Every year around this time, I’m faced with the same problem: Dozens of high school students are flocking to my library in search of their required reading for AP English classes, and even though I’m lucky enough to have two sets of shelves in my teen space set aside for these books, there never seem to be enough copies. When print copies run out, I can always direct the teens to electronic collections, but what happens when those copies are also checked out?
Last month, an article presented a potential solution when it introduced me to an app called Serial Reader. I interested in the claim that Serial Reader would let me “conquer the classics in ten minutes a day.” To get started, I downloaded the free version of the app to my iPad to try. I was then prompted to subscribe to a book from their extensive list of classic and public domain titles and set a daily delivery time. I chose Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and for the next ten days, Serial Reader sent me a section of the book that I could read in an average of ten minutes (some sections took a bit longer, but none were longer than fifteen minutes). The app synced my progress across my devices, so I could start a section during a break at work on my smartphone and finish it later on my tablet at home. By the end of ten days, I had read all of Common Sense. Continue reading App Review: Serial Reader
Neko Atsume is a “cat collecting” IOS and Android game that has, quite literally, taken over the world. I defy you to find a child, a teen, a millennial, or an adult that has NOT played or at the very least heard of this phenomenon. You can find these cuddly kitties everywhere! They have their own cafes, their own toys, their own specials places in our hearts. I know I can’t go a day without taking care of mine. And I’m still working on collecting a few of those pesky rare ones!
We all have our favorite social media apps. According to the 2015 Pew Center report on teens and technology, 72% of all teens spend time with friends on social media. Of these teens, 23% do it daily. Texting is still the top activity for teens, but messaging apps are also popular with 42% of teens using apps such as Kik and WhatsApp and 14% use these types of app every day.
Since Teen Tech Week will be celebrated March 6-12, I asked some of the youth services librarians in my area what apps the teens in their libraries are currently obsessed with. I know their tastes change pretty quickly so what’s popular now may not be popular in six months. Therefore, I was a bit surprised to find that they are using a lot of the same apps that have been popular for a while now but I also learned about some new ones too.
In my request from my colleagues, I didn’t specify what kind of app suggestions I wanted so, unsurprisingly, more of the answers fell into the texting or micro-blogging category, when what I really wanted was gaming apps. I admit I haven’t spent as much time as I probably should playing gaming apps so, a number of these were new to me, although they may not be to you.
The most frequently mentioned gaming app that seems to be all the rage right now is Stop. It’s a fun categories word game app you can play against others. You randomly select a letter to start and type a word for each of the 5 different categories that start with that letter. The player that gets most correct words wins. There are categories for Star Wars, superheroes and many others.
A number of librarians said that they and their teens were obsessed with Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector, the Japanese cat collecting game. The game’s very simple. The goal is to leave food and toys in your virtual backyard to attract cats – over 40 of them – all with their own unique looks and personality. Most of the cats are ordinary cats, but there are some rare cats too, but in order to get them to come, you need to lure them with special items. I first saw a colleague playing it last year and, although I prefer dogs to cats, it looked so adorable that I began playing it too. It’s quite addictive. In Japan they’ve had live-action recreations of the game that you can watch on YouTube.
Another popular Japanese game is the free Alpaca Evolution app. I’ve never played it but it sounds fun, although very strange. You are an alpaca that mutates and consumes other alpacas. As you consume other alpacas you evolve and mutate into something stronger and stranger. Every time you evolve you get a new description of your new form. It doesn’t require a lot of skill, but it’s a lot of fun seeing what disturbing alpaca monstrosity you evolve into next. An in-game encyclopedia explains each of your new forms in bizarre detail, rating your strength and giving you a bunch of useless vital statistics.