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ECRR 2.0: Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs

Many thanks to Dorothy Stoltz, Dr Chip Donohue, Carisa Kluver, Naomi Smith, Dr Betsy Diamant-Cohen & Tess Prendergast for serving on our ECRR 2.0: Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs panel at ALA in Las Vegas this past weekend. Below are my brief slides, Chip’s slides, Carisa’s book app review criteria, Naomi & Tess’ resources & app recommendations, and all the other apps that everyone shared, plus apps that came up in discussion after the panel.

Naomi Smith


Pierce County Library’s Digital Kids site: tips on healthy media use, library e-book recommendations, and app recommendations from librarians for Android and iOS devices aimed at ages 2-6 and their caregivers.

Apps demoed:

Letter School from Sanoma Netherlands BV—Writing

Endless Alphabet from Originator—Talking, Playing, Vocabulary

Bunny Fun: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes  from Auryn Media–Singing

The Monster at the End of This Book  from Sesame Workshop—Reading and Playing

Tess Prendergast

Collins Big Cat: It Was a Cold, Dark Night Story Creator By HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

Tess’s review:
For a free app, parents, caregivers and children get a lot! This is a lovely bedtime story app book that is suitable to read to children ages 2 and up. Emerging readers will love reading it themselves or listening to the charming narration. Although it has interactive elements on each page (swishing leaves, glowing lights etc.) none of them seem particularly distracting from the main story, which is about Ned the hedgehog’s search for a cozy place to sleep for the winter. After finishing the story, readers can set about making up their own stories, using a collection of illustrations and backgrounds. Once a scene has been created, you can add both written and spoken text to accompany each page. The story is suitable for telling at storytime, preferably projected onto a screen for good visibility. Following that, I recommend briefly demonstrating how parents and their children can make up their own night time stories to tell and retell. If you have iPads in your library available for families to use, I highly recommend this app. This would be a particularly good choice for parent-child app workshops where participants have time to play with the app together.

Our Story by the Open University

Tess’s review:
I found out about this free app when I read a recent academic paper about the use of iPads in early childhood classrooms that was written by some UK scholars (Flewitt, Messer, & Kucirkova, 2014). I downloaded the app immediately and started playing with it. Basically, it is allows you to write and narrate simple books using the device’s camera roll pictures to illustrate your story. I used photographs from a recent program to write and narrate a short book but the possibilities are endless. Anything that can be captured on the camera can be incorporated into books. The books can be saved and easily sent as pdfs and/or audiovisual files to anyone else over email. Because of its simplicity, this would be a great app to recommend to parents of very young children who want to make stories about their daily lives together with their children to send to grandparents or other relatives and friends. I particularly like the ease by which one can add recordings to accompany the pictures. It would be wonderful to receive a story narrated with a young child’s first words wouldn’t it? The pdf versions can easily be printed and bound into lovely little books. Highly recommended for parents and anyone else who works with young children.


Flewitt, R., Messer, D., & Kucirkova, N. (2014). New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The iPad. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. doi: 10.1177/1468798414533560

Superhero Booth HD for iPad

Tess’s review:
I used this .99 cent app as part of a Superhero party for our summer reading club. We had 5 stations: books; art; Captain Underpants names chart; puzzles & quizzes; photo booth. We took pictures of the kids one at a time and helped them select their superhero embellishments. We then printed them out and emailed the pictures to their parents’ email addresses. They were really cute and kids loved making themselves into superheroes!

Go Away, Big Green Monster! for iPad By Night & Day Studios, Inc.

Tess’s review:
Probably one of the best children’s book apps, this version of the perfect picture book has it all. A read aloud option, two different narrated options (one by a child, the other by the original book’s author, Ed Emberley) and a wonderful sing-a-long version. I personally recommend using this app in storytime programs or parent-child app workshops only after reading the traditional print book at least once all the way through. I have successfully used this app in Halloween or Monster themed programs as well as in early childhood education workshops where book apps for young children are examined and discussed.

Mother Goose on the Loose App

Carisa’s Criteria for Reviewing Book Apps:

Criteria Consistent Across Formats for Kid’s Illustrated Content (ebooks, apps, print)

New Criteria to Consider for Digital Formats

High Quality Illustrations

Relevant enhancements that support narrative

Easy to Read, Large Font

Seamless integration of features & enhancements

Developmentally Appropriate Content (Length, Reading Level, Topics, Language)

Audio & Sound effects that don’t interfere with voice-over or other features.

Well-written, nicely paced & chunked text

Technical polish, stability, ease of use & navigation settings, flexible use.

High Quality Content (not thinly disguised advertisement for game, movie, food, etc.)

No ads, in-app purchases & links that leave the app (unless under sufficient parental gate).

Engaging content worth of return visits

Clearly identified author/illustrator/producer.

Ways to extend beyond the book

Quality games or other extras (if present) that do not interrupt narrative or reading comprehension.


The Apps are All Right! Exploring the Role of Apps in Children’s & Teen Services  #alaac14

Many thanks for a great panel at ALA Annual! Tess Prendergast, Carisa Kluver & I were there in person to discuss the Role of Apps in Children’s & Teen Services , and Barbara Klipper was there with us in spirit but not in person because she was attending her Caldecott committee meeting.

Below are slides from Tess, Barbara and I, along with links to Carisa’s review & evaluation resources, and the following handouts:

The Apps are All Right: Tess Prendergast

Notes for iPads, Apps and Kids With Autism (Teens too): Barbara Clipper

Slides for iPads, Apps and Kids With Autism (Teens too): Barbara Klipper

App Review Sites & Resources

AppAbled: App Advice for the special needs community
Children’s Technology Review: Picky Teacher app reviews
Common Sense Media: All kinds of media reviews & training curricula for digital literacy Books apps
EdApps4Sale: Run by Digital Storytime; tells you when apps drop in price. Also includes app suggestions for the early learning practices

Training at Las Vegas-Clark County Library District #alaac14

Before the ALA annual conference got fully underway here in Sin City, Carisa and I had the opportunity to speak with an enthusiastic bunch of librarians at the Las Vegas Library at the invitation of the lovely Mary Nelson. We learned yet more ways to hack together networks (Apparently I need to get a Thunderbolt Ethernet Adaptor for my bag-o-tricks), and shared some ideas for incorporating iPads into storytime. Each branch has their own to play with now, and the librarians have been tasked with making lists of apps they want to try out!

Here are our slides, with a list of the apps we demonstrated. We can’t wait to hear what you guys are going to do with your brand new devices! Please report back on what you learn! We’d love to hear how it goes.

Little eLit @ #alaac14: Saturday Sessions

ALA14 logoLibrary folks will be flocking to Las Vegas next week for the 2014 ALA Annual Conference. Many a person from Little eLit will be in attendance and presenting a handful of sessions that touch on the topic of young children and new media. Considering adding these Saturday, June 28 sessions to your schedule:

The Apps are All Right! Exploring the Role of Apps in Children’s and Teen Services

Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 8:30am to 10:00am
Las Vegas Convention Center, S230


  • Barbara Klipper, Consultant and Author, Serving the Spectrum, Stamford, CT
  • Carisa Kluver, Founder,; Editor,
  • Cen Campbell, Founder,
  • Tess Prendergast, Doctoral Candidate, Early Literacy, University of British Columbia

Designed as a primer for children’s and teen librarians, this session offers a dynamic overview of the place of the app as a new format within our profession. Four panelists will provide relevant research and examples from practice with diverse populations of children and teens. Participants will also be invited to explore the continuously evolving rationale for strengthening the role of the children’s and teen librarian in app recommendation for the communities we serve.

ECRR 2.0: Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs

Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Las Vegas Convention Center, S230


  • Carisa Kluver, Founder,; Editor,
  • Cen Campbell, Founder,
  • Chip Donohue, Dean of Distance Learning & Continuing Education; Director of TEC Center, Erikson Institute
  • Claire Moore, Head of Children’s Services, Darien Library
  • Naomi Smith, Youth Services Librarian, Pierce County Library

Interactions between grownups and young children using technology can enhance the child’s learning experience, just as using printed storybooks can. This panel will discuss digital technology for young children in the context of the ECRR Five Practices. Come join the discussion.

Rancho Cucamonga Library Staff Development Day with @iPad_storytime

On Friday Carisa and I presented a few sessions at the Rancho Cucamonga Library’s staff development day. Here are our slides!

Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between by Jason Boog

I am very, very pleased to share that I got my ARC of Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age — From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between in the mail…..

….and we’re in it. Many thanks to the following LittleeLit Think Tankers who gave Jason their time, energy & thoughts: Anne Hicks, Betsy Diamant-Cohen, Carisa Kluver,  Carissa Christener, Genesis Hansen, Paige Bentley Flannery and Stephen Tafoya.

Order this book for your libraries!!!! And mad props to Jason Boog, especially! I’m going to sit down and read now!


Rancho Cucamonga New Media Storytime Training #2

It’s been a busy week for trainings! Carisa and I visited the Rancho Cucamonga Library in Southern California for their second New Media Storytime Training, which is a pilot project connected to the California State Library’s Early Learning with Families 2.0 Initiative (for which I am a consultant). We’re developing a new media in storytime curriculum, as well as pulling in other elements of the ELF2.0 initiative, such as the Brazelton Touchpoints Child Development Curriculum for Library Staff. What a lot of information to keep track of! Learn more about what the Young Children, New Media & Libraries Initiative is doing through ELF2.0 at this upcoming webinar on May 8th!

Here are the apps we demoed, and below are the slides we used to guide our conversation.

Annoying Fly (Sing “Shoe Fly, Don’t Bother Me!”)
Blue Hate Green Hat (Good for being explicit about why you are using technology; because Boynton books are so small!)
Little Robot Lost His Square (Very gentle, minimal interactivity)
Mother Goose on the Loose (Use as felt board and music; also model caregiver/child engagement)
Peekaboo Barn (Use this one with an animal puppet)
Very Cranky Bear (This is the one that may not work well for younger kids)

Homework for the next training session is as follows:

Use Keynote to create a guide for your new media storytime. Include at least the following slides, but please feel free to experiment!

  1. Welcome Slide
  2. Slide with an image
  3. Slide with Lyrics (or perhaps parent tips)
  4. Resource Slide

Include three digital elements in your storytime plan, in addition to physical props and paper books (unless you have a good reason for including ONLY digital content). Here is a list of suggestions of things to try:

  • Felt Board or Mother Goose on the Loose App (live or screen shots)
  • Book App
  • Non-book app (e.g. Wee Sing ABC or Endless Alphabet)
  • Digital Book from another source (like iBooks, the Kindle app, your libray’s digital collection or another bookshelf app)
  • Digital sounds (e.g. animal sounds; either from an app or imported into your presentation)
  • Digital music (either from within an app like the Laurie Berkener app or through iTunes)
  • Upload your own photos
  • Create your own story or video (e.g. with Sock Puppets, iMovie or 30hands)
  • Anything else you can think of! Be creative!

I’d like to point out that when we do these trainings we are asking a LOT of the storytellers. Not only are we asking them to interface with a brand-new technology, we are also asking them to take into consideration new information about child development, suggestions for working with parents, physical combinations and placement of physical things and digital things, plus all the usual presentation, storytelling and general all-round professionalness of standing at the front of a room facilitating a storytime. We’re also asking managers to guide their staff through a steep learning curve and figure out how to provide off-desk time for practice & general technology troubleshooting, and also supporting brand new storytellers. Libraries that are implementing system-wide new media storytime trainings are truly at the cutting edge of what is happening in the profession, and we commend the courage it takes to jump in like this.

LittleeLit at ALA Annual in Vegas!

It looks like we’ll be participating in at least 4 different sessions at ALA Annual in Vegas! Here’s what we know so far:

The Apps are all Right
Cen Campbell, Barbara Klipper, Carisa Kluver & Tess Prendergast
Saturday, June 28 at 8:30 am – 10:00am.

Designed as a primer for children’s and teen librarians, this session offers a dynamic overview of the place of the app as a new format within our profession. Four panelists will provide relevant research and examples from practice with diverse populations of children and teens. Participants will also be invited to
explore the continuously evolving rationale for strengthening the role of the children’s and teen librarian in app recommendation for the communities we serve.

ECRR 2.0: Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs
PLA Sponsored Session: Phyllis Bontrager, Cen Campbell, Chip Donohue, Carisa Kluver, Claire Moore & Naomi Smith
Saturday, June 28 at 1:00 to 2:30

Parents and librarians want to know how to safely integrate apps and eBooks into their lives without feeling guilty. A panel of practitioners will explore: the current research on the effects of digital media on children, how to model healthy media behavior, when apps are useful, and how they can be incorporated into collections and programming.

Whet Your APPetite: Rapid Reviews of Apps for Children from Preschool to Tweens
ALSC Hot Topic: Paige Bentley-Flannery, Cen Campbell, Amy Graves, Marianne Martens, Claire Moore & Allison Santos
Sunday June 29 1-2:30 PM

Are you ready to start using apps in your library programs and services? Already using apps but want to try something different? Looking for new recommendations for caregivers and children? Come to our showcase of new and favorite apps selected by ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee and Digital Content Task Force. The recommendations will be paired with concrete ideas for how to use these apps with children in your library.

Dynamic Digital Dia: Promoting Cultural Competence in Digital Storytimes
Cen Campbell, Jamie Naidoo & Karen Nemeth
Sunday June 29 3-4 PM

For almost 20 years, librarians have used Día to celebrate literacy and cultural and linguistic diversity. By getting digital with Día, librarians can provide broader access to culturally responsive materials, connect digital natives with global children’s literature, and provide interactive programs promoting cultural and digital literacies. Navigating the fluctuating landscape of digital media, this dynamic session provides selection criteria and suggestions for using apps and digital books to promote cultural competence in children’s library programs.


Rancho Cucamonga New Media Storytime Images

I just wanted to share some photos we took at the Rancho Cucamonga Library Digital Literacy Evaluations Project New Media Storytime Training last week. We’re going back in a few weeks and can’t wait to spend some more quality time with the staff!

Thanks Rancho!

Carisa Kluver setting up in the Biane Library Story Theatre

Carisa Kluver setting up in the Biane Library Story Theatre

Comfy chairs for our workshop participants!

Comfy chairs for our workshop participants!

Just in case you're wondering: these are the Trident Handstrap iPad cases

Just in case you’re wondering: these are the Trident Handstrap iPad cases

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!