But how do you choose quality material? And I’m not only talking about book apps and tech related things–I’m talking about hard copy materials too. I think that it is sometimes taken for granted that if it’s been printed, it’s quality.
I emphatically say that’s not the case. There are a lot of crummy books out there, both fiction and non fiction. I have read a fair share of them, and have read reviews for a lot of others. Sometimes it just makes you wonder…who OK-ed this?!
While I argue that format shouldn’t matter, I bet you are wondering what does matter. For that I say it’s all about the writing, the pictures (if there are any), developmentally appropriate content, the engagement factor, an opportunity for the reader to extend the reading experience beyond the text, and the way that the child interacts with the book itself.
When I say interaction, I don’t necessarily mean like an interactive picture book, or app for that matter. What I mean is, does the reader connect with what they are reading? Something as simple as is the reader enjoying him or herself?
The major media mentor’s over at Little eLit have been writing on this topic for a while now, and they are in the process of releasing their own book. They release a chapter every month or so. The most recent chapter deals with exactly what I’m advocating for–quality kid lit, in any and all formats. The authors of this chapter are Claudia Hines and Clarissa Kluver.
The chapter discusses, not only, some important criteria for hard copy format books, but also how that traditional criteria can be translated into book apps–and it is incredibly relevant. I know trying to navigate what makes a good book can be nerve-wracking, especially if you work in a children’s services position. I want to make sure that the materials I choose are the best possible for my patrons and the best available for the budgeted money. And the rubrics provided definitely make standardization possible.
I encourage you to take a look at the chapter on the evaluation of new media. It talks about story apps, toy apps, and other app criteria. What works, what doesn’t work, and what to look for. It is easy to read, extremely helpful, and informative. The authors, and myself for that matter, are not suggesting that new media be a replacement for traditional practices or formats. Rather, it should be used alongside print media to extend traditional ways of doing and learning. And, whether or not each person embraces this view point, there is a great digital shift going on…and turning a blind eye will not help anyone; least of all the individual and those who may be looking to them for information about how to navigate this new landscape.