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Apps for Early Literacy

Librarians have been giving advice about how to make choices in the media market forever!  Books, music, movies... Apps are simply the newest form of media to hit the market, and for families that are choosing to use apps with their kids, the options can be very overwhelming and confusing (so many apps make educational claims!).

app of the week
Librarian- and kid-approved app recommendations for families with young children! 
Here are some of our best recommendations for great apps to use with your young children. Each recommendation has an age range, a little more information, related recommendations, AND has been tested and loved by SCFPL staff!
APP OF THE WEEK FROM THE SCFPL (PDF)

Quick links to our favorite book and toy apps for iOS, Kindle, or on the Google Play Store: (Updated 12/29/2015)

ASL Kids

DipDap

Endless Apps

Loopimal

Spot

Toca Salon (We think you'll love every Toca app you try!!!)

Fiete Match

Red in Bed

Our Advice to You About Technology and the 2+ Crowd

Just because an app says it’s “educational” or “interactive” doesn’t make it automatically high quality. There are thousands of apps that want to teach colors, letters, shapes and numbers. Instead, think about these 10 questions:

1. If it were a book, would you want to share it with your child?  (Do you like the plot? The illustrations? The characters? The author’s writing style?)
2. Is the app well-designed or is it cluttered and full of distractions?  Do the interactive elements move the plot forward, add subtle enhancement or interrupt the flow of the story?
3. Does this app help to build relationships, or cause barriers?
4. Is the app fun to play with?
5. Does it encourage creativity or open-ended play? (not every app needs to do this, but (for instance) try to choose free-drawing apps instead of “coloring books.”)
6. Is it age appropriate?
7. If it is challenging, does it engage your child without frustrating them?
8. Can your child navigate the app intuitively?
9. Do the settings allow you to turn off music, narration, etc. to customize your experience?
10. Are there any in-app purchases and if so, are they behind appropriate “baby-gates?”

In General:
Avoid apps with ads or with unguarded links to social media or apps in which the primary mission is to gather points or coins in order to unlock more features.
Avoid background television or distractions that make it hard for you and your child to concentrate on getting the best experience possible with the technology.
Seek out apps that allow you to engage in the 5 early literacy practices: Read, Write, Talk, Sing, and Play TOGETHER!

Learn more about choosing apps to use with your child by checking out this amazing, up-to-date tool from Carissa Christner at the Madison Public Library. Use the site to find free and paid apps that are appropriate, fun, and safe for young children, and discover new ways to play and to share stories together! Remember: Apps are always best used by both parents and children playing together!
LEARN MORE ABOUT APPS FOR EARLY LITERACY FROM CARISSA AT THE MADISON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Download an awesome e-resource about using apps with your child from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Street Workshop! (We love this ebook at the SCFPL-- try it on a tablet!)
FAMILY TIME WITH APPS: A GUIDE TO USING APPS WITH YOUR KIDS

Other children's media review sites to try (and great places to discover new apps!):
The iMums

Best Apps for Kids

Kindertown App

Digital Storytime

AppStarPicks

Common Sense Media