The following article originally appeared in theday.com.
By Marianne Sullivan – Shore Publishing
Scranton Library Children’s Librarian Jane Ash attended a workshop in the spring introducing programs that combined technology, learning, and pre-schoolers. She was so excited by what she saw, Ash didn’t wait until she returned to the library to make her pitch to Library Director Beth Crowley-she called during the workshop lunch break.
Introducing the library’s new program from three year-olds, “I Read, I Sing, I Learn, iPad Storytime.” The first session was Sept. 18 a in the library’s community room. There were three year-olds, moms, a dad, one little brother, and iPads.
Ash explained, “We are not giving up books. This program will always involve a book, but we will also be using iPads. Early literary skills now involve the use of technology. The superintendent of schools has said that iPads will be introduced soon in kindergarten. They are becoming an early learning and early reading tool.”
Miss Jane, as Ash is known among Madison’s youngest library users, began the hour with a song and some finger calisthenics and then introduced the book Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. As each child “read” the book and turned the pages along with Ash, each patted a soft bunny or rubbed daddy’s scratchy face or saw themselves in a mirror. Ash said the book, which introduces tactile responses, was revolutionary in its time. Some of the same responses will be repeated shortly on the iPad; some will not.
Through a generous donation from the Madison Foundation and with matching dollars from Lenny & Joe’s Restaurant and Friends of Scranton Library, the library purchased 10 iPads and shock-resistant covers with easy to grasp handles.
These three year-olds have seen iPads before, which surprises no one, and they begin to navigate their way through the program selected by Ash. The program is Pat the Bunny. By moving their fingers across the screens, the children are able to water the garden flowers, color illustrations, sled down a snow-covered hill, and, through the iPad’s camera, see themselves in a mirror.
“We made the decision to wait until the age of three before introducing the technology. We believe it is best for children younger than three to use their senses to begin to learn,” Ash said.
The three year-olds are racing ahead of Miss Jane as their fingers move across the screens.
“The use of technology will become an early literacy skill for children. We need to prepare them, just as we do in reading. Every child needs this exposure. In Madison many do [have this exposure at home], but some may not. They can come here. We have the iPads and other technology and our programs, and it is all free,” Ash said.
The library staff previews all programs and applications before any are selected for use. Parents may still register their children for this new class by contacting the library’s Children’s Department.