Blog Archives

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.

California State Library: Early Learning with Families 2.0

I’ve been a little AWOL from the Little eLit blog recently. Many thanks to Amy for keeping content fresh while I’ve been elsewhere! Here’s one of the projects I’m going to be working on, and the official announcement from Gerry Maginnity, the Acting State Librarian of California.

My part in ELF 2.0 will be to create a technology tooklit to help children’s librarians integrate new media and technology for children into library collections, services and programs (It will be free and available to the public once it’s done. The prototype should be ready by November.) This project will be the next iteration of an existing project, the original ELF, but like so many other initiatives, ELF needs to be re-worked to take into account the realities of modern information consumption, especially for families with young children. I’ll be doing a whole lot of talking at the California Library Association Conference in Long Beach in November, where I’ll be working with Dr. Josh Sparrow of the Brazelton Touchpoints CenterCarisa Kluver of Digital StorytimeShira Lee Katz of Common Sense Media, Francie Dillon, Sharon Krull, and a whole pile of library rockstars. We’ll also be putting on some webinars and in-person trainings around California.

There are two related technology for children pilot projects at the Mission Viejo  and Rancho Cucamonga Libraries in Southern California that will give me lots of learning to report on. Mission Viejo is home to Little eLit Think Tankers Genesis Hansen and Allison Tran, and Rancho is a 2013 IMLS Medal Winner.

Drs. Marianne Martens and Virginia Walter will be helping to provide some badly needed library-based research around the issue of children, technology and libraries. The amazing and inspiring Suzanne Flint at the California State Library will be wrangling us all, and Sam Eddington (incoming chair of the ALSC Education Committee) will be helping to facilitate the discussions.

A to Zoo for Apps Conversation Starter Video Uploaded

A special thanks to everyone who came to our A to Zoo for Apps Conversation Starter at ALA in Chicago last weekend! Here’s the video of what transpired for those of you who were unable to make it. We have some next steps in the works with the Erikson Institute and ALSC (and eventually, we hope, the Fred Rogers Center), but nothing I can report on officially yet. Stay tuned, folks. If Little eLit has anything to do with it, this is going to be an unprecedented collaboration, the likes of which has not yet been seen in libraryland. More to come!

Make some Noise! @LittleeLit presenting at CLA conference #CLAnoise


I have a LOT of presentations to prepare for! Looks like Genesis and I had a few proposals accepted at the California Library Association’s Annual Conference in Long Beach, CA, plus I’ll be doing some other work with the State Library while we’re there.

Here’s what and when:

Stand Out and Be Outstanding: Fearlessly Leading Your Library Career (November 4, 2013 at 10:15am)
Presenter names and affiliations: Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, Yemila Alvarez, San Francisco Public Library, Martha Camacho,Pasadena Public Library, Cen Campbell,, Dolly Goyal, San Mateo County Library, Genesis Hansen, Mission Viejo Public Library, Patrick “PC” Sweeney, San Mateo County Library

Children’s Services in the Digital Age: Technology Competencies (November 4, 2013 at 4:00pm)
Presenter names and affiliations: Cen Campbell, Children’s Librarian,, Elizabeth Gray, Yolo County Library, Genesis Hansen, Mission Viejo Public Library

Make Some Noise with High-Tech Services for Kids and Teens (November 5, 2013 at 11:45am)
Presenter names and affiliations: Cen Campbell,, Katrina Bergen, Dixon Public Library, Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Public Library