Category Archives: Story Time

Digitally Enhancing a Robots Storytime, by Molly Virello

RobotsRecently for my Saturday storytime, I focused on robots. What better way to break into doing digitally enhanced storytimes than with stories about tech? Even if said stories are silly.

Being that this would be my first ever storytime using the iPad, I knew the planning would be important. Luckily, the Southington Public Library has a bunch of iPads that are routinely used in wonderful programming as part of the Children’s Department repertoire, so I had a good knowledge base from which to start.

While I had the experience of my coworkers behind me, my regular Saturday audience—an audience that isn’t always able to make our weekly programming—hasn’t been exposed to our latest technological programming. I wanted to make sure I impressed this batch of parents, grandparents, and guardians with a seamless program that the kids enjoyed. I wanted to make sure they had a great time and saw the positive potential that such devices have when working with children. Recently there has been a lot of discussion in the media about the use of handheld devices with children—both positive and very negative. I wasn’t sure how the adults in my storytime would react to such a storytime deviation and was mentally preparing for mayhem. So, to combat that, I chose solid stories, both paper and digital, and I included a lot of movement, singing, and other traditional storytime activities.

Despite the seamlessness of planning, there remained one issue: the iPad screens are not ideal for group sharing. Most of the iPad programming at the library is based on the 1-to-1 ratio, so screen size isn’t an issue. Talking with my department head, we ordered connecting cables in order to project the iPad screen onto the wall. However, the cables had not arrived come Storytime day. I wasn’t overly worried, since my Saturday drop-in doesn’t usually exceed 8-10 kids and 10-16 adults. A nice small group.

I planned and practiced and got everything in order. I knew I was going to read the storybook app, not listen to the pre-recording; that way I could go at my own pace, and add my inflection. I knew where all the tap, swipe, shake, etc., extras were and played with them as I practiced. I organized my roster of robot songs, cut out my little felt robots for the flannel board, and even made a “build a bot” section with magnetic pieces to get the kids thinking and designing creatively. I planned shaker songs, dance breaks, counting, and construction. I had everything covered.

Five Little RobotsStorytime started just after 3:30. I had a combined group of 26, which is a good turnout. Everyone trouped into the program room and quietly sat down in little, familial groups. I walked in and started the day as usual by singing our hello song and getting the kids to shake their sillies out with a movement poem. We recited a robot version of “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around.” Next, we sang our have a seat song and read The Trouble with Sisters and Robots by Steve Gritton. While the kids liked the story, and giggled, they were very quiet and didn’t shout out answers when I asked questions. Instead they whispered the answers to their parents, or kept silent. I worried that this wouldn’t be the ideal group for the first foray into tech-land, but pressed on. They got a little livelier once we had a dance break and did the “Five Noisy Robots” flannel board.

Then something amazing happened. I took out the iPad and told the kids I had a special surprise story for them. That’s when they broke out of their shells and really started participating. This isn’t all that surprising, but it was still a very feel-good moment to see the kids breaking away from their adults and crowding around me.

I decided to read Pete’s Robot by HeartDrive Media LLC. Pete’s Robot focuses on creative builder Pete, who builds a robot named Z-123. When Pete forgets to install Z’s heartdrive, the robot runs amok doing things that should be helpful, but end up causing mayhem (and giggles)—like delivering the mail (to the wrong houses) and baking one extremely foul smelling pie. When Z-123 comes upon a little girl with her cat stuck in a tree, he wants to help, but he can’t! He’s missing his heartdrive and doesn’t know what to do! Cue one very out of breath Pete and his equally out of breath dog, Spot. Once Pete corrects his mistake and installs the heartdrive, Z saves the cat from a tree and becomes a hero. Then, Z-123, Pete, and several townspeople (and the cat) form a rock band!

Since I wasn’t able to project the story onto our big projector screen, we were all a little squashed together. I think this added a fun, humanizing element to a story about a robot missing his heart.

While planning and practicing for the program, I had counted each and every drag and drop, swipe, shake, and sound that the app contained. When the kids came in, I gave them each a number. As the kids crowded around and helped me drag and drop, swipe, and even shake our way through the story, they remained rapt and waited patiently. After I had read the text portion of the page, I called out a number and the corresponding child picked one of the interactive elements on the ebook page. They all took turns and there was no fighting. After we finished the app, I let them build their own bot with the magnetic strips, where again they worked great together, often talking about where they thought pieces should go. The picture below is the robot we ended up with.


We finished the day with one more story, Sometimes I Forget You’re a Robot by Sam Brown, a few more songs, and then our goodbye chant.
When I polled the parents about whether the use of the iPad was something they liked and thought I should continue, I received many enthusiastic and resounding yeses. My heart leapt.

I can’t wait to use more tech in my programming and see where else I can take it. I really enjoy the combination of the pictures, the interactive nature of the book itself, and the ways that the iPad leant itself to group participation in a different way than traditional books.
I look forward to doing more digitally enhanced storytimes in the future, and can’t wait to use the connecting cables!

IMG_3505[1]Ms. Molly is a Children’s Librarian at the Southington Public Library who loves storytime and messy science experiments. She has an extreme case of wanderlust, which is inhibited by real life, so she reads a lot. She is a proud nerd & geek, a superhero on weekends, and attempts to do everything—though not all at once. Check out her library blog 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.

Evernote for Storytimes at Helen Plum Library, by Michelle Kilty

As we began our storytime season last fall, we were looking for a way to increase caregiver participation in our storytimes. We have a variety of storytimes at our library – baby storytime, toddler storytimes, preschool storytimes, and family drop-in storytime, all of which include caregivers. Some of our caregivers are new to attending storytime; others were just more uncomfortable.

HPLEvernote4We have multiple staff members running storytimes, and leaders were sharing rhymes, finger plays, and songs differently. Some used handouts; others taught the rhymes to caregivers while in storytime. We wanted to find a universal way to share rhymes, finger plays, and songs – especially since we do communal storytime planning in our department around the same weekly theme. I decided to try and find a way to project words to rhymes, finger plays, and songs onto a large screen that is behind us during storytime. The idea came from an unlikely place – I have attended some church services that project lyrics to songs onto a large screen and thought we could do that!

Evernote is a multi-platform program designed for note taking. It is available in a free and also a paid version. I heard about Evernote before, so I thought the free version might work for this purpose. Our department consists of shared workstations, so having a cloud based program we could utilize at any computer while planning for storytimes was essential. I downloaded Evernote to multiple computers and to our department iPad and spent time playing with Evernote with fellow staff members.

We began adding rhymes, songs, and finger plays to our Evernote account. We enter in each rhyme, song, or finger play as its own note. We then organize “notebooks” based on the week’s theme. That way when we are presenting storytimes we just open the iPad to the week’s “notebook” and all of our rhymes for the week are ready to go. As we continue to add storytime resources to Evernote, we have created a searchable database of rhymes, finger plays, and songs. It is very easy to find our favorite activities for storytime using Evernote.

HPLEvernote1How it works in storytime

We synch the Evernote information through the cloud to the iPad Evernote App. Then we connect the iPad to the projector that is in our programming room. We simply open the Evernote App, select the week’s notebook, and we are ready to go! The Evernote App is quick and easy to navigate so you can seamlessly move between different activities while leading storytime. Now we always connect the iPad to the projector for storytimes. Consequently, it is much easier to transition to different Apps on the iPad while presenting and more staff have learned how to incorporate the iPad into their storytimes. Using Evernote has proved to be an approachable and practical way to help more staff become comfortable using the technology if they want to try it.


Our parental participation has greatly improved! Caregivers are more comfortable singing along, the lyrics are visible and hands are free. Plus, I’m not singing solo anymore with my not-so-strong voice. This has made me more confident incorporating more rhymes and songs in my own storytimes.

Additionally, some of the kids notice the words on the screen and know that we are doing another form of “reading.” I can point to certain words and letters while doing the rhyme or finger play, which helps them understand how letters and words form sounds. I think this is especially useful as kids will have to understand and utilize more forms of media than we can even imagine. Helping them navigate different ways to utilize literacy skills will only help them along their way.

The use of Evernote has extended into other programming as well. We recently hosted an Andy Warhol print making program and were able to use Evernote to show his work on a large scale. The note aspect allowed the program host to quickly navigate through the images without the rigidity of Power Point.

Evernote is available for the following:
Mobile Devices: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, WebOS
Computers: Mac OS X, Windows Desktop, Windows 8

For more information on Evernote check out their website:

Michelle Kilty is the Digital Literacy Librarian in Youth Services at Helen Plum Library in Lombard, IL. You can find her on twitter @michelleannlib.
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.

iPads in Storytime: A Prezi by Anne Hicks

The Monroe County Library System’s Emerging Technology committee held their annual tech camp on February 7th. This year’s tech camp was devoted entirely to children’s and young adult services. I was invited to speak on the topic of incorporating apps and iPads into storytime. The audience included mostly children’s and young adult librarians as well as some library directors. I wasn’t sure how receptive the group would be but the response was overwhelmingly positive! The committee even shared the evaluations with me afterwards because they were so complimentary. Whoo-hoo! It was awesome getting a group of librarians excited about incorporating technology into youth services.

Check out my presentation (make sure the volume on your computer is on in order to hear the voice-over)!

Anne Hicks
Children’s Librarian
Henrietta Public Library

Tacky and the Winter Games in Storytime: Field Notes, by Sarah Kostin

037For my first foray into digitally enhanced storytime, I chose to read the app, “Tacky and the Winter Games” by Oceanhouse Media, during our Olympic-themed Pajama Storytime. This required surmounting some technical issues with the iPad and our projector; it turned out I needed a Lightning to VGA adapter to connect with my 4th generation iPad. And because we do not have a projection screen, I improvised and projected onto our banana-yellow wall. You know, with the lights out, I really didn’t even notice a color difference. The hardest part of setting up was positioning our gigantic media cart, which the projector is bolted onto, and then positioning myself in a good spot so people could see both me and the wall.

Once I got going, I had so much fun reading this way. I felt like the kids and parents were more engaged, especially the parents who were able to read along with me. The book itself is very funny and creates a lot of openings for great audience participation. There was lots of laughter; I felt like a rock star. Because I was standing up, as opposed to being in my normal seated position, it felt more like a theater performance than a reading. This only enhanced the energy of the program.

The Tacky app makes very good use of comedic timing, revealing the funny bits not all at once, but with a page slide of the finger. When it came time to sing the Tacky Olympics Anthem, the whole crowd (those that can read) sang along with me because they had been following along, too. The app included a cute little soundtrack and sound effects that played through my Bluetooth speakers and worked really well to propel the story forward: the sound of the starting gun popping, the sound of Tacky’s fish skis flopping in the snow. Afterwards, I turned on the lights and sat on my regular storytime cushion in the front of the room. I asked the crowd of about 35 kids and 25 adults if they enjoyed it. Applause. I asked the parents specifically if they enjoyed it, and they said “they loved it!”

In planning the program, I felt that I should balance out the digital portion of our program with lots of movement and activity. Because it’s the middle of a long winter in the Rockies, I had been noticing the kids’ and parents’ need for a little more activity and a little less listening. After Tacky was over, we did a short movement song and then moved right into the Olympics portion of our program. I had five events set up along the length of our Children’s section: ring toss, ball toss, high jump, pom pom hockey, and the tunnel. I had two crafts prepared: a pipe cleaner snowboarder (or skier) and a gold or silver medal necklace made with Fruit Loops. I also supplied popcorn in Dixie cups that almost resembled tiny Olympic torches. Overall, I would give this program the “Big Winner” medal.

Sarah Kostin is the Head Youth Services Librarian at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Not one to sit still for very long, she is always looking for new ways to spice up programs or invent new ones. She is super excited about being a member of Little eLit, swapping ideas and exploring all of the new ways that digital media can be incorporated into library programming.

Felt Board app in Storytime: Field Notes, by Stephen Tafoya

Amy Wright, our Children’s Librarian here at the Rifle Branch Library, implemented the Felt Board app (by Software Smoothie) into her “Fly” themed storytime. Amy, who is AWESOME at storytime and working with kids, took to using the app and iPad in a way that made it fun and engaging so that parents and caregivers could really see how technology can be another tool to help build early literacy skills. We even had a good laugh at the little “slip up” that happens part way into the clip, so be sure to watch the whole thing!

Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming.

Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast, by Stephen Tafoya

SamIamThis year was our 4th Annual Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday. However, this was the FIRST year we incorporated technology (besides that magic stuff that turns our eggs GREEN!).

Before the program started, kids filed into our large meeting room, and OH! Every so often, the children would catch a glimpse of a rascally black and white cat prowling around the hallways and by windows. When all the kids and adults were seated, Amy, our Children’s Librarian, started with a Welcome song and message, and THEN…

THE CAT IN THE HAT came out to greet the children!

(AND got her tail stuck in the door. Luckily Amy was there to be a helper!)

The Cat in the Hat comes each year to read Green Eggs and Ham. And this year, the Cat in the Hat read it from the screen using the Green Eggs and Ham iPad app. This gave EVERYONE a good view of the story from the big screen!

After the story was over, everyone sang a silly song; just enough exercise to build up an appetite FOR:

GREEN EGGS & HAM! (and juice and orange slices)

It was a celebration everyone could sink their teeth into!

Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming.

On Starting to Use Apps in Storytime, by Carissa Christner

When I first started using apps in storytime, the things that I was surprised by were:

1. The awkwardness of trying to figure out where to look when I’m projecting from an iPad onto a screen (do I look at the big screen? the iPad screen?  do I sit in front of the screen?  no one’s looking at ME (like they do when I read a book), this is WEIRD!). p.s. I ended up taking Cen’s advice and now I stand, to the side of the screen, holding the iPad, but (as much as possible) looking at the same big screen the audience is looking at.

2.  Remembering to actually play an app all the way through to the end and be sure I know what happens BEFORE I present it in storytime.  I’ll admit that I will still occasionally show an app that’s new to me before I’ve had time to really dig into it, but I’m almost always taken by surprise by either content or length or uncertainty of how to navigate within the app and I always WISH I’d taken the time to familiarize myself with the app better before bringing it to a larger crowd.

3.  Technical glitches.  It worked perfectly when I practiced it before storytime, why won’t it project now?  Have a back-up plan.  Can you just show the app from the iPad screen if you need to?  Do you have an alternative activity instead?

4.  Remembering to share the name of the app with your group so that they can try it at home if they want to.  Either write it down on a whiteboard in the room or post it on paper somewhere or print a bookmark or flyer with a list of the apps you’re using…. something so that you can encourage them to try this new tool at home.

Also, I’ve been LOVING these great slideshare presentations by Emily Lloyd of Hennepin County:

She does such a great job of bringing focus to the WHY of this endeavor and has some excellent sound bites to pass along to parents.

Which reminds me of:

5.  Remembering to include a sentence or two about healthy/balanced ways to incorporate apps into home life.  We’ve done this for years when we talk about how reading to children is such an important part of early literacy–let’s do the same for early media literacy!

Carissa Christner is a librarian with Madison Public Library.

Weighing in on the New Media in Storytime Kerfuffle, by Tara Roberts

First off – I have to point out that I am not a member or a participant of the ALSC listserv.

However, I recently heard of a kerfuffle that stirred up a good bit of discussion concerning the use of Apps, such as those used for smartphones and tablets, in a library’s storytime presentation. The offense started, apparently, when a librarian stated that she uses a small video presentation at the start of her storytime, created with the SockPuppets app, to disseminate “rules of storytime.”

The librarian who created it wanted some “cute” way of telling the rules and being welcoming at the same time. Some librarians are comfortable and use puppets “in real life.” But not everyone is comfortable using puppets. Not everyone is good at performance. The SockPuppets app does provide a great way to solve that, and provide the same information at the beginning of each storytime session.

This caused a bit of a dust up with librarians who wanted no part of any electronic media in their storytimes. (With the exception of CDs, apparently.)

Now I admit I have used filmstrips in the past. You know the kind, it has the BEEP and the cassette accompaniment. And I am not a “puppet person.” That said…

My two cents on this topic of using New Media in storytime:

1) Parents ALREADY are handing over their smartphones and tablets to their little children. I witness that behavior daily while sitting at an Information Desk. I also see that while out in other public locations. I bet that also happens at home.

2) The ALA Guidelines for storytimes are as follows: “Storytimes for infants and toddlers offer an opportunity for children’s librarians to teach and demonstrate strategies which caregivers can use at home to support their child’s early literacy development.” (Reference: <>)

Why not show them how they can use technology–that they are ALREADY using–to their advantage with their children? We teach them fingerplays that parents can use with their children. We show off appropriate books. We even do movement activities to appropriate music. But I don’t see why we can’t expand on that to show them appropriate Apps, which often include BOOK Apps.

Tara Roberts is a Library Associate for the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. She uses an iPad in storytime to not only show off what parents can use themselves, but also to show off the downloadable music and ebooks the library offers, the words to the fingerplays and felt board presentations, and to make the book images larger (to help those with vision problems see the tiny images).

Tacky and the Winter Games


Check out Oceanhouse Media’s Tacky and the Winter Games! What a coincidence that it came out just in time for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games!

Oceanhouse Media and a whole host of other indy app developers will be working with LittleeLit to distribute promo codes to librarians for use in their storytimes or other library programs. More details soon, and if you’d like to help manage the logistics for this project, let us know!

Also, to add even more context to Oceanhouse Media’s perspective on apps as a developer, head over to Digital Media Diet for an interview with Oceanhouse Media President Michel Kripalani.

Tiny Bang Story in Storytime, by Carissa Christner

After reading Carisa Kluver’s great list of Five Great Puzzle Apps to use with kids 4-10, I was excited to try out the Tiny Bang Story app. I have a very popular monthly Saturday storytime called Donuts with Dad that often brings in a wide range of ages. This month’s story theme was “Teeny Tiny,” so the app was a good fit for the group and the theme, but I wasn’t sure how well a puzzle app would work in a storytime setting.

screen480x480In preparation for this demonstration, I played with it for a while the night before with my son (to make sure I knew how it worked) and really enjoyed working together with him on it. If I had heard about the app earlier, I would have preferred to have multiple sessions of playing it together with him before using it in storytime (and to test his long-term interest in and patience for the game—he’s not usually a sitting-still, puzzle-loving kind of kid, so if he can sit still and enjoy it, I feel confident recommending it!), but since I’d only heard about it the day before storytime, I chose to trust Carisa’s recommendation.

Integrating this app into storytime wasn’t quite as seamless as an ebook would have been, but I opened the game (note: it has a really long animated intro the first time you open it, so I let that play all the way through before storytime so we could get straight to the game), gave a brief demonstration (including having one of the kids in the room help me find one of the puzzle pieces that they spotted but that I didn’t see), and then I used the opportunity to talk about how apps can be used the same way that board games and big puzzles are–as a way for families to play TOGETHER!

I explained that the puzzles were probably too difficult for most of the kids in the room to do on their own, but that with an adult and child working together, I thought it could work well for an even wider age range than 4-10. I had several parents come up afterwards to ask about the app (I’d forgotten to write the app name on my whiteboard like I usually do, but my mistake ended up being a nice way to gauge actual interest).

I worried that (even more than usual, since I could really only show them a small teaser) talking about this app would feel like an advertisement in the middle of storytime—advertising a product that I cannot loan the listeners for free, and which some of them won’t even be able to access at home (although at least this one is available on both Apple and Android platforms). I’d like to think that my message about using apps together as a family activity was as strong a message as (or perhaps stronger than) my recommendation of this specific app, but I wonder if any other librarians struggle with this dilemma and if anyone has come up with an answer.