A pig playing an iPad piano was the last thing I expected to see at the Association of Small and Rural Libraries (ASRL) annual conference in Tacoma, Washington. Okay, it was just a pig puppet named Bacon, but still! Jeffrey Stoffer, library assistant at the Ak-Chin Indian Community Library in Maricopa, Arizona, showed just how creative one can get in the library with a tablet full o' apps. Luckily for us, Jeffrey shared his entire ARSL presentation (warning: large PDF file). This blog post just covers the reading and story time apps, but Jeffrey also talked about social media, writing, creativity, gaming, and problem solving apps for kids.
One thing to note is that Jeffrey's presentation focused on iOS apps. Some of these apps might be available on Android and Windows platforms, or there might be similar types of apps on other platforms.
What to Know Before You Download
Before we dive into the actual apps themselves, let's talk about where one might find free iOS apps (beyond the App Store, of course!). Here are the sites Jeffrey recommended:
When searching for a library app, you should take note of how large the app is. Some apps might take up a good majority of the storage on your iPad! Many apps have free or premium versions. And in many cases, the difference between those versions is advertisements. If you don't want some obnoxious ad interrupting your story time, you might consider splurging the extra few dollars for the premium version. Finally, apps have been known to completely disappear from the App Store. Remember Flappy Bird? Be aware that can happen.
Story Time Enhancers
One of the easiest ways to make story time interactive is through music apps. Jeffrey recommends Fingertip Maestro, Traktor DJ, Futulele, and Accordeon. You can have a puppet play the music, like Jeffrey does with Bacon, or you could ask one of kids to assist with the iPad.
Jeffrey also recommended an app called Educreations Interactive Whiteboard, which functions exactly how you'd imagine: as a virtual whiteboard. But unlike a physical whiteboard, you can record the drawings and notes you make on it.
You can also download collections of picture books on the iPad, such as the Dr. Seuss Collection. These books aren't simply digital versions of the originals. The books encourage children to practice their literacy skills with different ways to follow along or read. You can also tap on words and learn what they mean.
While there are many reading programs out there, Jeffrey has a few favorites for elementary and middle school-aged children. More than an e-comic book, Comixology is the comic app of all comic apps, according to Jeffrey. For readers who might need a little assistance, Comixology has a feature called Guided View that lets you easily scan, zoom, and flip pages. Jeff also recommended Madefire, which he thinks is the app for interactive comics.
Raz Kids is an e-book collection app aimed at readers between preschool and fifth grade. One of the highlights of Jeffrey's presentation was seeing kids reading books from this app with the library's resident therapy dog, a corgi named Buddy.
Another cool program at the Ak-Chin Library is a "read in the dark" event using the app Patrick Carmen's 3:15, which is a collection of scary stories. The "3" in 3:15 is the number of ways a story is presented: first you listen, then you read, and finally you watch a short video at the end. The "15" stands for how long the story lasts — 15 minutes.
Do you use apps for reading programs or story time? Which apps do you use? Tell us in the comments below.
Image 1: Kathy Cassidy / CC: BY
Images 2-4 : Apple App Store