Literacy Apps in the Library

This summer I read Jason Boog’s Born Reading: Bringing up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between. I have a strong interest in how our students read electronically and a passion for integrating new literacy platforms in my classroom. Through a series of anecdotes about raising a daughter in a technology-rich age, Boog identifies approaches parents can use to guide their children to become literate in a variety of ways. The author credits his advice on how to be a better parent to the vast experience and deep knowledge shared with him by librarians, authors, and publishers.

In my own practice as a teacher, I continually employ new literacy instruction techniques and technology in the library classroom. With my youngest students, I use a range of literacy apps. For example, during a unit in which my second graders compare multiple print versions of Little Red Riding Hood, the students engage in another reading experience with the Nosy Crow Little Red Riding Hood app. The app is a new take on the classic fairytale story with which users can create their own story by choosing from multiple paths along the way, resulting in different endings. Readers are active and engaged as they play games to help Little Red Riding Hood collect objects on her journey through the woods and defeat the Big Bad Wolf!

In a unit on bats, my Pre-K students use the app Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night. The students use the read-aloud feature to cover seven chapters that provide exciting journeys through the bats’ world. The app has annotated illustrations and an interactive echolocation demo that allows the children to “see” the sound waves the bats make with their screeches. This app is always a crowd pleaser. 

Boog’s book offers a few key takeaways that confirm my observations from the classroom. He stresses that parents need to provide an “interactive reading experience.” As someone who reads to and with children on a daily basis, I work diligently to build background knowledge before reading, and I engage in discussion and comprehension checks to deepen and solidify learning. The author also encourage parents to “think carefully about how early (and how often) to introduce devices.” The same philosophy can be applied to use of digital books in the library classroom. Technology poses many practical challenges, but the potential benefits of e-reading motivate me to keep offering the opportunity for our students to e-read. We also need to approach new modes of learning with an open mind: my own genuine engagement with my students using this technology is necessary for the technology to be a success.

After reading Boog’s book, I decided to use e-books with my three-year-old students to help them distinguish between print and digital formats. For example, I read David Stein’s Leaves and then shared an animated version of the book set to music. The students discussed what made the books different and which version they preferred. As we continue our classes this year, I am taking some of Jason Boog’s specific recommendations on apps to use with these students, including Toca Band and There’s No Place like Space: All About Our Solar System.  

I would love to hear about your success using literacy or book apps in the library! 

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