Some of my earliest childhood memories were made at my hometown library. I can remember being four years old and winning a Jurassic Park beach towel as a summer reading prize. (Over 20 years later, I still own that towel.) I remember going to the nonfiction section and scooping up EVERY book on horses I could get my little mitts on. Most of all, I remember playing on the computers.
Sometimes, computers and electronic content are considered the mortal enemy of libraries and reading. I disagree. See, my earliest childhood memories are not of internet surfing or of gaming. My memories are of using the library’s computers to read. In the mid to late nineties (90s kids rejoice), a series of computer game/story book hybrids called “Living Books” appeared in libraries and homes across America. These computer programs were digital, partially animated, adaptations of well-loved children’s books that allowed kids to read while having a more interactive experience.
These computer programs were such a huge part of my childhood that when I found out the Lawrence Public Library had some of these Living Books pre-downloaded onto some of our children’s computers, I was beyond excited. Titles like Mercer Mayer’s Little Monster at School and Stan and Jan Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight, are available for new generations of kids to play. The programs have two different modes, “Read to Me” and “Let Me Play,” which allow readers at different skill levels to enjoy the books. “Read to Me” is a setting that reads the story to younger children while highlighting each word. “Let Me Play,” allows more experienced readers or children who have played through the book before to read the book at their own pace. Both options have interactive illustrations that spring into lively animation when clicked.
If you or any kiddos in your life want to have a new library experience, think of giving Living Books and our AWE computers a try. I hope you like them as much as I do.