Blog Archives

Meeting with Fred Rogers, TEC Center at Erikson, ALSC, Children’s Technology Review, LittleeLit &


On October 3 & 4, 2013, a small group of individuals representing a few mighty organizations met at the Technology in Early Childhood Center at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL. The group (above) included Iara Fuenmayor (TEC Center),  Joanna Ison & Aimee Strittmatter (ALSC), Rita Catalano & Mike Robb (Fred Rogers Center), Carisa Kluver (, Cen Campbell (, Chip Donohue & Amanda Armstrong (TEC Center) and Warren Buckleitner (Children’s Technology Review, though Warren joined us remotely). The group got together to discuss an idea that we’ve been working on at LittleeLit for some time now; unified, wide-scale librarian involvement in the children’s digital publishing marketplace. Chip Donohue offered to facilitate our little convention after meeting with Carisa Kluver, Starr Latronica (ALSC President) & me at ALA Annual in Chicago right after the A to Zoo for Apps conversation starter, and during our 2 day meeting in October we discussed the need for children’s librarians to be much more actively involved in developing resources and programming that include new media.

Initially my plan was to develop a comprehensive app evaluation, curation and aggregation tool similar to A to Zoo but for digital media, but the emphasis of the project has shifted away from the tool and more toward the training. I do think there is a pressing need for a tool that is populated with data (and metadata!) by children’s librarians, but the development of a large piece of software with buy-in from many different parties seems to require more bandwidth than most of us can handle right now, and there are concerns that the marketplace is changing so quickly, and there are many other “recommendation” projects in existence, that the resources and time it would take to build a truly comprehensive tool may not pay off as well in the long run as the training. I’m working on ways to build the development of a tool into the training materials themselves, though, even if it makes use of existing tools or takes more time to build than we’d initially hoped.

The working title for the project is Access, Content & Engagement: Media Mentors @ Your Library and the vision for the project is as follows:

In every community library there will be a media mentor who develops early childhood programming that models the intentional, appropriate and healthy use of mobile technology with young children and recommends high quality, age-appropriate digital media as a part of normal reference & reader’s advisory services.

The plan right now is to go for an IMLS planning grant to expand on the work we’ve been doing through (like individual consulting projects and New Media in Storytime workshops), trainings with Carisa Kluver and the California State Library, as well as Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Mother Goose on the Loose. Through all of these projects we’ve been working toward the development of training resources, the training workshops themselves, and early literacy technology projects within public libraries. For the planning grant we’re seeking partners to both guide the development of the training tools, and partners to act as pilot sites.

The cast of characters who are lending their resources and guidance to this initiative is impressive, and I am humbled by the continued outlay of support for what we’re attempting to do. Not only are the aforementioned institutions lending themselves to the project in an advisory capacity, we also have representatives from the Every Child Ready to Read Oversight Committee, the New America Foundation (Lisa Guernsey, who put the “media mentor” idea in my head in the first place) and representatives from other State Libraries and library systems all around the continent offering their institutions and services.

I have a few months of heavy-duty grant writing ahead of me, but I have a whole team of experienced and enthusiastic people from libraryland and beyond who see the need for guidance in this area, and who realize the potential of the public library to provide that guidance to families and educators who are struggling with managing and using new media with their young charges. The project is still in its infancy and I am working on details about who is going to do what. All we know is that librarians are finally stepping up to fill a very big void, and if we get funded, we’re going to do it nationally.

Many thanks to everyone who joined us in Chicago, especially to Chip & Amanada, our gracious hosts. I look forward to future discussions, preferably where no one gets sick!


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