FAQ: The Supper Club

What is the Supper Club?
The Supper Club is a monthly, evening app-based storytime for where families can eat their dinner while learning about the best apps on the market for kids and best practices for incorporating apps into a healthy family lifestyle.

Why talk about apps at the library?
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 educational claims!).

What are your favorite apps?
You can see a list of my favorite apps to recommend to families here. The list is growing all the time!

Where do you find new apps?

--kindertown (educational apps)

--digital-storytime.com (book apps)

--appsplayground.com (new releases)
-- www.zoobean.com/apps 

Where can I learn more about best practices for using apps with children?
These slideshares by librarian Emily Lloyd are fantastic:
iPad apps and your Pre-Reader
Apps and Babies
How true are our assumptions about screentime? by Lisa Guernsey (and for further reading, check out her book, Screentime)
Five Myths about Young Children and Screen Media
The Fred Rogers Center blog

How do I know if an app is good?

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 questions:

--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?)
--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?
--Does this app help to build relationships, or cause barriers?
--Is the app fun to play with?
--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.”)
--Is it age appropriate?
--If it is challenging, does it engage your child without frustrating them?
--Can your child navigate the app intuitively?
--Do the settings allow you to turn off music, narration, etc. to customize your experience?
--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.

--Seek out apps that allow you to engage in the 5 early literacy practices: Read, Write, Talk, Sing, and Play TOGETHER!

If you have further questions, feel free to e-mail me at: cchristner{at}madisonpubliclibrary.org

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