Blog Archives

LittleeLit at PLA: Every Child Ready to Read 2.0

I’ve just gotten confirmation that I’ll be presenting about Every Child Ready to Read at PLA in Indianapolis; first at the preconference and then later at a session. Here are the descriptions:

ECRR 2.0 – Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs Session (Date/Time TBA):

Parents and librarians want to know how to safely integrate apps and e-books into their lives without feeling guilty.
Join Cen Campbell as she shares why apps are useful, successful and should be incorporated into collections & programming, how to model healthy media behavior,and what is the current research on the effects of digital media on children.

Objective 1:
understand how apps/e-books can be appropriately integrated with Every Child Ready to Read 2.0

Objective 2:
be able to find age/developmentally appropriate apps and digital media for use in early learning

Objective 3:
be able to model healthy behavior in early learning programming and talk with parents and care givers about using apps/e-books

Every Child Ready to Read Implementation and Early Learning Environments Preconference (Date/Time TBA):
You are invited to ponder and discuss your knowledge base and goals for ECRR. This two-part workshop is designed to increase your understanding of ECRR. The morning session will demonstrate the many ways ECRR is being used across the country. The afternoon will help you discover the unlimited potential for creating a dynamic early learning environment in your library, no matter your space size or budget. Please join us for one or both sessions!

Objective 1:
Participants will explore at least three effective ways to implement ECRR.

Objective 2:
Participants will identify at least five activities that parents can effectively learn in a workshop to apply right away with their children.

Objective 3:
Participants will learn at least three easy yet innovative methods for transforming library space into a dynamic place for children to play and learn.

Preconference Outline:
Tentative outline Explore How to Implement ECRR in the Morning – we’ll pause for Q&A throughout the session:
1. ECRR workshop run-through – 45 minutes – five practicing librarians demonstrate an ECRR workshop – each taking a piece and showing different styles of presentation
2. Participants will be led in one or two hands-on activities in order to teach parents the activities in a workshop to be able to apply them right away with their children – 15 minutes – Dianne Black takes lead
3. What are the foundational early literacy skills and practices all librarians can benefit knowing – 15 minutes – Judy Nelson takes lead
4. Taking ECRR on the road to community partners – 15 minutes – Mary Seratt takes lead
5. Participants will be led in one or two more hands-on activities – 15 minutes – Dianne Black takes lead
6. How to apply ECRR in small groups of families on the library floor – 15 minutes – Cindy Christin takes lead
7. Training volunteers to present ECRR outreach programs in low-income neighborhoods – 15 minutes – Wendy Resnik takes lead
8. Tips on training adults – 15 minutes – all panelists give one or two tips
9. Cen Campbell – Early Literacy in the Digital Age – 10 minutes – a quick overview and promotion of upcoming ECRR program at this conference called ECRR 2.0: Using Apps and eBooks in Early Literacy Programs
9. Dr. Reid Lyon – will give an overview of where libraries started in the 1990s and how far we’ve come in promoting early learning, participants can Q&A with Dr. Lyon – 20 minutes
If Dr. Lyon is unavailable, times will be adjusted.

Tentative outline Discover New Ideas about Early Learning Environments in the Afternoon – we’ll pause for Q&A throughout the session:
1. Blocks and Play – an easy way to effectively and dramatically change your environment – 40 minutes – Susan Anderson-Newham & Cindy Christin takes lead
2. Color, style, and beauty in fun pre-literacy interactives – 30 minutes – Christy Estrovitz takes lead
3. Discussion activity – thinking about your ideal environment – 20 minutes – Dorothy Stoltz leads activity
4. How to transform your children’s space by easily incorporating the five ECRR practices and practical parent tips into your environment – 30 minutes – Amanda Ellington takes lead
5. Harnessing your ideal –– within your financial means and space dimensions – how to change your spaces into wondrous places and simultaneously respond to community needs. – 30 minutes – Marisa Conner takes lead
6. Discussion activity – developing next steps to reach your ideal environment – 30 minutes – Dorothy Stoltz leads activity


Mobile Media, Early Literacy & Digital Storytelling (MGOL2.0/ECRR2.0) at Internet Librarian

intlibOh look! Another conference! Betsy and I are presenting, and I think we’ll have some REALLY cool things to show off by the time October rolls around. Come join us at Internet Librarian in Monterey!

Mobile Media, Early Literacy & Digital Storytelling

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013, 1:30 PST

Cen Campbell, Chidlren’s Digital Services Consultant/Children’s Librarian,
Betsy Diamant-Cohen, Executive Director, Mother Goose on the Loose

This session focuses on using mobile media in traditional early literacy programming with specific examples from Mother Goose on the Loose (MGOL) and Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ECRR2), early literacy programming initiatives that educate and empower parents to support and develop their children’s early literacy development. The next generation of these landmark storytelling frameworks, MGOL 2.0 & ECRR2.0, capitalize on parent education to model positive media behaviors and enforce the concept of joint media engagement as more and more families begin accessing children’s books through mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. Speakers present Apps and eBooks right alongside paper books, and develop resources for parents to provide guidance for age appropriate and high quality digital media interactions for young children.

I made a mistake in my webinar and I can’t do take-backsies, but I can expand the issue a little here.

CLA-springfling-logo.2012I participated in a CLA Spring Fling webinar last week with the fabulous Eva Mitnick (LAPL) and the forward-thinking Elaine Meyers. The webinar was entitled Every Child Reading to Read 2 in Action; Eva talked about implementing ECRR2 at LAPL, Elaine discussed space, and my part was how ECRR2 now includes digital media.

At the end of my session someone asked if it would be appropriate to use an iPad when visiting preschools, and I said that since what we want to do most of all is model for parents and caregivers the best use of media with young children, perhaps we shouldn’t whip out the iPad at every preschool visit. (Not the exact wording, and when the archived version comes out I’ll go back and check). I cringe even admitting that I said that. Preschools teachers are caregivers! We need to be modeling for THEM how to use high quality children’s media with young children, though, to be honest, early childhood educators and their governing organizations are far ahead of libraryland when it comes to the theory, research and official stance taking on the use of digital media with young children. We need to be partnering more with early childhood educators (ie and not attacking them, like the shameful exchange that took place on the ALSC blog recently).

I do think that if you’re considering bringing an iPad with you to a preschool/school visit, you should communicate with the administration/teachers beforehand, because some schools DO have a very strict no-screen policy (like my son’s preschool!) I think I must have been wearing my mom hat and not my librarian hat when I responded to this question. I wish I could contact everyone who attended the webinar and further expand this conversation, but the best I can do is explain myself here, offer what the correct response should have been, and learn from this experience.

I don’t think that the use of an technology in storytime is always appropriate (like I wrote about here); we must alway use the best tools for the job. Sometimes an iPad is appropriate, sometimes it isn’t. Our job is to develop in ourselves the competencies to discern when and how to use which tools, and to communicate to our communities (families, caregivers, preschool teachers, administrators and other community stakeholders) the reasoning behind our inclusion or exclusion of technology in early literacy programs.


Nanos Gigantum Humeris Insidentes

givingneumanI’ve been doing a lot of research recently on the use of media with young children. I have a number of webinars and presentations coming up and I want to be as prepared as possible. Today I had two big epiphanies:

1) I know that I know nothing

2) What I have been advocating (intelligent use of technology with young children) is not a new concept

A book that has really hit me in the gut is Susan B. Neuman and Donna C. Celano’s Giving our Children a Fighting Chance: Poverty, Literacy and the Development of Information Capital. This book details a study that was undertaken from 1999-2009 in two neighborhoods in the greater Philadelphia area. One neighborhood is very affluent, one is very poor. This book is heartbreaking, and I have begun to see an entirely new value in the use of technology with young children in libraries. I have heard of the app gap, obviously, but it had never felt as visceral as Neuman and Celano have portrayed it. Neuman has been studying this for years, and has been an outspoken challenger of the “screen time is bad” notion; she wrote Literacy in the Television Age: The Myth of the TV Effect in 1991 and updated it in the second edition in 1995. She and Celano were also the ones who evaluated ECRR in 2010.

The word “engagement” keeps coming up over and over in my reading; the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading talks about Parent Engagement, conversations with friends (“I talked about apps with my wife; she now uses them with our son. We know now that it’s ok as long as we do it WITH him”), Neuman and Celano’s Book, and the 800 pound gorilla, Every Child Ready to Read 2.

The work that I’m concentrating on right now uses ECRR2 as a framework for incorporating digital media into storytime. When I first began doing this, it was mainly intuition and habit; probably because the library system that I was trained in to do storytime made ECRR (the first edition) available to me, and we used the 6 early literacy skills in every one of our programs. (Stanislaus County, I maintain to this day, employs some of the finest storytellers and children’s librarians I have ever known, even in the middle of California’s perpetually economically depressed central valley). I feel comfortable using an ECRR2-inspired format to run my programs, so that’s where I started. The more I read, however, the more I understand what a great framework it is. That said; ECRR2 is just a set of tools, and you need to use tools the right way for them to be effective. I have heard varying opinions of ECRR2; it can be implemented very well, it can be implemented very badly, “why are we modeling out programs to get kids ready for an educational system that is completely failing?!”, “who the hell are THEY to tell me how to lead my storytime?” etc.

But the more I learn about ECRR2, the more I think it’s the ideal tool for children’s librarians to use to A) get THEMSELVES used to the idea of omnipresent technology in children’s services and B) to guide parents through establishing good media habits and being able to recognize good content.

ECRR2 is designed to help parents/caregivers to become their child’s first teachers and support their young child’s early literacy development. It comes as a surprise to many of us graduate-degree laden folks that not every parent has the resources, experience, modeling, or support to do that instinctively. Adding the motivational power of technology to this framework plus giving parents high quality options for media consumption may not just have an impact on individual children’s literacy; it could have a positive impact on our society as a whole.

Now I see that one of the giants of children’s literacy research (Neuman) is in FAVOR of using technology with young children, I am even more convinced that ECRR2.0 (as I loving refer to ECRR + technology) will be the tool that brings our profession to the forefront for the evaluation, curation and implementation of interactive children’s media in early literacy programming.

nanos gigantum humeris insidentes: We are standing on the shoulders of giants.

From Giving our Children a Fighting Chance (pages 74-75, emphasis is mine):

Early Reading skills, particularly the first part of the reading equation- phonological awareness (rhyming, alliteration, segmenting and blending) and letter name knowledge- are especially well-suited to the mastery learning capabilities of the computer. With adult supervision, computer programs, specially orchestrated to drill and practice these skills, can make the work like play, in a manner that builds both speed and fluency. Consequently, what would ordinarily be a centerpiece in kindergarten is now in the hands of a miraculous machine and an authoritative parent who is guiding his or her child at age 3.

When you take the drudgery part out of the reading process- learning the basic decoding skills- and make them automatic, you provide working memory capacity to do other things, such as thinking about what you read in the text. This is the fun part of the reading process because it allows you to learn and develop knowledge that will be critical for the second part of the reading equation- comprehension. In some respect, then, the sooner a child can learn the nuts and bolts of reading, the sooner he or she can begin to build a knowledge base and become an independent learner- and the sooner, too, that the child can build the conceptual base that will be critical for the development of information capital.

Before this time of independence, however, children will need adult assistance in learning about reading and learning to read. In this environment in which the playing field is somewhat level [the library], our observations made plain the centrality of adult scaffolding- even with these so-called self-teaching programs. There was a power dynamic that differed across settings [affluent neighborhood library & impoverished neighborhood library]. In one setting, the power seemed to be held by the parent, who manipulated the tools to their children’s learning advantage. In the other setting, the power balance seemed to favor the tool, with the parent deferring to its will, and allowing the child to take ownership. This relationship seemed to hold true regardless of whether the tool was a book or a computer.

Grow a Reader

growareaderThe librarysphere has been all abuzz with the launch of the Calgary Public Library’s Grow a Reader app, which is based around Every Child Ready to Read 2. I downloaded the app today and took a spin through it; it’s a good one.

I’m not sure about the book recommendation feature, though; it kicks you out of the app and into their catalogue, when I was expecting to actually read a book within the app. The “recommend a book” feature is one that’s central to our profession, of course, and the developers couldn’t have included the books in the app unless A) they’d developed a platform in which to read the book and B) they had the license to do so. Still, I’m not sure why that feature had such prominence since it could really only be used by people with a Calgary Public Library card, and I think this app will be downloaded in many more places than just in the greater Calgary area (which is where my hubby hails from, by the by!)

The videos are well produced (though there are some funny angles and edits), and the tips are great. The video sections (fingerplays, tickles etc) seem to lend itself well to child navigation and there are real kids in the tickle section! (uber cute)

I think I might use this app in my storytimes; this’ll be a great tool both for librarians to learn how to deliver parent education tidbits, and for parents to learn new songs etc to sing with their children.


Every Child Ready to Read in the Digital Age

CLA-springfling-logo.2012I’m going to be presenting a webinar  with Eva Mitnick and Elaine Meyers for the California Library Association’s Spring Fling. My part of the panel will focus on incorporating apps and eBooks into ECRR programs. Looks like there might be some scholarships available to attend; check it out!

Every Child Reading to Read 2 in Action

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Noon-1:30pm PDT

Presenters: Cen Campbell, Children’s Librarian, Santa Clara County Library District; Elaine Meyers, Consultant; Eva Mitnick, Coordinator of Children’s Services, Los Angeles Public Library.

This workshop will provide participants with an introduction to the Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ECRR2) initiative and a guide to implementing it successfully in your library. Presenters will focus on staff training, community outreach, incorporating digital media in ECRR2, creating literacy spaces, and making the best use of ECRR2 materials. The webinar is presented by CLA’s Youth Services Interest Group.

About the presenters

Cen Campbell is a children’s librarian at the Santa Clara County Library District and the Mountain View Public Library, and a children’s digital services consultant at She has driven a bookmobile, managed branch libraries, developed innovative programs for babies, young children and teens, and now helps other libraries incorporate digital media into their early literacy programming. She attended the California State Library’s Eureka Leadership Institute in 2008 and now serves on the ALSC Children & Technology committee.

Elaine Meyers worked for over thirty years in public library administration and program coordination. Her primary responsibilities included youth services, programming, community partnerships, evaluation, staff development and training. Elaine is currently consulting with national organizations, state libraries, and a variety of public libraries and non-profits. She is a member of the Aurora Free Library Library Board and volunteer grant writer for the Aurora Free Library and Hazard Library in Cayuga County NY.

Eva Mitnick is Coordinator of Children’s Services at the Los Angeles Public Library, where she has worked since 1987. She has served on several CLA and ALA committees and is also an adjunct professor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, teaching courses on library services to children. During 2011 and 2012, the Los Angeles Public Library conducted the first formal review of the implementation of ECRR2 in a project spearheaded by Mitnick.