This is my first post as Bookboard’s new children’s librarian. I thought I should introduce myself and recount the story of how I became involved with the Bookboard team. I run my own blog (LittleeLit.com) where my colleagues and I develop early literacy programs (storytimes) that incorporate high quality book-based and educational apps and eBooks. I saw an article about Bookboard through Digital Book World and I realized that they were just up the freeway from where I lived. I sent an email explaining my work with developing best practices for children’s librarians in using digital media with kids, and inquiring whether Bookboard be interested in speaking with me about potential future collaboration with public libraries and implications for digital storytelling. Fang, one of the co-founders, said “Sure! Come on over!” and we’ve been working together ever since (I’m helping to organize and tag the books; it’s traditional librarian work, except the books are digital!)
I signed up for the beta and immediately saw how well Bookboard’s clean layout, quick loading time, intuitive interface and book selection would lend themselves to a storytime setting. My storytime programs often feature stand-alone apps, as well as eBooks from various sources, as well as information slides with things like parent information, lyrics and “resources used” on them. I have now used Bookboard in a few storytimes, and I am happy to report that there are some really great singable, storytime-able books in the collection (like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, below). I hope to pilot a lot more “Bookboard Storytimes” around the Bay Area and beyond.
What really spoke to my librarian’s soul, however, was the enthusiasm with which the Bookboard team defends the integrity of books, and the book-sharing experience between a parent and child. “Books aren’t broken,” Fang said to me the first day we met, and I see how he consistently strives to improve Bookboard, and to create an intuitive, literacy-fostering experience that is not compromised by unnecessary interactivity, in-app purchases, long loading times or distracting animation. I’m not saying that animated books and interactive apps are inherently bad; they have their place, and I’m among the most progressive of my colleagues when it comes to using digital books with kids in a library setting.
The main reason that I’m so pleased to be working on this project is because Bookboard is designed to foster a high-quality, shared reading experience between parent and child. Even when the child is reading independently, the parent is still involved in the child’s reading activities through updates via email and the parent portal in the Bookboard app. A children’s librarian’s raison d’etre is very much the same; to foster the love of reading from an early age and to connect children and parents with books. I’ll be posting regularly with information and tips on supporting your child’s developing literacy skills, addressing “screen time” issues, offering resources for further reading and current research on literacy and media. Please feel free to comment below (or on any of my upcoming posts) with any questions you have about literacy, kids and technology!