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Media and Technology

Materials for Youth 14: Media and Technology
from Annette Lamb on Vimeo.
To read the transcript of this video, go to the transcript page.

From audiobooks to transmedia storytelling, technology connections have been discussed throughout the course. However, let's spend some time focusing specifically on electronic materials for youth.

An entire course is available in electronic materials for youth. Go to Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults for more resources and ideas.

Public and school libraries have always contained a wide variety of resources for children and young adults. Over the past century, libraries have increasingly provided access to nonprint materials such as maps, photographs, slides, and kits. The past several decades have seen a tremendous increase in electronic materials for children and young adults. These kinds of materials include computer software, audio CDs, DVDs, and Internet resources.

In recent years, the introduction of mobile apps and e-book readers have had a major impact on the lives of young people. Many youth have never known life without these devices.

Let's explore book-movie connections, fiction materials, informational materials, instructional materials, creativity tools, and digital collections used by youth. Also explore ways to provide youth with access to these electronic resources.

Book-Movie Connections

You’re probably familiar with the movies based on famous book series like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight. You may also remember some of the classics that were made into films like The Wizard of Oz and Old Yeller. However there are many more out there you may not have seen. A few of these books-movie connections are listed below:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal (Perfect) Snogging by Louise Rennison
The Baby-Sitter's Club by Ann M. Martin
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
Babe: The Gallant Pig
by Dick King-Smith
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang by Ian Fleming
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon
Curious George by H.A. Rey
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Dark is Rising (Seeker: The Dark is Rising) by Susan Cooper
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
Divergent by Veroica Roth
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key
Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl
Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
The Lorax by Dr. Suess
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Guardians of Ga'Hoole series (Legend of Guardians) by Kathryn Lasky
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Holes by Louis Sachar
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Host by Stephenie Meyer
Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Suess
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Nim's Island by Wendy Orr and Kerry Millard
Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
One Hundred and One Dalmations by Dobie Smith
Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary
Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton
The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett
The Secret of NIMH (book title: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH) by Robert C O’Brien
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Shiloh series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Shrek series by Wiliam Steig
Skellig by David Almond
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Speak by Laura Halse Anderson
Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi
Stuart Little by E.B. White
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillos
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Water Horse by Dick King-Smith
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Witches by Roald Dahl
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

Read Diaz, Shelley (June 5, 2014). Page to Screen. School Library Journal.

Many books have also been made into television shows, particularly for PBS.

Read Martha! (April/May 2012). Horn Book.

Fiction Materials

Audiobooks, web-based reading, e-books, and interactive apps are available for many of the materials discussed throughout this course.


cakeAudio books are a popular electronic technology for young people. In the past, many libraries have provided books-on-tape and books-on-CD. A growing trend is toward books-on-MP3. These can be downloaded to portable MP3 players such as the, iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Audio books are also sold in self-contained players.

Awards are given to audiobooks regardless of their particular format. The Audies are given by the Audio Publishers Association. The Great Cake Mystery is an example of a winner for the under age 8 category.

LibriVox is a popular source for over 7,000 free public domain audiobooks. Archive.org includes LibriVox as well as other sources for free audiobooks. Millions of people have downloaded books like Pride and PrejudiceMoby Dick, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Dracula.

Audible.com is a web-based resource owned by Amazon with 100,000+ books that can be downloaded to Kindle, tablet, iPhone, iPod, and Android devices.

The Playaway provides a book on a small portable MP3 player with earbuds. It requires a triple A battery. Many books for children and teens are available in this format. Books are also available for young adults. The Playaway Bookpack combines a print version of the book along with an audiobook. Bookset are also available.

Read Whittingham, Jeff; Huffman, Stephanie; Christensen, Rob; and Tracy McAllister (2013). Use of Audiobooks in a School Library and Positive Effects of Struggling Readers’ Participation in a Library-Sponsored Audiobook Club. School Library Research, 16.

Web-based Reading

For the past couple decades, an increasing number of fiction reading opportunities are available online. Many classic books for young people are available online at Archive.org including

Some web-based book websites are sponsored by well-known organizations, while others are start-ups focusing on the new online reading market. For instance, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid began as an online reading experience before becoming a physical book, then a movie. Some websites provide a mixture of subscription and pay reading experiences. For instance, the Sesame Street ebook website rotates books providing a few for free online reading each week.


An electronic book or (ebook, e-book, eBook) is a book-length publication in a digital form. Consisting of text, graphics, and sometimes audio, video, animation or other enhanced elements, these books are readable on an e-book reader (i.e., Kindle, Nook), computer, or other electronic device such as a smartphone, tablet, or other hand-held device. Below is a list of some of the most popular ebook and audiobook services for libraries:

Some school libraries subscribe to e-book services that are connected to the curriculum such as BookFlix from Scholastic that pairs classic stories with related nonfiction works and FreedomFlix from Scholastic that connects nonfiction ebooks with primary source materials. A free trial is available for evaluation.

For more examples and ideas, go to my E-Books page in my Electronic Materials course.

Interactive Apps

From classics like Alice in Wonderland to popular fiction like the Twilight series, e-books and book apps are hot. According to publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux, "we’ve reached the tipping point—the technology is in the school, the kids know how to use it.  It just makes sense."

Storia from Scholastic is a free eReading App that can be run on Windows PC, iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android. The app is used to access both free and subscription-based ebook content. Hundreds of Scholastic fiction and nonfiction titles are available. Many of the books have audio elements and enriched ebook options such as interactives and games. Reading Rainbow is another subscription-based app.


Miss Spider's Tea Party for the iPad is an interactive book that contains the classic picture book in addition to multi-touch animation, painting, puzzles, and games.

Chopsticks is one of a growing number of novels for youth designed specifically as mobile apps. The novel includes interactive elements including audio, video, and images.

Informational Materials

No longer are children lifting heavy encyclopedia volumes to do their school reports or find out about pet care. Instead, many are heading to electronic resources including popular informational websites like National Geographic, online encyclopedia like Wikipedia, and electronic databases from states providers like Inspire. Or, they're downloading apps such as WebMD.

Web-based Information Resources

Many youth use search tools such as Google to locate information. However there are more effective ways to location quality online materials.


It can be difficult to keep up with all the options. Use websites like ALA's Great Websites for Kids to locate reviewed resources. Go to usa.gov and kids.gov for government resources. For educators, Thinkfinity is the place to begin your search. This website links to partner pages across academic areas. Other starting points include:

Many libraries, particularly school libraries subscribe to services that help youth locate pre-selected websites such as netTrekker.


Databases have become an important informational too for youthl. An electronic database is a collection of information organized so that a computer can quickly access requested data. Like a traditional file cabinet, databases are organized by fields, records, and files. A wide range of tools allow users to browse or search the contents of electronic databases. These electronic databases can be divided into two categories: subscription and open-access.

Subscription databases are paid-resources that are accessed using a username and password. In many states, a collection of databases is purchased through the state and provided to school and public libraries for free. Libraries then supplement this collection with their own subscriptions. Companies like Gale are known for their subscription databases. Electronic encyclopedias are popular electronic databases. World Book Encyclopedia Online is a favorite choice for children and young adults. Encyclopedia Britannica and Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia are also popular.

Some databases are designed specifically for elementary age students. As part of its subscription search, EBSCO Publishing a tool called Searchasaurus that helps guide students through the use of its databases including Primary Search, Middle Search Plus, Nook Collection: Nonfiction, Image Collection, Newspaper Source, and TOPICsearch.

Go to Inspire, a service of the Indiana State Library that provides many databases to Indiana libraries. Go to the Inspire Information page for a list of databases. Also, check out a list of other states with similar services.

Open-access databases are those that are available for free without a subscription. Although some require a free login requirement, others are simply open to the public. Over the past several years, many libraries, museums, and agencies have developed wonderful, open-access electronic databases. Butterflies and Moths of North America is a searchable database including occurrence maps, species accounts, checklists, and photographs of thousands butterflies and moths.

Go to Databases from my Electronic Materials course to learn more about databases for youth.


Seek out ways to connect books with web-based resources. Explore some examples below:

Connect The New Way Things Work (1998) by David Macaulay with the following web-based resources:

App-based Information Resources

From art to world languages there are quality electronic resources in every subject area. The Walt Whitman app (shown below left) provides youth with information about the poet and his poems. The Cell and Cell Structure app (shown below right) provides information and instruction related to cell biology.


Books like The Elements: A Visual Exploration provide text, graphics, and animations. National Geographic's Ultimate Dinopedia is an example of an interactive book on the topic of dinosaurs.

Many apps are associated with outdoor activities. For instance, Sky Guide and Star Walk are two apps youth can use at night to get information about the night sky and learn the constellations.

Lots of museums produce apps that provide information about their collections. The Smithsonian is an example. Apps are also available to many historical sites, particularly associated with the National Park System.

For more examples of informational electronic materials, go to the Nonfiction Resources page in my Electronic Materials course.

Instructional Materials

Websites and apps are available to help youth learn in both format and informal situations. For instance, Brainpop is available online and as an app.

Web-based Instructional Materials

Interactives are much more than text, graphics, audio, and video information on a web page. They provide an engaging environment where learners can organize resources, manipulate information, and even create new content. Students aren't simply consumers of information; they become part of an active, learning experience. Explore the following list of general websites that contain interactives for youth.

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Select and explore three of the interactives from the list above. Compare and contrast how users interact with the content presented. Which approach to you think would be most appealing to youth?

Think about ways to pair interactives with books. A basic example is pairing the book The Lord of the Flies by William Golding with the Nobel Prize interactive Lord of the Flies Game. In some cases, publisher websites provide the matching interactives. For instance, the Owen and Mzee website goes with the book Owen & Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Dr. Paula Kahumbu and Peter Greste. 

Let's explore some other examples:

Art. Try the art games at Dimenna Children's History Museum. Then, read one of the following books:

Autism. Take the What do you really know about autism quiz from OpenLearn. Then, read one of the following books:

Colonial Times. Visit Colonial Williamsburg's website for lots of online activities. Then, read one of the following books set in that time period.

Diabetes. Play The Diabetic Dog Game. Then, read one of the following books focusing on this topic.

Underground Railroad. Read one of the books below about the underground railroad. Then, try the The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom interactive from National Geographic.

App-based Instructional Materials

Many apps such as SAT Word Slam and Edupath ACT help youth prepare for tests. Super Why is only one of many PBS Kids learning apps available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. 


Creativity Tools

Children and young adults can use creativity resources to develop exciting personal and school projects that involve writing, drawing, recording sounds, and incorporating video. Think of these as the tools of technology.

Productivity Tools

Youth continue to use standard productivity tools such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. However, some educators prefer to use software designed specifically for children and young adults. Max's Toolbox provides an age-appropriate interface for Microsoft Office. It includes MaxWriteMaxCount, and MaxShow.

Increasingly young people are attracted to collaborative tools such as Google Docs and mobile versions of wordprocessing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools.

Interactive apps for mobile devices are very popular. For instance, Toontastic is an app provides children a fun tool for creating characters, cartoons, and great stories.

The creation of comics has exploded in popularity with tools such as Comic Life. Try the demo for Mac or Windows for 30 days. It's also available as a mobile app. Visual learners enjoy using Kidspiration or Inspiration

Explore tools such as Animation-ish from Fablevision. A trial is available for this easy-to-use drawing and animation tool.

Online Tools

A growing number of creativity tools are available online. These tools are often available at no cost and can be accessed anywhere, anytime. However keep in mind that because the resources are free, they may not be available forever. Always has a "back up" plan when using online resources.

ReadWriteThink tools are great for one-shot activities such as creating Character Trading Cards, a BioCube or Persuasion Map. Pair these great tools with books. Explore some examples below.

Haiku. Youth might read one of the following books on haiku poetry. Then, use the Haiku Poem Interactive to create their own poem.

Hero's Journey. Read one of the following books or series. Then, build your own project using the Hero's Journey interactive.

Other popular tools often used by youth include:

Programming Tools

Programming tools specifically for youth such as Minecraft and Scratch provide a great introduction to gaming as well as computer programming skills. STEAM focuses on games developed by and for young adults.

For many more examples, go to the Creativity Tools page in my Electronic Materials course.

Digital Collections

Many wonderful online collections are available. Many of these collections can be used by youth.

For many more examples, go the Game, Image, Audio, and Video Collections pages in my Electronic Materials course.

Accessing Electronic Materials

Traditionally, subject guides included print materials such as books, pamphlets, brochures, maps, photographs, and primary source documents. In the 70s and 80s, the word pathfinder became associated with bibliographies that included both print and nonprint materials such as audios, videos, filmstrips, transparencies, and kits. In the 90s, pathfinders began to include links to online resources such as websites, electronic database, and other outside resources. Today, they also include mobile apps and social media resources.

Today, a pathfinder includes all the resources that students or library patrons might find useful from primary source documents to the email addresses of local community members. It might contain Dewey Decimal numbers to locate materials in the library or URLs to find materials on the Internet. In addition, it could include phone numbers, addresses, and email contacts for experts who might be able to address specific questions related to a topic.

Free website services such as Weebly can be used to create professional-quality pathfinders. Increasingly, libraries are paying for a subscription to LibGuides which provides an environment for creating these guides.

Another option is to use a curation tool such as Scoop.it, Delicious, or Pinterest to organize ideas along with a website builder like GoogleSites.

Pathfinders can be simple such as a one-page overview of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the multiple tab exploration of the books, movies, and author of the Harry Potter series. Or, a pathfinder can be very detailed with multiple pages such as the Genealogy Research pathfinder.

Many schools, libraries, and organizations now maintain a collection of pathfinders on a wide range of topics.

Planning Pathfinders

Audience. Begin by considering the needs of your audience. What are their experiences, interests, and language requirements? What's their developmental and reading level?

Need. Think about the interests, desires, and needs of youth. What does the audience need in terms of background information, resources, ideas, and support?

Design. Create an online resource that is attractive and engaging for your young audience. The "look and feel" should be appropriate for children or young adults. Keep in mind that teens think of themselves as sophisticated. However, they may be lacking in knowledge and skills.

Approaches. Think about how information will be presented. Will the resource be used as a research guide, learning tool, or leisure environment? Organize information in a way that's logical for the users.

Selecting Resources

Just as you need to carefully select materials you purchase, you also need to be systematic in your website and app recommendations.

Unique Materials. Seek out materials that supplement rather than duplicate the materials already available in your library. Encourage users to enjoy both physical and virtual resources.

Age Appropriate. Many apps and online resources aren't designed specifically for youth. Before putting an item on your pathfinder, think about whether the users have the background information and entry skills to successfully use the resource.

Reading Level. Children will be frustrated by resources that are beyond their reading level. When writing the introduction and other materials for your pathfinder, talk directly to young users. Use short sentences and vocabulary that they'll understand. Provide a glossary and list of key words to ensure that they are successful with the topic.

Multi-media Approach. Text, visuals, audio, and video are all important ways to convey information. Seek out materials with different channels of communications. This is particularly important for young readers who lack reading fluency. Rather than providing links, try embedding video, audio, animation, and widgets.

Special Needs. Consider the cognitive and physical challenges facing youth. When possible, provide alternatives for those with visual challenges and other special needs.

Creating Pathfinders

Pathfinders can contain a wide range of elements. Consider each of the following ideas when selecting components to include in your pathfinder.

Introduction. It's essential to kick off a pathfinder with an engaging introduction that will attract youth. Consider using a video such as a book trailer and an image such as a photograph or cartoon. Use the introduction to define the scope of the pathfinder and the intended audience.

Annotations. For each item on your resource list be sure to provide a citation and annotation that details the reading level, types of illustrations, ease of use, contents, and reasons why it will be useful. If you provide a link, be sure it's active. Sometimes you want to include directions for using particular websites or resources. For example, you might take users step-by-step through searching a reference resource or database. Some electronic resources are restricted to local users. In many cases a password or local library card is needed.

Keywords and Search Strategies. Beyond the resources you list, be sure to provide ideas for how youth can locate additional resources. What keywords would you suggest? What search engines might be useful? What databases might contain good information?

Activity Ideas. Think about ways to incorporate or encourage effective use of the resources in the pathfinder. For example, you might suggest activities or projects that might contribute to the learning experience. Or, list essential questions associated with the material or pose interesting dilemmas.

Advice. Provide ideas for people doing research on this topic. Is there anything you could suggest in terms of things to look for or avoid?

Contact Information. Be sure to include your contact information so people can email you with ideas and suggestions for improvement!

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Explore the Pathfinders Project page from my Electronic Materials course. It contains some great pathfinder examples. Think about how you could build pathfinders to help youth access library resources.


Another approach to accessing and using library resources is the WebQuest. Think about how online resources can contribute to learning. Rather than giving students a traditional assignment such as “locate information about a topic and write a term paper”, take an inquiry-based approach to learning. Ask students to question the world around them. Design motivating activities with a meaningful task and specific products that ask students to apply Internet information to the production of a poster, brochure, demonstration, or debate.

WebQuests provide an authentic, technology-rich environment for problem solving, information processing, and collaboration. This inquiry-based approach to learning involves students in a wide range of activities that make good use of Internet-based resources. Rather than spending substantial time using search tools, most or all of the information used by learners is found on pre-selected websites. Students can then focus on using web-based information to analyze, synthesis, and evaluate information to address high-level questions.

WebQuests all share the same basic elements. Critical attributes of a WebQuest include:

Non-critical attributes included group activities, motivational elements, and interdisciplinary approaches.

try itTry It!
Explore the WebQuest Project page from my Electronic Materials course. It contains lots of WebQuest examples. To learn more, go to the WebQuest page.

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