Young patrons get own computer
By Pam Reinig
A recent, popular addition to the Elkader Public Library isn’t a best-selling novel. It’s a computer. Specifically, it’s a computer for tots. With its big screen, large keyboard and over-sized keys, it’s perfect for young users. According to Library Director Lisa Wilke Pope, it’s also been a big hit with older children.
“Sometimes we have to encourage the older kids to use the other computers,” Pope said. “But it hasn’t been a big problem. The kids are really good about taking turns.”
Known as an early literacy station, the new computer was pre-loaded with several educational programs. The programs feature characters that are familiar to kids like Dora the Explorer and the whole Sesame Street gang. The software package covers curricular areas like math, science, nature and music and art. No Internet connection is needed to use the computer, making it safe and secure.
Pope calls the computer one of the most kid-friendly she’s ever seen. The unit has a touch screen that allows users to select the program or learning game they want. The keys are brightly colored and are organized by function. For example, the vowels are purple, the consonants are blue and the number keys are red.
One of the more popular programs is the interactive, read-with-me program that has three separate functionalities. Youngsters choose a favorite title like “Jack in the Beanstalk,” “Chicken Little,” “The Three Little Pigs” and “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The computer can “read” the story to the child. It can also read the story while highlighting words, which helps kids develop early word recognition skills. Youngsters can also read the story without any assistance from the computer.
The early literacy station is the results of a three-way partnership between the Friends of the Library, the library and library patron Vanita Thomsen. Thomsen wanted to make a donation to the library in memory of her late husband, Tom Monk, and honoring her son, Travis, who recently completed his doctoral degree.
“I didn’t want to give a book,” she said. “I wanted something a bit more substantial. Jill (Sanders, former librarian), has seen the kids’ computer and thought it would be a great addition to our library. I’m glad it’s getting a lot of use.”