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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Apps, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. More on Assistive Technologies

I’ll confess, like many of you I collect apps. I have an old tablet devoted to nothing but “kid” apps. Finding information about a variety of book apps is relatively easy now that so many of us are using them and reviewing them. One question I am asked frequently is “Can you recommend any assistive technology apps?”

There are several that have caught my eye recently so I decided to give them a try. I was impressed with the continued growth and development of these types of applications. There are many people, both young and old that could benefit greatly from using these simple programs. All the apps mentioned are intuitive, easy to use, some have a nominal fee and others are free.

Kidspiration Maps is a kid friendly mind-mapping app for the iPad. Kidspiration is similar to the Inspiration Maps, but Kidspiration includes more kid friendly templates and clipart like graphics. Kidspiration allows users to create mind mapping webs to help organize ideas and information visually. Unlike Inspiration Maps, Kidspiration allows users to insert a large variety of clipart images into their maps. Kidspiration also includes the ability to add a recorded voice note; a feature that is unfortunately missing in Inspiration Maps.

Kidspiration Maps includes a large number of pre-loaded templates for reading and writing, social studies, science, and math. These templates are geared for elementary school children and range from an “all about me” web to sorting and matching activities. If no template is applicable there is an option to start a new document. One template contains a number of words and instructions to arrange the words into alphabetical order while another asks kids to match states to their capitals. With the nice visuals these activities can be engaging and easier than using physical manipulative. One drawback is when the student is completing the activities there is no way to program the correct responses in order to give the student immediate feedback. Also, when searching for clipart students cannot search for an image by keyword, but instead must scroll through long lists of images.

Bookshare is an essential service for people with print disabilities. Bookshare.org provides accessible e-books for qualified students. Members can choose from over 200,000 downloadable titles including many textbooks. Bookshare books can be downloaded in a DAISY format for use with text-to-speech software or in a Braille format. Similar to Kurzweil, the combination of text-to-speech and highlighted text can greatly speed up and reading and increase comprehension for qualifying students. Thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Education Bookshare is free to U.S. students.

 Learning Ally is another provider of accessible books for the blind and dyslexic.Learning Ally mostly provides human narrated audio books for their members. Learning Ally is also expanding to provide “VOICEtext” books which include human narration and highlighted text. The highlighting of “VOICEtext” books is not word by word like in Bookshare and Kurzweil but rather is paragraph by paragraph. Learning Ally books can be read on iOS and Android devices using the Learning Ally Audio app.

 Co:Writer by Don Johnston is an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Co:Writer has exceptional word predication capabilities that can help struggling spellers. Co:Writer’s most unique and noteworthy feature is the ability to use topic dictionaries to improve word prediction based on the topic a student is writing about. For example, if a student is writing about World War II he or she can turn on the World War II topic dictionary in order to get more targeted word prediction.

Prizmo is an optical character recognition (OCR) app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The app gives students the ability to take a picture of a text documents and have it read back to them using text-to-speech in seconds. So if a student comes across a document that they can’t read they can use Prizmo to quickly take a picture and have it read back to them. Prizmo can also act as a portable scanner that can convert printed document into a digital PDF format.

These were are just a few of the many assistive technology apps available. If you are using or recommending and other apps that fill this niche, send me an email and let me know: asantos@princetonlibray.org

Allison Santos

ALSC Digital Task Force

Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ

 

 

 

The post More on Assistive Technologies appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Fusenews: Starring the World’s Creepiest Cat in the Hat!

  • Here in New York we’re getting very excited.  The 90-Second Film Festival is coming!!  And soon too!  Here’s a PW interview with James Kennedy about the festival and for those of you in the NYC area you can see it at NYPL on Saturday, March 7th at 3:00 p.m. In fact, now that I think about it, you could begin your day at NYPL at 2:00 p.m. at my Children’s Literary Salon Blurred Lines?: Accuracy and Illustration in Nonfiction.  We’ll be hosting Mara Rockliff (author), Brian Floca (author/illustrator), Nicole Raymond (editor), and Sophie Blackall (illustrator/author) as they discuss the responsibility of an illustrator when working on a piece of historical nonfiction for kids and whether or not words garner closer scrutiny than pictures.  Should be a fabulous day.
  • We all know on some level that when a book is adapted into a movie the likelihood of the strong female characters staying strong is negligible.  There are always exceptions to the rule, but by and large it’s depressing not to be more shocked by the recent Cracked piece 6 Insulting Movie Adaptations of Strong Female Characters.  I was very pleased to see the inclusion of Violet from A Series of Unfortunate Events too.  Folks tend to forget about her.
  • At the beginning of February I had the infinite pleasure of hosting a Children’s Literary Salon at NYPL on Collaborating Couples.  I invited in Ted & Betsy Lewin, Andrea and Brian Pinkney, and Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.  You can read the PW round-up of the talk here, but before we hit the stage I had to ask Sean about this incident that occurred involving his book with Selina, The Case for Loving and W. Kamau Bell’s treatment at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café.  We didn’t touch on it during our talk since it wasn’t pertinent to this particular discussion, but if you haven’t read the article I suggest you give it a look.
  • If I’m going to be honest about it, this perfectly encapsulates what I’ve always personally felt about the Elephant and Piggie books.  This is because growing up I was the child that wanted everyone and everything in the universe to pair up.  Sesame Street fed this desire to a certain degree but the only time Mr. Rogers got close was during the opera episodes.  And don’t even get me STARTED on Reading Rainbow (no sexual tension = no interest for 4-year-old Betsy).  Hence my perverse desire to see Gerald and Piggie become a couple.  I know, I know.  Clearly I need help.
  • Moomins!  Ballet!  Moomins in ballet!  Sorry, do you need more than that?  Thanks to Marci for the link.
  • It’s fun to read this look at the Mary Poppins Hidden Relationships Fan Theory, but I’ve a bone to pick with it.  Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the book of Mary Poppins make it very clear that yes indeed Mary Poppins WAS Bert’s nanny back in the day?  Or am I just making stuff up?  I thought this was cannon.  That other stuff about Bert’s relationships is particularly peculiar as well.

Perhaps you feel, as I do, that you’ve read every possible Harry Potter related list out there devised by the human brain.  Still and all, while I had seen a bunch of these, there are still some lovely surprises in the BuzzFeed list 21 Times “Harry Potter” Was the Cleverest Book Series Ever.

Speaking of Harry Potter and BuzzFeed, new term alert: Racebent.  Didn’t know it, but this piece has actually convinced me that it is entirely possible that Hermione Granger isn’t the white-skinned schoolgirl she’s often considered to be.  Recall if you will that it was only ever made explicit that Dean Thomas had dark skin when the Harry Potter books were brought over to America (a fact that is not usually mentioned in these stories).

  • Oh, what the heck.  May as well get as Harry Potterish as possible today.  Look!  Cover animations!
  • For years I’ve yearned to go to TLA (the meeting of the Texas Library Association).  State library meetings are always fun, but Texas takes their own to another level.  So far I haven’t had an excuse, but I was reminded of this desire recently when I read the rather delightful piece on how an abandoned Texan Walmart got turned into the ultimate public library.  McAllen?  You’re good people.
  • Let It Be Known: That every author and illustrator out there that makes school visits on a regular basis should take a very close look at Nathan Hale’s School Visit Instructions and replicate PRECISELY what he has done on their own websites.  Obviously you cannot all draw so in terms of visuals he has you beat.  However, this information is perfect and you could certainly write it down in some form yourself.  Let it also be known that his upcoming book about Harriet Tubman, The Underground Abductor, is AMAZING.  Here’s the cover:

  • David Wiesner created an app?  Yep, pretty much.  It’s called Spot and it is now on my To Buy list.
  • Oh!  I don’t know if any of you folks actually know about this.  Were you aware that there is a major children’s book award out there for math-related titles?  Yep, there is.  It’s called the Mathical Award and it’s a project that has come out of a collaboration between The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC).  Those of you producing such books should look into it.  Could be very very useful to you.
  • Daily Image:

I’ve been meaning to get back to work on updating my post of the Complete Listing of All Children’s Literature Statues in the United States for a while here.  There are definitely some sections that need work.  However, one image I will not be adding is this statue of what might be the world’s creepiest Cat in the Hat.  Not because I don’t like him (oh, I do, I do) but because it’s on school rather than public property.  That doesn’t mean I can’t share him with you anyway, though.

Many thanks to Paula Wiley for bringing him to my attention.  Wowzah.

 

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3. Electric Literature’s ‘True Legends’ Story App is Free in iTunes

screen480x480True Legends, an app adaptation of author Alex Epstein’s illustrated short story, is free in iTunes this week.

The interactive app, from Electric Literature, tells the story of a blind piano tuner. It features design and illustrations by Tsach Weinberg and music by Ulrich Ziegler. The app is designed with intuitive navigation and readers can use gestures instead of page turns to interact with the story.

“We are tremendously proud to publish Alex Epstein’s work again, and his use of a new medium and method of storytelling is inspiring,” explained Andy Hunter, founder of Electric Literature in a statement. “We are excited to present this unique app to readers everywhere. We are in an era of publishing innovation and Electric Literature is an enthusiastic participant.”

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4. Book App For Kids Supports Ebola Patients in Liberia

screen640x640In the wake of an Ebola panic, a new children’s storybook app has been published to help lift the spirits of children in West Africa.

Dentist Bird: A West African Folktale tells the story of bird who explores the sights and sounds of Liberia’s rainforest. The iOS app is based on a folktale called How Plover Bird Came to Clean Crocodile’s Teeth. Michael Richards reads the story. It was illustrated by Liberian painter David Wolobah and features music by Dora the Explorer composer Steve Sandberg.

The app makers Literary Safari are promoting the app with the hashtag #ReadforLiberia and are contributing the proceeds from the app to We-Care Foundation, a non-profit group that is pushing reading and education for children in Liberia despite the Ebola outbreak. (more…)

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5. Disney Imagicademy App Available for Free!

Do you work with kids in need? We’ve got great news for you!

Disney Imagicademy Launch

© Disney

Our friends at Disney recently launched an innovative learning experience that encourages kids to learn by interacting with their favorite Disney characters and stories – inspiring a lifelong love of learning and creativity. The app and tools are available now to program leaders and educators serving children in need for free through the First Book Marketplace.

For some time, we’ve heard from our network of 150,000 educators and program leaders that web-based tools and interactive learning programs are incredibly important to helping the children they serve read, learn and achieve. We’ve worked hard to meet this need. And today, thanks to Disney, the programs and classrooms we serve have greater access to innovative learning apps and tools at the same time it is available to the general public.

To further support learning for kids ages 3 to 8, Disney will provide a three-year, $55 million product donation to First Book. This donation over the next three years is First Book’s largest gift targeting early childhood programs.  Specifically, the commitment will provide $5 million in Disney Imagicademy apps and tools to First Book and other non-profit organizations.  Disney announced its commitment on December 10 at the White House Summit on Early Education.

Teachers and educators will be able to receive free download codes from the First Book Marketplace to use the new Disney Imagicademy math app.  As parents are an ever-important part of successful learning, educators will also have the opportunity to share these download codes with the families of the children they serve, allowing families to bring lessons home and be even more involved and engaged in their child’s learning.

mickeys_magical_math_worldThe first app available through the First Book Marketplace is Mickey’s Magical Math World, which includes five app-based experiences in one large app that immerses children in key math-focused activities and games, including count along, sorting, add and subtract, shapes and problem solving.

Parents AppThe companion app for parents, Disney Imagicademy Parents, which is free on the App StoreSM, enables them to see what their children create through the apps, send digital high-fives back to their kids, ask questions to spur conversations about their child’s work and get ideas for more activities to reinforce and encourage their child’s learning.

Do you work with children in need?  Sign up with First Book today to gain access to Disney Imagicademy apps and tools, along with many other books and resources!

In-App Purchases  may be sold separately. Terms and conditions apply. This offer must be redeemed on an iPad, and, if and when available, an iPhone or iPod Touch. 
This is a promotional code and is not for resale, has no cash value, and will not be replaced if lost or stolen. Valid only on United States iTunes Store. Requires iTunes account. Must be 13+ and in the United States. Terms and Apple Privacy Policy apply, see http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html. Compatible products and services required. Apple, the Apple logo, iTunes, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iTunes Store is a trademark of Apple Inc. App Store is a registered service mark of Apple Inc. Apple is not a participant or sponsor of this promotion. Content is free for a limited time only and subject to availability.     

The post Disney Imagicademy App Available for Free! appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. App of the Week: Post-it Plus

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 6.50.52 AM

Title: Post-it Plus

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

Platform: iOS

From LiveScribe to Moleskine, there have been a number of visions on how to capture the physical process of notetaking in a digital incarnation. Like many with a love for stationary, I had played around with the digital sticky note applications, but when a student raved about the Post-it app, it sounded like something more than a mere yellow placeholder.

IMG_1085

There are two methods for creating notes. You can add them with a click, as you might in decades-old Windows programs, or your can photograph your actual physical notes. The in-app photography mechanism is among the easiest I've seen, coaching you on light levels and holding your device steady. But it's what happens when you take that picture that sets this app apart.

IMG_1083

In contrast with Evernote and its associated applications, Post-it Plus is a little different: it doesn't attempt to make sense of your writing. Each note remains its own image, which can be dragged and dropped into intuitive order. But you can write more on the notes, or even use a typewriter gadget for longer, more legible input, or even delete it altogether after you have capture or refined the sentiment.

Post-it Plus Organization

Your scanned notes retain their original colors, but a $2 in-app purchase gives you access to a rainbow's worth of post-it color options, which also make for fun organizational options. When you're done with your creation, you can share it in a range of file formats, depending on your needs.

Post-it Plus Output

Post-it Plus is a possible solution for students, teachers, and librarians, or anyone else looking for digital brainstorming and storyboarding tools that can be output in a variety of file formats. The transformation of the fixed physical into the mutable digital is bound to give you a little thrill, too.

Check out more Apps of the Week in our Archive. Know an app you'd like to see featured? Let us know.

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7. Penguin Random House Audio Team Launches The ‘Volumes’ App

VolumesThe Penguin Random House Audio team has developed a new discovery app called “Volumes.”

With this free app, readers can listen to clips from works by Jodi PicoultSophie Kinsella, and Jim Gaffigan. Sometimes, full-length audiobooks will be made available at no charge. At the moment, users can download a free digital copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which features the voice acting talents of Jim Dale.

Her’s more from the press release: “As part of the app’s launch, and to encourage users to give listening a try, Penguin Random House Audio is working with Literacy Partners to donate one audiobook (up to 25,000 audiobooks) for every person that downloads the app and pledges to listen. Listeners can take the pledge on Random House Audio’s Facebook page.” What are your favorite audiobooks?

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8. ‘Captivated By You’ Joins The iBooks Bestsellers List

Captivated By YouSylvia Day’s new book, Captivated By You, has joined Apple’s Top Paid iBooks in the U.S. at No. 1.

Apple has released its top selling books list for paid books from iBooks in the U.S. for week ending November 10, 2014. David Baldacci’s new thriller, The Escape, and Gillian Flynn’s suspense novel, Gone Girl, are occupying the second and third spots on the list this week.

We’ve included Apple’s entire list after the jump.
(more…)

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9. NPR’s Books Concierge Returns

cover2_custom-a1e9548a368241f2cbbcc1c5912aedd63246fed7-s600-c85Looking for books to buy for the reader on your holiday shopping list this year? Check out NPR’s Books Concierge. The service, which launched last year but has been updated and expanded for 2014, allows you to search the NPR staff’s favorite books of the year based on what you feel like reading.

The Book Concierge lets you mix and match from 26 different categories of reading including: Funny Stuff; Historical Fiction; It’s All Geek to Me; and Let’s Talk About Sex. All of the books are tagged with various categories, and you can hone in on your search. For instance a search for “It’s All Geek to Me” and “Love Stories” recommends Andrew Smith‘s 100 Sideways Miles. A search for “Funny Stuff” and “Music Lovers” nets Caitlin Moran‘s novel How to Build a Girl. The app features 250 titles. (more…)

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10. New App Features Every One of Dr. Seuss’ 55 Books

screen520x924Oceanhouse Media has been putting out digital versions of Dr. Seuss apps for the past few years.

Now the company has built the ultimate app for fans of the children’s book author: the Dr. Seuss Treasurythe entire classic Dr. Seuss book collection in one app.

The app includes 55 digital books. Each book includes the original text along with interactive features that were developed for the story. There is also a tool that allows parents and teachers to track a young reader’s progress.

The app is available through a subscription or you can buy the entire collection for one payment. It costs $14.99 per quarter or $49.99 per year for a membership or $99.99 to buy the whole thing.

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11. Sesame Workshop Releases Its First ‘Digital Pop-up Book’

screen520x924If you thought a print book was required for reading pop-ups, think again. Sesame Workshop has teamed up with digital services firm StoryToys to create a digital pop-up book that brings the elements of pop-up to the screen.

The first Sesame Street 3-D pop-up book, Elmo Loves You!, actually looks a lot like a real book in the way that the content jumps out at the reader. The book includes 15 interactive scenes, in which characters move and pop off of the page in the way that they would in a real pop-up book. Readers can help Ernie play the drums, exercise with Cookie Monster and count with the Count.

The eBook is currently available from iTunes for $3.99 and will soon be available on Amazon and Google Play.

You can watch a video demo of the story here.

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12. Soundtrack Tool Booktrack Now Has 1 Million Members

booktrackBooktrack, a tool designed for self-published writers and publishers to add soundtracks to their eBooks, now has more than a million users.

The company, which launched 11 months ago, expects to reach 2 million by the end of its first year. Over the last year, more than 4,000 authors have joined the platform and Booktrack users have published more than 6,000 titles in 30 different languages. This includes more than just authors. Here is more from the press release:

Booktrack’s reach also extends to the classroom, where it has been proven to dramatically improve student literacy. More than 4,000 educators around the world have adopted the Booktrack Classroom application to help students more deeply engage with creative writing, essays, novels, and poetry studies.

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13. App of the Week: aa

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.04.05 AM

Title: Aa

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

I discovered this addictive "waiting game" after watching our students staring, seemingly blankly, at their iPads, ready to spring when they see an opening. It might look like something out of The Manchurian Candidate, but while the central wheel twirls around, the player must gauge the perfect moment to add another spoke in the spaces remaining without knocking any of the existing elements. Any error sends you back to the adding all of the elements all over again.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.05.49 AM

Like Dots, the underlying gaming concept behind Aa couldn't be simpler. Any gesture on the screen inserts a spoke at the bottom of the spinning radius. But, by adding an element as you advance through each level, it quickly builds into a challenge as it becomes more difficult to insert a new one given the scant room available. Avoiding the impulse to "fire" spokes in a rapid-fire manner is the real test of patience and hand-eye coordination.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.05.36 AM

Aa is free, but the ability to skip and unlock levels are available as in-app purchases, as is a nominal charge to remove ads, which appear every few levels (just when a break can be welcome). The highest level you've mastered appears numerically in the center of the wheel, providing an immediate talking point based on skill.

General Adaptive Apps has a range of similar games using different shapes and objectives, but this seems to be their most popular incarnation. I think it might appeal to novice gamers getting new devices over the holiday, too.

For more apps for teens and the librarians who serve them, check out the App of the Week archive. Have a suggestion for an App of the Week? Let us know.

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14. Take a ‘Shelfie’ to Get a Free eBook Version of Any Print Book You Own

1_shelfie.minWant an eBook version of a book that you own in print? Check out bitlit, a new app that will help connect you with an eBook if you can prove that you own the print edition.

With the app, you take a “shelfie” of your book shelf. The app will use that photo to see if any of the books on your shelf are eligible for a free download. Here is more from bitlit about how to claim the title:

Now that you know which books are available, take a photo of the cover of your book and sign your name on the copyright page in ALL CAPS.

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15. App of the Week: Party Party

Title:  Party Party
Platforms:  iOS
Cost:  $.99

 

Party Party Icon

If youre anything like me, you probably have so many photography apps that you sometimes call your phone a camera by mistake.  The trouble with such a bounty is that each app usually offers a singular use or function, forcing you to thumb through all the options for each photo op.

The Party Party app cuts through some of that cumbersome decision-making by offering an easy way to take and edit single photos, or take sequential photos that can be formatted as a photo booth collage or stitched together to create stop-motion animations.  In essence, you get three apps in one.

The interface is bright, playful, and intuitive, opening to a photo capture screen with minimal and clearly defined icons:  toggle the lightning bolt for flash, change the orientation of the camera, select the number of photos you want in your sequence (1, 4, 9, or 16), select the gear icon for further options, or hit the shutter button to begin.

partypartyhomescreen

The camera then takes the selected number of photos with a couple of seconds lag time between each — long enough to change facial expressions or move the star of your stop-motion project.  If the product isn’t to your liking, selecting the gear icon allows you to change the amount of delay between pictures in the sequence or choose Manual mode to set up shots without being rushed.

Once satisfied with your photos, you can move to the Layouts page to choose how fast you’d like your animation to run (from turtle to rabbit) or choose the style of your photo booth collage.  Next, a basic photo editor allows you to apply filters and adjust brightness and contrast before exporting your creation as a photo, video, or GIF to social media sites or your camera roll.

partypartylayoutscreen

The ability to import photos and opt out of the automatic looping that occurs with the animations might make this party a bit more fun.  Still, Party Party will appeal to teens looking to enhance their Instagram experience and offer those of us who program for them lots of options with one icon on our homescreen.

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16. AniRef App Lets Animators Create and Analyze Reference Footage

AniRef is an app created especially for animators who need to record, analyze, and track arcs in reference footage. It was created by recent Ringling grad Paolo Cogliati who currently works at The Mill in New York. “Ive been taking it around with me outside of the studio and recording spontaneous things I find and see while roaming the city,” he says of the demo below. “This child walked into frame without me knowing while I was recording people’s feet to scrub through, and made my day! I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so close to a Pinocchio walk in real life!” The app includes the following features: Record actions and add to your library for future reference Analyze footage frame by frame, at multiple frame rates Track arcs, spacing and timing by positioning trackers View your tracking in 4 different display modes Export and Email your tracked footage as .mov and import into your 2D/3D software for ease of workflow Playback in slow motion or at 24 FPS> Bookmark your key poses with the StarPose tool and toggle from key to key Know exactly what frame you are on with the embedded frame count Save your reference to the AniRef library, separate from your regular videos for easy finding and privacy AniRef on the iOS is available for $4.99 on the App Store. For more info, visit AniRef.com. Don’t miss any updates from Cartoon Brew. Join Cartoon Brew on Facebook!

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17. App Advisory: Where to Start?

App-advisory can be intimidating, especially for those of us who are not heavily engaged in touch-screen technology in our personal lives.  Although I am excited to be a new member of the Children and Technology Committee, and this is a professional interest of mine, I must confess: I don’t own a smartphone or a tablet.  But I strongly believe that whatever your personal habits or philosophies, as professionals, we need to be willing and able (and enthusiastic!) to be media mentors, modeling responsible new media use and providing recommendations for parents and families.  With so many apps out there, many of which are labeled “educational,” we need to be able to provide parents with trusted recommendations and advice.  If you can do reader’s advisory, you already have the skills to do app advisory! Here are some suggestions, based on what we did at the Wellesley Free Library.

Get to know your material!  Read app reviews (see list of review sources below) and keep track of the apps about which you read. We use a Google spreadsheet, so that all Children’s Department staff can contribute.  This includes, when available, recommended age (though this is something significantly lacking in many app reviews), price, platform, categories, and our comments.  Keeping this information centralized and organized makes it easy to come up with specific apps to recommend to a patron, or to pull for a list.

Play around with the apps!  If you have money to spend (consider asking your Friends group for money for apps, especially if you will be using the apps in library programs), download some apps that seem interesting and try them out.  Even if you can’t spend money, you can try out free apps or download free “lite” versions of apps.  Playing with the app allows you to give a more in-depth description and detailed information in your advisory (consider the difference between recommending a book based on a review you read and having read the book itself).

Choose your method of advisory. App advisory can take many forms. There is the individual recommendation at the reference desk, there are app-chats (the app version of the book-talk), which have been discussed in an article on the ALSC blog by Liz Fraser, and then there are app-lists.  For the past year, we have created monthly themed app lists, mostly for young children between the ages of 2 and 6.  The themes have included: interactive books, music, math, letters, and more. Be sure to include free apps as well as apps available for non-Apple devices on your lists.

Provide advice, along with recommendations.  On the back of our paper app lists, and on the website where we post links to the app-list Pinterest boards, we offer advice to parents about using interactive technology with young children.

A year later, still without a smartphone or tablet, I feel much more confident about recommending apps to patrons, reviewing and evaluating apps, and building our collection, and you can too!  You already have the tools for evaluating media that meets children’s developmental needs and creating interesting and attractive advisory methods for families.  The next step is simply taking it to a new platform!

Some of our favorite review sources for apps:

Children’s Technology Review
Cybils Award
Digital Storytime
Horn Book App of the Week
Kirkus ipad Book App Reviews
Little elit
Parents’ Choice Awards
School Library Journal App Reviews

Clara Hendricks is a Children’s Librarian at the Wellesley Free Library in Wellesley, MA. She is a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee.

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18. HarperCollins Releases the ’1D Official Book’ Companion App

One DirectionHarperCollins hired Re:Systems to design and develop a companion application for the One Direction autobiography, Who We Are. The publisher released the app on September 24th; the book came out on October 7th.

This free app, available for both iOS and Android devices, allows fans of this popular boy band to interact with the book. It has been downloaded more than 60,000 times within the last two weeks.

Here’s more from The Drum: “Using the app, built for iOS and Android mobile devices, 1D fans can activate hidden, never-before-seen content by placing their mobile device over motifs and photographs within the book, as illustrated by the band’s welcome in-app video. This includes exclusive access to photos, videos, interviews, intimate clips from the band’s first audiobook and quiz questions, fed into the app throughout the year via the CMS. Points are collected as users answer quiz questions correctly, allowing hidden content, or ‘fan extras,’ to be unlocked.”

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19. Kickstarter alert: Comic Chameleon goes Android

3042d2a6613392420063e64fd4e44079 large Kickstarter alert: Comic Chameleon goes Android

While digital comics have changed the medium for good, individual comics apps haven’t really taken off as much as you might think. But there are some good ones out there: Comic Chameleon is a webcomic aggregator that actually picks up popular webcomics like  Questionable COntent, Girls with Slingshots and the like. And with permission. They’ve been around on iOS for a while, but now they’ve got a Kickstrter fo develop an Android version. It’s about halfway to a $13,000 goal, so it looks pretty solid to go all the way. But in a twist, some of the Kickstarter money will go to creators:

10% of the campaign will go to the artists of your choice

If you care about supporting independent webcomic artists as much as we do, you’ll be happy to know that when you contribute to our campaign, 10% of your pledge will go to up to 3 artists of your choice who publish with our app. We’ve always been as much about supporting artists as we’ve been about entertaining you, and our Kickstarter is no different.

We’ve talked to head guy Bersie Sou a few times and he seems like an on the level guy. This is another strong move.

How about it, Beaterati? Do you read comics on your phone via apps like Comic Chameleon? Why or why not?

 

0 Comments on Kickstarter alert: Comic Chameleon goes Android as of 10/29/2014 7:41:00 PM
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20. Oyster Launches a New Book Lists Feature

OysterOyster has added Book Lists to its eBook streaming service. This new feature will allow for greater discoverability.

Readers can build and share lists of their favorite titles. As a subscriber scans a list from the app on their mobile device, they can click on a title that interests them and instantly start reading.

According to the Oyster blog, the company has reached out to different groups and authors to kick off the launch. Organizations such as Warby Parker, Blue Bottle, and the Rhode Island School of Design have curated their own special lists. The group of writers who joined in include The Glass Castle memoirist Jeanette Walls, The Devil Wears Prada novelist Lauren Weisenberger, and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon.

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21. Tom Hanks Types a Book of Short Stories

TomHanksHeadshotGiven his affinity for typewriters and his collection of favorite models, including a Hermes 2000, a 1930s Remington, and a midcentury Royal, we imagine Tom Hanks tapped out first drafts for the book he just sold to Alfred A. Knopf. Images of his typewriters inspired a series of short stories.

According to the New York Times: “’The stories are not about the typewriters themselves, but rather the stories are something that might have been written on one of them,’ Mr. Hanks said in a statement released by Knopf on Monday.”

In September, Hanks shared the origin story for his typewriter love with NPR’s Audie Cornish, “I ended up just having them around because they’re beautiful works of art, and I ended up collecting them from every ridiculous source possible. It really kicked off probably when I had a little excess cash. But better to spend it on $50 typewriters than some of the other things you can blow show-business money on.”

He also discussed with Cornish how using a typewriter changes the writing process:

“It makes me work a little slower, and when you work a little slower, you work a little bit more accurately. … I like operating a little bit slower. Typing on an actual typewriter on paper is only a softer version of chiseling words into stone.”

Hanks’ book of short stories follows the release in August of his writing app, Hanx Writer, which simulates a typewriter keyboard and action, and his 2013 New York Times op-ed, “I Am TOM. I Like to TYPE. Hear That?”

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22. App of the Week: Brushstroke

Name: Brushstroke
Cost: 2.99
Platform: iOS 7 or later

code organa logoBrushstroke is a seemingly simple app that turns a photo into a painting. You might think to yourself, so what? But really, it’s a pretty powerful tool that gives teens, teachers, and librarians the chance to use a variety of effects on their photos and is a great way to start discussions on painting techniques, styles, how visual messages change as a result of visual choices, and even artists and art movements.

The way it works is that a user selects a photo from an iPad or iPhone camera roll or takes a photo from within the app. The next step is to crop the image if need be. After that, and I admit it took me a minute to figure out how to get from the crop screen to the painting screen – it’s the > on the top right (as you can see in the images below) – the image is rendered as a painting. In the photos below you’ll see the original version of the photo I painted on the left and the painted version on the right.

original photo of harry and lulu relaxing brushstroke painted photo of harry and lulu relaxing

Once a photo is turned by Brushstroke into a painting, a wide-array of painting styles are available to render the image in. Choices range from oil and watercolor styles to experimental and abstract styles. You can also add color filters; a canvas type such as primed, rough, canvas, stone, and so on; change exposure, brightness, and add a highlights; and add a signature to a painting. Brushstroke signature screenWhen adding a signature there are a few color choices available and as the signature is created it’s visible on the painting so it’s easy to tell which color will display the best.

After completing a painting it can be saved, shared via traditional social media channels, or even produced and shipped framed and ready to hang in a school, library, or teenager’s bedroom.

Teens who are interested in different styles of art can compare their favorite artist’s paintings to the styles they create with Brushstrokes. Teachers who are working with teens in art classes, history classes, and so on can use Brushstroke as a jumping off point in conversations about the ways in which different painting techniques can be used in order to send a particular message or create a particular emotion.

Turning a photo into a painting might seem like a simple idea. But in reality, to transform the photo into the style most appropriate for the image portrayed takes a lot of thought and trial and error. Critical thinking and problem-solving are a key part of the process.

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23. Scribd Subscribers to Have Access to 30,000 Audiobooks

Scribd 200Scribd will add 30,000 audiobooks to its library.

Subscribers to the digital book streaming service will have access to both new releases and popular backlist titles. Some of the audiobooks that have been made available include Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, Roberto Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives, and Brené Brown’s nonfiction book Daring Greatly.

Here’s more from the press release: “The addition of this extensive audiobooks selection, which includes titles from Blackstone, HarperCollins, Scholastic and Naxos, to Scribd’s existing library of more than half a million eBooks represents the largest unlimited-access offering of eBooks and audiobooks available today…Listeners can browse special audio-only collections curated by Scribd’s editorial staff, including collections arranged by length, narrator, and subject, from ‘Shakespearean Actors Reading Shakespeare’ to ‘Roadtrip Listening: SF to LA,” to “What to Listen to on the Way to a Job Interview.’”

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24. NaNoWriMo Tip #7: Always Carry a Notepad

evernoteIdeas can come at any time. All writers, that certainly includes NaNoWriMo participants, should get in the habit of carrying around a notepad to jot down their thoughts at a moment’s notice.

These days, there are other ways to doodle and scribble besides using pen and paper. The Evernote team recently released the Penultimate app for iOS mobile device users; the developers made it a mission to give users the “most natural digital handwriting experience on iPad.”

This is our seventh NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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25. NaNoWriMo Tip #10: 3 Ways to Tackle Writer’s Block

Murakami QuoteEven the most seasoned authors tangle with writer’s block. We’ve collected five methods to help with this affliction so that NaNoWriMo participants can continue to progress with the projects.

(1) iPad users can try out the “Unstuck” app to access digital tools and encouragement from an empathetic community.

(2) Grammy Award winner Sting was able to beat his writer’s block by drawing inspiration from other people’s stories. The memory of the the shipyard workers he knew from his youth lead him to write the songs for The Last Ship musical.

(3) American Born Chinese graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang forces himself to write “horrible, amateurish, grammatically incorrect, barely comprehensible sentences.” At some point, “ the decent sentences start coming out.”

This is our tenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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