Dora the Explorer. She is what made Transliteracy click for me. Personally, I can do without the animated child who shouts at her viewers with a forced sense of enthusiasm, but there are thousands…nay, millions of kids in the world who see Dora through much different eyes.
For years now, children have known Dora through the TV show, books, music albums, movies & website games not to mention the kazillions of other Dora merchandise from birthday cake toppers to backpacks. To children, Dora transcends format. She is ubiquitous in a way. If they use a form of media, they can find Dora on it. Yes, this now includes our fancy smartphones. Dora is even on FOURSQUARE!
When these Dora loving children walk into our public libraries, where can they find her? They may want to borrow a Dora DVD, a book (if yours carries them) and they probably want to get on the computers to play some Dora games (how easy is it for a preschooler to do that?).
But, I am only talking about input measures here. Kids are able to understand, interpret & read Dora’s stories through all of these different medias, not to mention telling the stories through their own imaginative play. Technology now empowers kids to explore the other side of Transliteracy – output measures.
Like them or not, branded toys & media can be a springboard for children to take ideas and imagination further, developing 21st Century skills along the way. With a little imagination and freedom, kids can take a story or character they enjoy and bring it into their own world, affecting & changing it. They can choose from many tech tools to create & share content with the world that centers around the original story.
Harry Potter is a great example of this. HP fans make music, write stories, create posters & videos, play role playing games (heard of the International Quiddich Association?) and even attend Harry Potter conventions. There are countless examples of kids and teens creating content inspired by simply reading this series of books.
Technology has given kids a freedom to create the ability to share what they create. There are over 470,000 HP stories on one fan fiction site alone! They aren’t doing it for an assignment, they aren’t doing it because their parents thought it would be good for their college applications, they do it because they love it and because they can.
This is Transliteracy in action.
The old service model in children’s libraries was input only (sit quietly & listen to the story, kid!). Now, we have the opportunity in libraries to engage with kids in the output side of their Transliterate experience. Libraries can provide opportunities to help them develop new skills, to share their creations & to have more of a dialogue with our kids and their parents. I’m excited to sink my teeth into this concept at my library – aren’t you?