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Institute of Museum and Library Services

The focus of this three-year, multisite project is development of app-based curricula and tools for use in school and public libraries. These tools will teach children aged eight to twelve how to build their own apps, providing them with early programming experience, and allow them to share their creations with other children. The project further establishes libraries as places to engage youth in STEM exploration and digital development that reflects their own experiences.

This project builds on a project conducted with support from a planning-phase grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services titled, "Closing the App Gap." 

“The App Authors project is an exciting expansion...

University of Illinois Research Board

This project expands Tilley’s investigation of comics from the perspective of readers, a much-neglected group in both contemporary and historical research. Comics readership among young people peaked in the mid-twentieth century with levels reaching near 100%, yet there has been little scholarly investigation of this phenomenon. Funding for this project will enable archival research trips and hourly research support to complete data collection necessary for a single-author monograph that will provide a coherent examination of the social and cultural role of comics in United States’s children’s print culture throughout the twentieth century.


Mapping Information Access is a collaborative academic research project to study and understand the landscape of information access and availability in public schools and libraries in the United States.

There are more than 18,000 public school districts and more than 9,000 public library systems in the US. Each of these institutions is as a central node of information access for the communities they serve. Administrators must balance ideals of free speech and information with concerns about social norms, age-appropriateness, and budgets. These decisions then shape the flow of information to students, patrons, and other constituents. Yet the contours of this flow are not well understood. There exists no comprehensive record of the sorts of challenges faced, or decisions made,...


This project examines writers who represent education as an embodied experience, with learning and literacy grounded in what they called “object learning” or “the education of things.” Denouncing rote-learning in favor of an induction method, object lessons promised to coordinate the development of body and mind by using the pupil’s senses as a catalyst for higher cognitive thought. Children place themselves above the elements composing their environment, which they control through what Hoiem calls “mechanical literacy”—that is, by learning the dependable laws governing how things are sensed, manipulated, created, purchased, manufactured, and exchanged. The project mobilizes a uniquely diverse archive of material and print cultures—pedagogical treatises, radical newspapers, automaton...


Picture books, such as those in the Marantz Collection (Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science), play an important role in developing literacy in our library users—from traditional literacy (as it relates to reading), to visual literacy, to cultural literacy. Exposing patrons of all ages to the messages contained in children’s literature can have lasting and beneficial effects, and can shape how readers view the world. It is for this reason that it is vitally important to examine the social justice messages that exist in the current literature and to advocate for even more social justice and diversity in the world of picture books. Per her interests in incorporating social justice into LIS pedagogy, Cooke will look for the messages contained in the texts (e.g...


Feb. 28, 2017
Doctoral student Melissa Hahn helps a Kenwood Elementary School student build an app. (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer)

Students at Kenwood Elementary School in Champaign are building their own phone apps. Some hope their apps will help solve big problems, such as curbing pollution or money management. Others will let users fight monsters that are trying to take over the world, or let users design a look for their nails.

Through an after-school program called App Authors, the students are getting an idea of what the career of a software designer might be like, as well as gaining experience in coding and learning to work as a team to solve problems.

The program was designed by researchers at the iSchool. The goal is to get students – especially those with limited access to technology...

Jan. 31, 2017

Weekends with Max and His Dad, written by Linda Urban and illustrated by Katie Kath, and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is the winner of the 2017 Gryphon Award for Children’s Literature. The Gryphon Award, which includes a $1,000 prize, is given annually by The Center for Children's Books (CCB). This year's committee was chaired by Assistant Professor Deborah Stevenson, CCB director, and Kate Quealy-Gainer, assistant editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

The prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding English-language work of fiction or nonfiction, for which the primary audience is children in kindergarten through fourth grade...

Jan. 10, 2017

The staff at The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (BCCB) has announced the 2016 Blue Ribbons, their choices for the best of children's and young adult literature for the year. Blue Ribbons are chosen annually by BCCB reviewers and represent what they believe to be outstanding examples of fiction, nonfiction, and picture books for youth. Thirty-three titles received Blue Ribbons for 2016; the full list is available on the BCCB website.

According to BCCB editor Deborah Stevenson, "This year's list runs the gamut from hilarious picture books to pulse-pounding true tales of history to captivating takes on classic folktales. What's not to love about a lineup that includes samurais, bears dealing with bedtime, and Baba Yaga?"

Founded in 1945, BCCB is one of the nation's leading children's book review journals for...

Nov. 16, 2016

Assistant Professor Emily Knox will participate in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention, to be held November 17-20 in Atlanta, Georgia. The convention attracts thousands of authors, advocates, and literacy educators and offers more than 700 concurrent sessions.

Knox will serve as a panelist for the session, "How Teachers, Parents, and Communities Can Keep Students Reading." The panel will address the question of how teachers can keep students reading in the face of censorship challenges to books they have assigned or recommended.  Through its theme, "Faces of Advocacy," the convention will explore the role of educators as advocates for their students, communities, and profession.

"I'll be discussing my research on why people challenge books and the final project that my students complete in my class, in which they create a portfolio responding to a challenge scenario," Knox said...

Nov. 14, 2016

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books has released the 2016 Guide Book to Gift Books. This annual publication, available as a free downloadable pdf, highlights more than three hundred of the best books for giving and receiving. 

The Guide Book is organized by age group for easier access to the right books for a particular recipient: Picture Books, Books for Young Readers (Grades 1-3; 6-8 years), Books for Middle Readers (Grades 4-6; 9-11 years), and Books for Older Readers (Grades 7-12; 12-18 years). The guide offers a broad range of styles, genres, subjects, and challenge levels. 

"We've seen some truly amazing books in the last few years, and the Guide Book to Gift Books is our way of letting people know how many wonderful titles are out there just waiting to get to the right young person," said...

Sep. 28, 2016

Assistant Professor Nicole A. Cooke is a founding member of the advisory board for Our Voices, a new American Library Association (ALA) initiative that seeks to increase diversity in the production and distribution of children’s books. Sponsored by ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom and Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, Our Voices offers interested libraries a template to promote the growth of diverse, quality content in library collections. The initiative is being launched during Banned Books Week, September 25-October 1.

"Working with the Our Voices is an absolute pleasure and is among the most important work I’ve done with the American Library Association," said Cooke. "It's such a great group—librarians, booksellers, and publishers—all of whom are passionate about seeing more diverse faces and stories in library collections."

Some of the steps Our Voices plans to use in...

Sep. 21, 2016

Music, politics, art, prison justice, comics . . . the topics of zines are as diverse as the individuals creating them. Unlike a traditional magazine, a zine is self-published, small in scale, and more personal. On September 16, iSchool Associate Professor Kathryn La Barre answered questions about zines and her role as caretaker of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) Zine Library on the Harukana Show, a broadcast of UCIMC's radio station WRFU, which is also webcast internationally.

According to La Barre, a number of the zines in the UCIMC Zine Library have only one copy, having been created at UCIMC workshops hosted by the library. Most of the library's 1,500 zines were donated by creators and collectors, but some were acquired at the Midwest Zine Fests hosted by the UCIMC Radical Librarians in 2011, 2012, and 2013.