Babies need books–but do they need e-books?

If you’re like me you have some questions about how well the brave new e-world serves our youngest users. Are e-books good or bad for kids? How does reading an e-book change the experience of reading aloud to your child? What does it mean when babies and toddlers know how to use an i-pad? (Need proof?  Check out the video below of a baby who’s frustrated by the paper magazine that doesn’t respond to her pushing and pinching.)


I don’t have any answers, unfortunately, but I do have some ideas about where to look to get information on the topic.

One good resource is the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Like the umbrella organization, the Cooney Center is focused on innovative educational techniques. If there are ways to use current and emerging technologies to aid babies and children this is definitely the site that will be explaining and promoting them.

Don’t worry, though. The Cooney Center is also willing to be critical.  A recent study, cited in an article on Education Week’s Early Years blog compares how children and parents interact with e-books, print books and enhanced e-books.

No one will be surprised to know that the results are mixed.  For early literacy purposes, print books and simple e-books (those that exactly replicate the text and illustrations of the print version) seemed to work best. When it came to stimulating interest and motivating children, however, enhanced e-books (those that offer opportunities to interact with the device and include video, sound or other features), not surprisingly, had an edge.

Another reliable resource also has a connection to PBS—and one to Western Pennsylvania as well. Ele is a new project of the Fred Rogers Company. Designed to help parents and educators of young children, birth to age five, this site presents a variety of early literacy activities and also offers forums intended to promote communication among users.

Health professionals have also weighed in on these questions. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, encourages parents to strictly limit screen time for children two and younger. Not because the content, whether on television, e-reader or computer, is necessarily bad. Rather the issue is that time spent staring at a screen takes time away from interacting with another person—and that interaction has been consistently shown to be a much more effective way of learning.

Learning through conversation and communication isn’t just for kids, of course. So if you’ve found some bit (or byte) of information about this topic please share it in the comments. Screens and media are sure to remain omnipresent for the foreseeable future.  Let’s all do our best to make sure we use them wisely and well, especially with young learners and library users.


Coordinator of Children’s Collection


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Teacher Lesson Plans

Last Monday I did an electronic resources presentation for a group of college and high school students teaching summer enrichment programs.  Since many of them have never taught before they wanted to know where they might find lesson plans they could use.

I knew that some of our databases offered teacher lesson plans I couldn’t name them off the top of my head.  Thanks to a little bit of searching and help from my fellow librarians I was able to provide them with this list of Gale databases that offer lesson plans:

  • U.S. History in Context
  • World History in Context 
  • Science in Context 
  • Biography in Context 

The steps for finding the teacher lesson plans are the same in each database–

  • Click on the Resources tab above the rotating banner.
  • Under the Teachers heading you will see Access FREE Lesson Plans – Click Here

Do you know of any other county-wide databases where teachers can find lesson plans?

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Gale Databases “Listen” Option

One of the many valuable things that I learned in the EREC Database Training Sessions

is that most of the Gale databases that we have offer the “Listen” option, where you

can have the article read to you. . When you get to an article that you want to read you’ll see

Listen  below the title of the article and above its content:

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Dictionary of American History , 2003

Each word of the article will be highlighted as it is being read to you. Also,
you can limit what you want read to you to just an excerpt of the article.
If you use mouse to highlight and copy just the portion of the text that
you want read, only that portion will be read to you. The databases that offer
this option are:
Biography in Context
US History in Context
World History in Context
Literature Resource Center
Opposing Viewpoints in Context
Science in Context
The only Gale database that I found that doesn’t offer this option is
the Business and Company Resource Center.

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Gale In Context

ACLA currently subscribes to five of the Gale “In Context” databases. They are: Biography in Context, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Science in Context, U.S. History in Context, and World History in Context. Each database has some pretty amazing features, including:

  • Read Speaker text-to-speech technology–a great option for struggling readers and the visually impaired.
  • Document translation–translates any document into French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Portuguese, simplified Chinese, and Korean.
  • Customizable RSS feeds–allows information to be automatically delivered to users.
  • Media-rich content–images, audio, video, maps and interactive resources.
  • Web 2.0 sharing–allows linking through hundreds of popular social networks and bookmarking tools.
  • Citation tools mapped to the most current MLA and APA standards.
  • Fact boxes provide a snapshot summary of key information for quick review.
  • Interactive Google maps put research in an important geographical context.
  • Infomark functionality allows users to copy, bookmark, or email a persistent URL of nearly every page — giving them the ability to create and share reading lists, bibliographies, course packs and more.
  • Content Level Indicators and lexile scoring to find resources suited to different reading abilities.

Mary Lee Hart

Northland Public Library

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