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?

Epic Meaning


Came across Jane McGonigal’s TedTalks “Gaming Can Make A Better World” in my Internet wanderings. McGonigal talks about the qualities that she sees in gaming that should be tapped:

  • Urgent  optimism – the desire to act immediately to tackle obstacles and the belief  that there is reasonable hope for success
  • Tight social fabric – the immediate bonds and trust that are developed between people all over the world to accomplish tasks together
  • Blissful social activity – the rewards/feel goods that come from leveling up, beating a boss, etc.
  • Epic meaning – this is created from the awe-inspiring worlds, story lines  and missions that occur in game worlds

She terms these people “Super Empowered Hopeful Individuals” and asks us to stretch our minds to a future that utilizes their virtuoso qualities to tackle real-world problems.

From McGonigal’s presentation:

“We don’t want to try and predict the future. What we want to do is make the future. We want to imagine the best-case scenario outcome and then we want to empower people to make that outcome a reality.

We want to imagine epic wins and then give people the means to achieve the epic win.”

Very creative and exciting ideas, and I feel that there is a lot here to explore and work with in terms of applications. Collaboration, creating inspiring goals to work towards, and providing meaningful feedback are some of the ideas we can think about with relation to gaming and libraries and gaming and teaching.

However, I agree with the post’s author Springer when he points out that McGonigal is glossing over the variety of skills that are developed based on the type of game played. The collaborative, social nature that McGonigal focuses on with games such as World of Warcraft are not the only types of games that people are playing. For example, while I have played various social games other the years, those are not my go-to games when I play. I look for games I can play individually and that do not continue in real-time when I am not playing because of personal time constraints and irregularity of play. But I game for awe-inspiring stories and love the epic meaning behind solving puzzles and questing!

Inspired as I am by McGonigal’s presentation, I hope that we can expand her vision a bit to include the power of individuals. Collaboration can encompass individual acts towards community goals. Perhaps I just missed this nuance in her presentation. I wanted to see more explicit acknowledgement of the range of skills developed and the variety of learning styles individuals bring to video game environments and their value in the real-world applications she was referencing. And when giving a short, general presentation I realize that might not be possible. However, I want to explore more, and I look forward to reading her book on the subject, “Reality Is Broken” and checking out the various games she mentioned.