Thursday, December 23, 2010

Keeping Up with the Growing Trends in Technology and Literacy

Wild About Books (Knopf
Books for Young Children,
2004) Written by Judy
Sierra and illustrated by
Marc Brown
      Although we hope that real books are always a part of our personal and educational lives, it is also savvy to be aware of the emerging technologies involved with the world of literacy.  Think about where technologies with cell phones were 10 years ago and what they can do now! Some of us can remember when sending one email was a big deal 15 years ago. In contrast, think how many pile up in your in box by noon on a daily basis. Personal computers were so much more basic 20 years ago, and the world is at your fingertips via the Internet today. Technology will be much more integrated in the literacy lives of the children we teach in the future, too. In the age of the more affordable Kindle and the color Nook, children's books are becoming more available in this format.  Apps, or applications, based on children's books are also being explored by the large publishing companies. I recently saw on Facebook that Random House was previewing its iPad app for the book Wild About Books, written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown (of the Arthur series fame.)  

     Earlier this week, author Donalyn Miller posted about an article Publishers Weekly has on their site called "Don't Write the Obit for the Picture Book Yet." The article is largely a response to a New York Times article published in October called "Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children."  In the PW article, the Association of Booksellers for Children executive director Kristen Mclean refers to children being "omnivorous," meaning that they consume and respond to reading in a variety of formats.

      PW has even recently started a weekly "Apps News" update about how publishing companies are testing the waters of apps for children's books. Here are some more recent articles from Publishers Weekly highlighting the current and developing technological trends in literacy.
Other explorations in the world of apps:
  • Random House will soon expand on Wild about Books by releasing apps for the books How Rocket Learned to Read and classic Pat the Bunny. 
  • ScrollMotion is an app creator which features apps from the series Curious George.
  • The children's book classic The Little Engine That Could is available as an app on the publisher Penguin Young Readers website.
  • Scholastic is delving into the world of apps with the popular 39 Clues Series, as well as the I Spy series, Clifford, and the PBS show Word Girl.  
  • Curious Puppy - E-Imprint of Harper Collins Children's Books - This site has published its first app based on a book. It's Freight Train, the classic early childhood picture book written and illustrated by Donald Crews. Upcoming apps are slated for other classics such as Goodnight Moon, The Giving Tree, and Where the Wild Things Are, as well as classic chapter books Charlotte's Web and Ramona Quimby.
  • Books from Dr. Seuss are brought to life from Oceanhouse Media. This company also very recently released a few apps from the Tacky the Penguin series, Miss Spider series and the Little Critter series.  
     It seems that classics and popular series are a staple in the emerging apps world. There is another facet that may be aimed at appealing to those children who love interacting with technology like video games. Children's picture books are a vital part of our reading lives. It's fascinating to see how technology will continue to compliment and promote literacy!


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