By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager
Tired of your child making off with your iPad, tablet or phone? Soon the library will have kids’ tablets available for check out, preloaded with fun and engaging learning apps for children as young as 3 years old. Playaway has come out with a new product called the Launchpad, a tablet created for libraries to circulate. While many tablets or devices for kids work fine at home, Launchpad touts durability and security as top qualities that make it possible for libraries to lend them out.
The library will eventually have 30 Launchpads available for check out this fall, each with a different theme and various apps for a target age group of 3-5 years, 5-7 years or 8-10 year olds. The state library has also acquired some Launchpads for a “floating collection” throughout the state, which will be available through interlibrary loan to all libraries in Kansas.
“Beep Beep, Vroom Vroom” is the theme for a Launchpad that will be available at Manhattan Public Library. It includes apps for ages 3-5 for learning letters and numbers, exploring colors and solving puzzles with games featuring cars, trucks and other vehicles. The “Little Picasso” tablet for ages 5-7 encourages imagination and creativity with artistic games and stories. For older kids, “Math Planet” will challenge their math skills as they explore the galaxy.
Science, reading, cooking, problem-solving and many other areas are covered in apps on different tablets, making each one unique and fun. You can place a request on a specific title if it is checked out. Take one home for a week and see what the kids can do!
Library account holders also have access to two excellent online learning and literacy databases for kids: BookFlix and TumbleBooks. Both resources are available through the library’s webpage with a valid library card number and password.
BookFlix is Scholastic’s read-along database with the wonderful Weston Woods video adaptations of popular children’s books. You can choose “read-along” mode so the words will show up along with the video, highlighting each word as it is read. They stay completely true to the storybooks, just enhancing the illustrations to create movement, and often well-known actors are the narrators. “All the World” is favorite picture book of mine, and Scanlon’s poetic text is heightened with narration by Joanne Woodward and the perfect background music touches. My kids’ favorite is Kate & Jim McMullan’s “I’m Dirty,” the muddy story of a busy backhoe, narrated by Steve Buscemi. Each of their high-quality videos is paired with a nonfiction book that relates to the topic. Kids can try out links to simple games related to story comprehension, a Meet the Author link, and more web pages that are approved by Scholastic.
TumbleBooks is similar to BookFlix and has been around for a while, with many of the local schools using it to enhance language arts and reading skill building. It also has created videos by animating picture books but still retaining the book-like quality of the stories. You can let the story play in read aloud mode, or adjust the pacing to “manual” so your child can choose when to “turn the pages,” or even mute the narration so your child can read the story on his or her own. Lots of popular titles are available including “Scaredy Squirrel,” “Mercy Watson” and all of Robert Munsch’s humorous stories narrated by the author. Longer chapter books are available for more advanced readers, including some classics such as “The Wind in the Willows.” The interactive features make these literacy databases enjoyable for parents and children to view and play together.