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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).