Special Story Apps for December

lightsThe objective of our iPad Digital Storytime is to help children make the connection between digital media and physical books, and to extend the story with other activities whenever possible. Early reading skills such as predicting outcome, developing vocabulary, and reading comprehension are also incorporated into the program.

We look for apps that are based on actual children’s books but also include apps that have the qualities found in good literature for children in any format. Sometimes we even include some educational games or music – but our main focus is on literature and encouraging children to love reading.

In our experiences with apps and digital storytelling, we have learned that apps come in a wide range of prices. Many are free, but some of those include distracting ads. Some have in-app purchases, which we think are not the best choice for children or for our programs. App prices change from time to time as publishers offer temporary discounts. Some have even gone “out of print” and are no longer available! One of the resources that we use for finding apps that are free or on sale is Smart Apps for Kids: www.smartappsforkids.com. Smart Apps offers a free email newsletter that arrives each day with lists of apps (including apps for kids with special needs) that are available at a discount for that day only. Before purchasing an app, you can find reviews on the Internet by searching for the app by name combined with the word “reviews.”

The apps below were used during the December Holiday Fun iPad storytime at the library.

biscuitBiscuit Gives a Gift
This app is based on the series of books by Alyssa Capucilli and features easy-to-read text, some simple animations, and a few activities to extend the story. Designed for iPhone and iPad, as of this writing it is available to download for 99 cents.

little critterMerry Christmas Mom and Dad
This Little Critter reading app, a new release for the Christmas 2013 holiday, was written by Mercer Mayer (author of the popular Little Critter books) and produced by Oceanhouse Media. The story introduces some of the traditions of Christmas – wrapping presents, trimming the tree, etc. – from the point of view of Little Critter, who wants more than anything to be helpful – yet things don’t turn out as planned. Vocabulary words appear when a word or picture is tapped, and the opportunity to record your own narration will help develop the young reader’s storytelling skills. Designed for iPhone and iPad, all of this can be yours for a cool 99 cents (limited time offer).

popoutxmas 2PopOut! Night Before Christmas
Produced by loudcrow Interactive, a company known for its quality apps, this is a pop-up version of the traditional poem written by Clement C. Moore that features a visit from St. Nicholas – the original Santa Claus – with classic illustrations by William Denslow. Every page has something to turn or touch or swipe that brings the drawings to life just as a paper pop-up book does. The “Read to me” version highlights the text as it is read aloud, while the “Read myself” version will highlight and speak any word that is touched. Designed for multiple formats, including iPad and Android, this app is currently available at a reduced price of $2.99.

peekaboo presentsPeekaboo Presents
Night & Day Studios has a series of Peekaboo book apps for toddlers, and all of them follow the same format. Something is hidden, in this case inside a present, and if you listen, you can hear a clue. Touch the box to open it and reveal the gift or Christmas item inside. At the end, all of the toys and items appear together, along with a beautiful Christmas tree, and then they all go to sleep. Although this app is meant for toddlers, the five- and six-year olds in our group enjoyed it as well, and took great delight in guessing. Designed for multiple formats, the price for the iPad version is $1.99.

DontopenDon’t Open Before Christmas
Written by Bill Doyle and produced by Crab Hill Press, an ebook company, this story is based on the idea that presents are like eggs and can’t be opened until they are “hatched” – which a boy named Seymour discovers when he sneaks a peek at his gifts. The gifts wreak havoc in his house, but all ends well and Seymour learns a lesson. The interactive elements in this app bring the story to life. Available for iPad, current price $2.99.

ACX-ACP44917Christmas Karaoke
PopcornGrenade.com offers 12 carols for Christmas sing-along. The attractive, snowy white and cloudy gray scene is highlighted with bright splashes of red, and the text for each carol highlights the lyrics to be sung in red. The cloudy background can be changed to a starry midnight blue or warm cozy yellow. The text is large and clear – just right for new readers! The “Lite” version is available to try for free (with two songs), but 99 cents gives you all 12 carols, including Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and Auld Lang Syne. Available in multiple formats.

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December Puppet Show!

Klezmer Kabaret Puppet Show! Tuesday, December 3 @ 7:00 p.m. (Main Library)

All are welcome!  Registration begins Nov. 19.



What is Klezmer music? It’s joyful, funny, exhuberant, and sometimes even a little sad. It was born a few hundred years ago in small villages in Eastern Europe and now enjoys a great renaissance all around the world.

This production is a tribute to that world, and a full-fledged concert in and of itself.

Not only will you see a fiddler on a roof, you’ll see a clarinet, accordion and trumpet player, too. Plus, a line of jubilant dancers balancing wine bottles on their heads, funny village clowns and amazing acrobats – a unique puppet theater experience, bringing to life the soulful world of Klezmer entertainment. It’s timeless, it’s traditional, it’s terrific!

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Stories without Words


Would you like to help your child develop good reading comprehension skills and increase vocabulary?
Read a wordless picture book together!
Your child will develop important reading skills, such as:
• critical thinking
• predicting what happens next
• storytelling/narrative skills
• detecting story sequence

Juvenile-Illustration-Kitten-and-puppy-3 Extend the story by asking open-ended questions about what is happening in the pictures. Ask the child, “What do you think will happen next?”
Ask “What if ..” questions.
Play “I Spy with my Little Eye” and look for items on the page.

Search for “stories without words” in the library catalog to find wordless picture books,

but here are a few to help you get started:

indexZoom by Istvan Banyai – See what is really happening when you zoom in for a closer look.

sidewalkcircusSidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman – As a young girl watches, the activities across from her bus stop become a circus.

rosieswalkRosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins – A hen takes a walk through the farmyard without realizing that a fox is following her.

Tsecretboxhe Secret Box by Barbara Lehman – A schoolboy hides a box under the floorboards for children of the future to find and follow to a secret place.

picnicPicnic by Emily McCully – A young mouse gets lost on his way to a family picnic.

ballfordaisyA Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka – A dog’s favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog.

flotsamFlotsam by David Wiesner – A science-minded boy discovers an underwater camera washed up on the beach.

Watch for a booklist with additional titles, coming soon!



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Looking for the Summer Reading Link?

Do you need to access your child’s summer reading in order to print a certificate for school or for your scrapbook?

Scroll down to the post “Join the Summer Reading Program” (June 12, 2013).  Click on the link for the program for your child and log in as usual.  You won’t be able to log additional reading, but you can see the books you recorded and print a certificate that includes all of them or just your favorites.

Warning: Everything is deleted by the website vendor on September 30, so do it soon!
DIG into Reading Logo

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Don’t forget to log your summer reading online!

Did you join the summer reading program? Have you been reading all summer? Don’t forget to log in at the library website and record your reading. Whenever you reach a prize level, select your prize and it will be saved for you.Squirrel skunk reading

Last day to record reading: Friday, August 23
Last day to pick up prizes: Monday, September 16

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Join the Summer Reading Program!

Embedded EL Slogan RGB

Avoid the “summer slide!” Kids who read and are read to during the summer will keep their skills sharp and be ready to learn in September. Kids who don’t read? They may slide back two reading levels!

The key to summer reading is to keep it fun so that kids enjoy reading. Let them read what they like, because studies also show that it’s the reading that keeps the skills sharp, regardless of whether a child is reading at level or below it.

Sign up for the Dig into Reading NJ Statewide Summer Reading Program 2013!

Why take part in the library summer reading program? Because we will work with you to keep reading fun! Children read on their own or with family members, and then record the time spent reading (and any books finished) at the library’s website.

For every 100 minutes of reading time (for ages 4 – 11 years) or every 10 picture books read (for ages 0 – 3 years), the children receive an incentive prize, like a trinket from the Library Treasure Chest. Children love this! Many parents have told us in previous summers what a difference it made for their child and how this program encouraged the child to read more.

Embedded Frog lilly pad

Sign up for the children’s summer reading program on or after June 15. You can do it online from your home computer with Internet access or come in person to the library and use one of our computers or have a staff member help you. There is a packet with a reading log and some fun activities available in the library for all who sign up.

To sign up Ages 4 - 11 years for the Dig into Reading program, click here: http://www.libraryinsight.net/rplogon.asp?jx=ft&rp=977

To sign up Ages 0 – 3 years for the Dig into Reading Early Literacy program, click here: http://www.libraryinsight.net/rplogon.asp?jx=ft&rp=1022

There are reading programs for teens and for adults, too.  Check it out!

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Sing & Sign with Junior Jam!

Join ASCAP Award winning songwriter Jeff Eisenberg for this fun, interactive program that teaches basic sign language to children ages 1 to 5 years with their parents. You’ll be signing and singing in the first class!
Registration is required for this four-week program and is available immediately.

To register, call the Children’s Desk at the library or stop by in person, and staff members will help.

Classes will be held the first four Saturdays in June at 11:00 a.m.JuniorJamGroup2small

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The Reading Connection

The Reading Connection is an activity program for kids ages 4 – 8 years with a parent or parents. Each month, a different letter of the alphabet is featured. We read stories that focus on that letter, develop reading comprehension skills by talking about the story, and then have fun together at six learning stations that feature a craft or activity to go with that letter. In these photos, we played with the letter “F” and made frog puppets, fingerprint fish, and played “Go Fish.”photo (2)

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photo (1)

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Summer Reading is coming!

Embedded Possum and mice readingRegistration begins June 15th for

“Dig into Reading,” the 2013 NJ Statewide Summer Reading Program!
All ages are welcome – younger children may be read to by other family members.

How it works:
On or after June 15, register online or at the library.

Children and families read on their own time, wherever they are, whenever they like.

Read whatever you want, even comic books and magazines!  Keep track of how much time you spend reading,  and then log your reading time and books or other materials online.

When you reach a prize level, choose from the selection that appears on your screen, and then come to the library at your convenience to pick it up.

Everything you need will be revealed on June 15th!

There will be a full calendar of special events for children and families throughout the summer.

Questions? Call the Children’s Reference Desk at the Main Library: 732-873-8700 ext. 112

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A Storytelling Festival at Franklin Township Library!


Julie Della Torre



Avid listeners


Carol Titus


Maria LoBiondo


Children listen attentively to Maria’s tale.









On Sunday, April 7, children and adults gathered to hear the tales of six different storytellers.

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