is particularly helpful when we read an eBook for which I can put out a physical book as well to show the relationship between the two formats.

We offer the program for all ages on Monday afternoons at 1:30. Typically we get a younger crowd (2-5 years old) unless school is out that day. Because it is offered for all ages, however, I try to over plan with a variety of stories for both older and younger kids and then make the call about what to read on the fly based on the current crowd/mood.

So far, I have been very pleased with this storytime. The kids seem really seem to enjoy it, and it has been a blast for me to plan as well. Ultimately, my goal is to incorporate digital storytelling into standard storytimes like any other story format as a means of further enriching the experience.

Below is a list of the stories we have done so far, both traditional and app-based.


• Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Litwin
• Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Willems
• Go Away Big Green Monster (felt)
• Grumpy Bird by Tankard
• Monkey See, Monkey Do (fingerplay – with monkey image on screen)
• Happiest Animal (puppets and props)
• Little Mouse (felt)
• Prairie Chicken Little by Hopkins
• A Hunting We Will Go (song with felt)


Pete the Cat School Jam (HarperCollins Publishers) – While reading the book, I used the “bonus” part of the app which allows you to utilize the iPad’s video camera to project a live image of the kids up on the screen with a Pete the Cat border and some accompanying tunes so we could all sing along with Pete.
Felt Board (Software Smoothie) – 5 Little Kittens, 5 Little Piggies, and Hickory Dickory Crash! (with rhythm sticks)
Pigeon Presents Mo… on the Go! (Disney) – Build a Monster
Peekaboo Zoo Lite (Touch & Learn)
Three Little Pigs (Nosy Crow book app)
Hugless Douglas by Melling (Hachette UK book app)

Staci Greenwald is a Children’s Services Librarian and School Services Coordinator at the Park Ridge Public Library in Park Ridge, IL.
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.

Early Literacy Tips on Screen, by Anne Hicks

Since I had my flat screen television and Apple TV installed, I’ve been testing out various ways to utilize them in storytime. From the beginning I’ve used it during toddler storytime to mirror apps, ebooks, and song sheets. I had not used it during baby storytime because I was unsure how best to use it with this age group and whether I should use it with them at all. I believe that tablets can be used with very small children but the use should revolve around child and adult interactions. That is more easily achieved through one-on-one sharing of a tablet. A fleet of tablets would be perfect for that but alas, I only have one storytime tablet (which I am very grateful to have!).

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 7.04.41 AM

I decided to use the iPad to mirror early literacy tips onto the big screen. I try to keep it very simple with just a few tips per storytime. I have “branded” the information by including my library’s logo. I leave the information up throughout the entire storytime and have definitely noticed people reading it and commenting on it. I had previously included early literacy tips on my handouts but wasn’t sure how many of the caregivers were actually reading them. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try sharing the information in another way, and it seems to be pretty effective.

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 7.04.50 AM

Another thing I plan to try during my next session of baby storytime is to use the iPad to mirror the rhymes and songs we’ll be reciting. I hope to just put one rhyme/song up on the screen at a time and swipe through them as we go through the storytime. This idea occurred to me, but I talked myself out of it thinking that parents would rather have the paper handouts. However, during my last storytime, a mother actually said to me, “Have you thought of using the TV to share the rhymes?” She said she would prefer that because then she wouldn’t have to try to keep the paper sheet out of her daughter’s mouth and would be able to focus on the rhymes more.

So I’ll give it a try and see how it goes. The wonderful thing about having this technology available is that I’m able to test out different ways to use it and see what works best for me and my patrons.

Anne Hicks is a Children’s Librarian with the Henrietta 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.

Creating a Multimedia Story, by Mary Dushel

eLit PhotoI am always looking for new and interesting way to use the iPad in storytime. I have used it several times to show pictures of something that is in one of the books that we read. For example, when we read a book about a grandfather’s topiary garden, I showed pictures of real, rather impressive topiaries (teaching background knowledge).

Recently, while planning a storytime about windy days, I came across a book, Blowin’ in the Wind, lyrics by Bob Dylan and illustrations by Jon J. Muth. It included a CD with the original recording of the song. The book contained the words from the song with beautiful illustrations. I was trying to figure out how to read this book, show the pictures, and listen to the CD all at the same time. But, I only have two hands. So, I turned it into a “movie,” a multimedia story.

I used iMovie on the iPad. I uploaded the song into iTunes and took pictures of all of the pages of the book. I moved the song and the pictures into iMovie. Since I took the pictures in order, they loaded into iMovie in order (thankfully). I timed the pictures to match the words of the song, played around with the transitions between pictures, and there it was. It took me less than an hour to do this whole project. And, I had never used iMovie before so I was learning that as I went along. In the interest of full disclosure, I have used Windows Movie Maker. iMovie is easier to use.

Then along came storytime, so we read the books and sang the songs and rhymed the rhymes, then I told them I had a movie for them to watch. I explained what it was, turned the lights out, fired up the iPad and…

They loved it.

I heard one little child “whisper” to his Mom, “We’re watching a movie, Mommy!” Such a treat.

Mary Dushel is a Library Associate and Early Learning Specialist at the Anne Arundel County Public Library in Maryland. She learned to love reading to children with her own children sitting on her lap. Now that they are in their 20s, she comes to work and reads to other children. It turns out that she loves that, too.
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.

Tigers and Elephants and Underwear, Oh My! Mixing it up with the iPad in Story Time, by Naomi Smith

I started using the iPad in my toddler story times last fall. I usually project an interactive ebook or do a small app-tivity with the kids and it has been going really well. However, I sometimes struggle during the planning process to come up with fun new apps or ebooks to use. Then it hit me: I beg, borrow and steal ideas from colleagues (both virtual and in person) for other parts of my story times. Why not mix some of those ideas in with technology?

Last week I subbed for my co-worker’s preschool story time. We are both doing alphabet themes, and the letter of the week was T. While I was planning, I happened to read article in ALSC’s Children & Libraries called “Participation Palooza! Creating a Festive Storytime Atmosphere with Interactive Books” by Jessica Pyrek. She suggested David LaRochelle’s It’s a Tiger as a book where kids could participate with movement. I remembered that we have that book in our library’s Axis360 collection on the Blio app. I checked it out and downloaded to use with the kiddos.

Before the story, I gave clues and had the kids guess which “T” animal we were going to read about next. I told them we were going to put the book on the big screen so we could all see it, and that we all had to stand up so that we could get away from the tiger together. After a brief glitch with the Apple TV (while I rebooted, the kids all assured me that their TVs at home worked), we stood up for the story. The kids had a great time running, climbing ladders, doing the other actions and pointing out the tiger on every page. Since I just had the iPad Mini in my hand, I could do the actions a lot better than if I had been holding the book.

Digital Story Time April 2014 013_Tiger1

This week, I used the iPad for planning and promoted our Digital Kids page in story time in combination with a traditional flannel. I wanted an underwear activity to do with my toddlers and decided to check the Bedtime Math app for inspiration. I found a fun math problem about underwear for wee ones and made a flannel of three pairs of purple-elephant underwear and three pairs of striped underwear to do the problem with my toddlers.

Bedtime Underwear

During toddler story time, I did a short rhyme about underwear and then I put four pairs on the flannel board in a pattern and told them we were going to do a little problem. I asked them the question, “If you go back and forth between striped underwear and purple-elephant underwear, and you wore stripes yesterday and elephants today, which kind will you wear tomorrow?” They got it right the first time! I then took the opportunity to tell the caregivers why I was doing a math problem (because early math knowledge predicts not only later math success, but later reading success) and told them about the Bedtime Math app. One mom piped up and said that she loved the app and uses it at home with her 3- year-old. After story time, she handed another mom one of our cards that advertises our app lists and showed her how to download the app on her phone!

Thanks to Cen, Amy and Littleelit for letting me share. Now I don’t feel so guilty for all of the idea borrowing I have been doing!

Naomi Smith is a Youth Services Librarian for Parkland/Spanaway branch of the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA, where she gets to do the Baby and Toddler Story Times. She is also mom to two young children. Her four-year-old son wonders aloud at why a grown-up has so many kids’ games and stories on her iPad.
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, or send her an email 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.

iKids: Adding Tablets & Apps to Your Programs for Young Children, by Lisa Mulvenna

Last week I was invited to speak at the Michigan Library Association’s Spring Institute on the topic of using apps in storytime. This was a great chance to share what I have been doing in my programs for the past 1 ½ years with 75 or so Michigan librarians.

In addition to discussing research and reviews to help librarians find their own apps, I showed off some of my favorites for storytime. For those who were already app savvy, I showed off ideas for taking apps to the next level, including an all app-based storytime (see my Farm Fun program plan here) and app recommendations for your library’s web site. My session handout is linked here.

Based on the feedback that I got, the librarians who attended came out with a lot of good information. In addition, a few librarians stayed afterwards and we had an additional discussion on apps to use at the reference desk, which sounds like another presentation topic!

Lisa Mulvenna is the Head of Youth Services for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library and one of the three co-founders of MiKidLib. You can also find her blogging at or on Twitter at @lmulvenna.
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.

A First-Time Digital Storytime Experience, by Allison Tran

The first time I saw digital storytime in action, I was amazed to see how effectively we can engage an audience with a book app. I realized that the presentation style and level of audience involvement isn’t necessarily any different from “traditional” storytime– it’s just that the book is so much more visible. Watching an expert share a book app was like a lightbulb going off in my head, and the first time I actually got to try it myself was most definitely another lightbulb experience. But I’m not going to lie: it was also AWKWARD.

Despite the fact that I’ve done storytime with print books for seven years, despite the fact that I’m comfortable in front of a crowd, despite the fact that I’m a regular iPad user—wow, attempting to manipulate the iPad while referring to the screen while interacting with the audience was more challenging than I expected.

The video in this post shows me sharing the book app of Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton in a digital literacy training, and it’s basically a cold reading. I’m familiar with the print version of this book, but I’d only seen the app version once, very briefly. And suddenly I was volunteering to get up in front of my colleagues and present it as if I had any idea what I was doing.

So, what did I take away from this first attempt? Learning to use apps in storytime is a process—one that takes practice and thoughtful preparation. The actual experience was exhilarating, slightly disorienting, and fun. There were moments where I felt like, “Oh! Okay, I’ve got this!” and other moments where I felt like, “What am I doing up here? Where should I swipe? Where should I look?” There’s a lot to think about: managing the device, referencing the screen, interacting with the audience—and, of course, remembering to smile! More than anything, I felt like this skill could only get better with practice, so I kind of wanted to try again immediately after finishing the story.

Even though I cringe seeing myself on video, I think this video will be essential in my journey to becoming adept with this new format. Watching it, I see that I’m not quite as awkward as I felt, but there are definitely aspects of my performance I can work on. Here’s my personal critique:

Needs improvement
* I need to work on getting my head out of the device and making more eye contact with the audience.
* I would definitely be more familiar with the app I’m sharing before presenting it in a real storytime. I would practice enough to know exactly where on the screen to swipe to turn the pages, and would test out all of the app’s interactivity to have a solid idea of which bells and whistles I want to share and which ones I want to skip.

Right on!
* I used the app’s background music to emphasize the fun you can have with rhythm and pacing.
* I got the audience involved.
* I created a teaching moment when I accidentally prompted the narrator to say a vocab word–I didn’t mean to pull it up, but I explained to the audience what had happened and moved on.
* There were a few pages where the interactivity I expected simply didn’t happen. User error? Probably. But rather than fuss with it, I just kept going. Hopefully nobody was the wiser!

Let me admit something to you about myself: I’m a perfectionist. The idea of sharing with the world something less than completely put-together is scary to me. This video of my first attempt at digital storytime is–well, it’s not a shining example of best practices. It’s a glimmer. It’s a hope. So, I sincerely hope that I can share with you another video in a few months that shows me more confident, more practiced, more polished.

Do you use ebooks or apps in your storytimes? How did you feel the first time you tried it? What helped you build confidence?

Allison Tran, Mission Viejo 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.

Press Here: First Session of Tablet Time, by Angela Reynolds

photoHere’s a recap of my first session (of four) of Tablet Time. Attending were 3 children and 2 parents. Because I only have 6 iPads, I have limited the registration to 6 kids, so half-full isn’t bad for this rural library. I started by reading a few books. The “featured” book was Press Here by Herve Tullet. Kids love this book—it is so interactive, they love seeing the “magic” that happens. My only caution–when the book asks readers to blow on the dots, hold that book up and away from you, because little kids do not know how to blow without spitting.

dotsOur next activity was dot alphabet matching. I created a page of the alphabet—upper and lower case (see picture). Each child got a sheet of dots. We wrote their names, one letter per dot, and they got to search for the letter on the sheet. Then they pressed the dot over the letter. They wanted to do more than just their names, and I gave parents extra pages of letters and sheets of dots to do the activity at home. We tried another activity, which was to write their names on paper and put tiny dots along the letters, but this was too hard for the youngest ones and not as exciting as looking for letters.

Next up, the app Press Here. One thing I love about this app is that there are really no instructions. You just figure it out, and play. There are 15 different games, all involving dots. There’s a fireworks game which involves making, well, fireworks. There’s a music game, a sports game for 2 players called “Inside Goal,” a memory game, and more. I asked the parents to spend some time with their kids testing out this app, talking to them and working together. After they spent about 10 minutes with that app, they had free-play time. The kids did enjoy this app—though the youngest of them (3 years old) enjoyed it more. She played with it for quite a while, and I heard some good parent-child interaction going on.

One of the moms was looking for good apps for her son who is in speech therapy. He really enjoyed Alphabet Car and was even able to unlock a new level in the game–he was really enjoying saying the letter aloud when he ran it over with his bus.


The kids really enjoyed each having their own iPads, which is why I think I will keep this program small. When I tried this program before, we had 6 iPads for 20 people, and while they were really good about sharing, they much preferred this format of being able to really spend some time with the apps.

Angela Reynolds
Head of Youth Services
Annapolis Valley Regional 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.

Make it Work! by Anne Hicks

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 8.02.22 PMSo I finally have the equipment to do digital storytelling! Thanks to a generous donation from our Friends group, we were able to purchase a 70-inch flat screen TV and an Apple TV. As with the implementation of any new technology I had a few kinks to work out.

I practiced mirroring to the TV before I tried to use it in storytime and found that when the library was closed, everything worked perfectly! However, when the public was in the building, my apps ran really slow and stuttered. We have a staff only, password-protected wi-fi network and a public network. My guess was that the stuttering was due to congestion on the network (full disclosure – I’m not a tech person so excuse me if my conjecture is way off!). I was on the staff network and didn’t understand why I was having trouble. We have a fairly small staff and besides cell phones, the staff network doesn’t get used too much.

After asking our network administrator some questions (and my husband who is a tech librarian!), it seems that while it appears that we have two networks, it is really just one network that is split. So the heavy traffic on the public network may have caused my issues with stuttering.

My solution was one that many Little eLit members have come to–using my phone as a personal hotspot. Everything works perfectly now! I should have just done that from the start.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 8.02.09 PMMy next issue is one that I haven’t found a perfect solution to yet. After using an app, if I close the iPad, it will drop the connection to my personal hotspot. If I leave the iPad “open,” my home screen will be mirrored to the TV. That’s not a big deal, but I wanted a black screen on the TV when I’m not using an app. I just felt it would be less distracting for the kids and parents and would bring their attention to whatever I’m doing, i.e., reading a physical book , doing a felt board, etc…

My solution was to use the Keynote app. I basically created a presentation in Keynote that had a black slide, followed by a slide with the lyrics to the song we sang, followed by a black slide, followed by a slide with images I planned to show during the storytime, followed by a black slide, and so on… I just went through the presentation as we completed each activity. So when I wasn’t using the screen, it was black and everyone’s attention was on me.

I think Tim Gunn would be proud of me–I made it work–but if anyone knows how I can get the iPad to stay connected to my personal hotspot even when it’s closed, I would love to hear it!

Check out my blog, Anne’s Library Life, for a full outline of my Boat themed digital storytime.

Anne Hicks is a Children’s Librarian with the Henrietta 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.

Rancho Cucamonga Library Digital Literacy Evaluations Project: New Media Storytime Training

Last week Carisa Kluver and I facilitated a 2 day training with the enthusiastic & thoughtful librarians and storytellers and the Rancho Cucamonga Library. We are developing some handouts and resources for their staff & community that will go up in the next few days as well.

Here’s some tips & tricks for getting starting with using new media in storytimes, and our slides from the training itself.

Storytime Tips & Tricks for Using iPad-based New Media

Preparation & Planning

  • Consider planning, preparing & even presenting your first few new media storytime sessions with a buddy! Schedule some time to run through your stories & activities with another storyteller, and give each other feedback.
  • Consider the following three ways to start using your iPad in storytime:
    1. Find a digital version of a paper book that you feel comfortable sharing in storytime
    2. Create a digital felt board out of a favorite song, rhyme or story
    3. Create a slideshow (in Keynote or other presentation software) with lyrics to a new song, plus a relevant screen shot or image. For example, you could post the words to “pop goes the weasel” with an image of a real weasel (and a cobbler’s bench, while you’re at it!)
  • Run through the set-up (AppleTV, WiFi & mirroring) a few times before the day of your storytime
  • Practice, practice, practice! Take time to get comfortable setting up the iPad, switching from one app to another, or remembering what to do if an app becomes unresponsive (hint: kill the app!) Contact your tech support folks for help if you need it!
Cobbler's Bench

Cobbler’s Bench

Implementing your New Media Storytime

  • On the day of your storytime, before sure to run through every app you plan to use in the program mirrored through the AppleTV. The app may have been updated recently, or there might be something buggy with the display.
  • During storytime, be sure to make eye contact with the participants, and try to mostly look at the screen they are looking at; try not to look down at the device in your hand to read the text of the story.
  • If you use a digital book, make sure to have paper copies of that book available for checkout, other books on the same topic, or books by the same author
  • Include a welcome slide in your presentation and a set of resources at the end (book, songs & apps used in the storytime). Upload the slides to your library’s website.
  • Include tips for parents on how to use new media in a way that supports the development of relationships.
  • Have fun, and be open with your community about what you are doing. Tell them you’re just learning how to use apps in storytime, and that librarians provide reader’s advisory services for digital books for kids now. Ask for suggestions & input! Maybe you’ve got some expertise in the community that you could draw from!