Tiny Techies and Storytime

After a recent conversation with a colleague about children and technology, I started thinking more about how technology might be incorporated into our storytimes in a useful way. Not just tech for tech’s sake, but as a tool to further our mission. Lucky for me other people are also looking at this, trying out various ideas, and posting about their outcomes. Thanks internet!

I love how Kendra at Read Sing Play explained her decision to get “brave” and introduce some technology into her toddler storytime:

“We KNOW parents are letting their one year olds watch TV and play with their iPads. They will expose their kids to screens. Why not give them tips for using their media tools appropriately with their children? We do this with books already.”

With this in mind, Kendra then planned her storytime and shared her outcomes and responses. A few things I liked and want to remember for later: I like that she just uses one e-book and then continues with a normal storytime program, I like having the book up on the ‘big screen’ which allows greater visibility for larger groups than a hand-held book, and I like that she uses her library’s TumbleBooks thereby giving a demonstration and new access point to a resource people might not be using.

Another idea that I really love was the way that Anne uses iPad apps in her storytimes much like she would a puppet or flannel board. There are some great apps out there that can be used to this end, such as the Peekaboo HD app that plays an animal noise, you have the children guess the animal, and then it shows the animal and their name. The key here is to model how caregivers can use apps in their interactions with their children to build literacy skills (have some e-books ready to go for waiting rooms, etc.) or encourage imaginative play.

Speaking of apps for our devices, I absolutely LOVE Calgary Public Library’s Grow a Reader app!!! Think about how often people spend on their smart phones or other mobile devices. If we then think about how we can best serve and outreach to our customers and go where they are, then developing an app is a brilliant extension of our services. This app features library staff demonstrating various songs, finger plays, and rhymes and has book lists with direct links to their catalog. Great tips for caregivers and really well designed for ease and use.

iPads in Storytime: Skokie Public Library Primary Time+

The last resource I’ll mention today is Little eLit. I found this through an advertisement for a recent PLA webinar: Early Literacy Programming in the Digital Age: Apps and eBooks in Storytime! (slides are now up for free, yay!) Great resources here for designing storytimes, outlines and tips, and the work being done to make connections to our existing programs such as Every Child Ready to Read and Mother Goose on the Loose. Frequently updated with articles and other ideas and lots of good comments to start and continue the conversation on children, technology, and libraries.

Many libraries have started lending technology to our patrons, but we haven’t necessarily started incorporating it into our services. As technology becomes more integrated in our schools as well as our everyday lives, here is another way that we can further our mission and help prepare our children. I’m looking forward to incorporating some technology into parts of my services and seeing what will work best for my audiences.


Thank You Memes-

You provide endless sources for inspiration and activities to have fun with!

Take the Harlem Shake phenomenon. I love seeing folks I have connections with spin their own take on a particular meme. 

I have loved the various Shakes I’ve seen come from fellow Ukraine volunteers, their classes,  and different community groups. This is one of my favorites. Libraries have done some great ones too!

Mostly I’m thinking of funny internet memes here, but I love the abstract idea of a meme and thinking about what ideas and behaviors we transmit to other people in our culture. How can we use this idea consciously? How can we transmit an idea or a particular behavior that we are passionate about?

And have fun with it! Capitalizing on what people are currently interested in is a great way to promote our important projects! Literacy! Take this awesome version of Gangnam Style to promote a read-a-thon:

The internet is agog with ideas and inspiration for easy ways to promote our passions. How about those flippant e-cards that float around the various social media websites? While someecardsterms of service prohibits advertising, promoting websites, and the like, it’s a cakewalk to create your own images for use.

  • I really like Open Clip Art Library for clipart with no restrictions
  • Set up your image in your photo-editing software, select the inverse space your image (I love the magnetic lasso for this!), and fill it in with a solid color of your choice
  • Add your text using the Gill Sans font
  • Boom, you’re done!

Not too shabby for 5 minutes in Photoshop!

Recently, A friend just posted a link to this current meme among Japanese youth where they take photos that appear to be releasing a huge ball of energy that sends their friends flying. Think jumping photos with a story. Here’s one of many examples:

Power level? It’s over 9,000!

Put a superhero with a book in their hands for the “power of reading” or maybe the gals would get behind “knowledge is drop-dead gorgeous”. I can just imagine bringing this meme to a tween or teen group to see what cool photos and captions they’d come up with for our libraries!

Memes don’t have to be just for youth services. Bacon brings in the adults. Zombies are good for both our older youth (zombie prom!) as well as adult audiences. Or host an event for both like a zombie walk or stage a “lock-in” and test survival skills for the zombie apocalypse! The only limit is your imagination…

If your social media feeds aren’t sparking your creative juices, head over to Know Your Meme and get the scoop on the latest around the internet as well as history on memes of yore. What’s inspiring you these days?

People and Poetry


“Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” from T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

One of my favorite things about getting American Libraries magazine over the years has been the superb posters for National Poetry Month. Great inspiration during my Peace Corps service, and fabulous conversation starters when people came over.

Having this month-long reminder reinvigorates my own reading into poetry. Like I’ll get inspired to go on what I call a “poetry cleanse” where I read a little bit of poetry each morning to start my day and, hopefully, get me to look around me with different eyes.

A recent John Green vblog succinctly sums up my thoughts, “that poetry is about trying to get us to pay attention.”

And sometimes we’re so busy that we forget to pay attention and think about things. Where is the poetry in our lives? What makes us pay attention?

I love bringing more awareness and appreciation to this oft passed-over form. It’s a great subject that works well across children’s, young adults, and adults service departments.

The poetry in children’s books is what initially brought me to youth services. That and wonderful colleague and mentor.

During a particularly harried day behind the circulation desk, the children’s librarian came to relieve me for my break and suggested that I find a book from the children’s room for company. I looked at some of the front-faced books on top of our picture book shelves and stopped on Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall’s I’m In Charge of Celebrations.

A sample of Parnall’s incredible illustrations for another Baylor book “The Way to Start a Day.”

I fell in love with this book and was introduced to the idea of children’s books like bits of poetry, their distillation of life into pungent bits. In this particular book, the young girl shares her days of celebrations. These are not regular decreed holidays (New Years is the first day of Spring, not the first day of dreary January), but more along the lines of those extraordinary moments we happen across in our everyday lives. For instance, her Time of Falling Stars celebration was “every time a streak of light goes shooting through the darkness” and she could “feel my heart shoot out of me.” And the illustrations: vibrant beautiful swaths of desert colors with a touch of the surreal as rocks meld into people that flow into sky – poetry for the eyes!

I returned from my break rejuvenated and ready to look at the world in a different light. The children’s librarian and I spoke about the power of these books, and how children appreciate and interpret these stories to make meaning in their own lives. Needless to say I was hooked, and thus began an immensely rich professional relationship between the children’s librarian and me.

Back to poetry. But this did connect; did you see? Seek out these books that might not be “normal” poetry. Introduce (or re-introduce as it were) adults both young and old to the wonders of the poetry in children’s books. Try out activities that aren’t so focused on having a formal poem format, but engage in observation and comparison in the world around us. Or listen and read poetry on unexpected subjects (Scieszka’s Science Verse anyone? Hilarious!).

There are so many incredible places to get inspired for activities and programs related to poetry. Here’s a few more ideas:

  • Scholastic, as usual, has some great resources, ideas, formats, and printables.
  • Pinterest query for poetry yields tons of fun ideas – I love the gumball poetry dispenser!
  • Host a festival or poetry slam, or hold a contest with a celebration for the big reveal! Get schools and social clubs involved. My town holds an annual haiku festival (I even got a honorable mention one year!) and it’s a wonderful time.

As Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet simply suggests on this year’s poster:

“Write about your sorrows, you wishes, your passing thoughts, your belief in anything beautiful.” 

Pay attention to life around you. Your heart will know what to do.