The Summer Reading Program is in full swing here in Mount Prospect, Illinois, and with that comes patron questions about books, movies, programs, and more. In the past year, there have also been more questions about selecting appropriate and interesting apps for children. After discussing the need to address media mentorship in a more direct approach than what we were currently doing, it was decided this summer to start giving patrons a take home at the end of storytime that includes a “Digital Lit Tip.” Our summer storytimes are open to the public and can have children of various ages. Very young children must have a parent with them. In order to make these tips accessible to all patrons, even those who don’t have access to devices at home, we selected apps that were already reviewed and featured on our iPads in the department. We also plan to post the “Digital Lit Tip” near our iPads too.
In order to make this work with our already established storytime, we looked at the apps we have loaded on our iPads as well as the theme of the planned weekly storytimes and their ECRR2 skill. Below are three of the apps we are using in our “Digital Lit Tips.”
This app is free for Apple mobile devices and is great when focusing on the singing literacy skill. The app allows you to create your own band, make you own rhythms and songs, and play with sounds in general. In a storytime that focuses on the literacy skill of singing, this is a great choice since it is also very easy to use. Parents and children will also be able to interact together with this app. They can make a band and try singing the silly song they created together. Once screen time is over, they can continue their musical interaction by reading books with songs in them or making crafts and musical instruments from things around their house.
While this app is not free ($1.99 for both Apple and Android devices), it’s a great app for learning through small motor skills. Patrons are required to act as bug heroes and work through challenges to help save the king. This app was selected for our sensory play literacy skill storytime and the theme is butterflies and bugs. Children like to learn about what interests them, and bugs are very interesting to kids. The app has many different types of bugs that patrons can choose to be in the challenge, and once they are done playing with this app, we recommend checking out books about bugs that they can share together to support their child’s bug interests. Along with this high interest topic, touch is one of the five senses that children learn through. Using the device allows a child to touch and manipulate a screen, which is a great digital literacy skill.
For our Mustaches and Hair storytime, we have to recommend the Toca Hair Salon 2 app. At $2.99 for Apple and Android devices, it’s a very entertaining app that allows patrons to run their hair salon while creating hair styles for their clients. The literacy skill for this storytime is writing, and this app is another that allows patrons to practice fine motor skills. The app requires users to swish their fingers around on the screen to make different hair styles. Sometimes, patrons need to be very exact so that cuts, curls, and coloring come out in the way they intended.
These “Digital Lit Tips” will start being used this summer in our stroytime sessions, and we are very excited to see the outcome. These apps are just a few suggestions and what we plan to use according to the ECRR2 skill and theme for the storytime. Try them out and see what you think.
Laura Bos is a Youth Technology Librarian at the Mount Prospect Public Library in Mount Prospect, IL, and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee.