App Authors press release

Students Create Apps in After School Program through the App Authors Project


MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Quealy-Gainer (|217-265-0608)

Champaign, IL (January 18th, 2017)—After the success of the 2016 summer program of App Authors: Closing the App Gap II at the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library, the Center for Children’s Books returns to Kenwood Elementary, where the App Authors curriculum will be offered through the school’s after school Tech Time program. App Authors gives students a chance to explore, play, and eventually create their own apps through a child-centered curriculum that engages participants regardless of experience level and gives kids familiarity with problem solving and the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills.

The seven week program began Wednesday, January 25th, and CCB volunteers and research assistants will be helping Kenwood students, mostly fourth graders, move from predesign, through the construction of their app, and then to the revision process over program’s durations. The curriculum focuses on the play aspect of building apps, using the kids’ own ideas (i.e. a jumping horse, a school day, a nail salon, etc.) as a springboard for their creations and then teaching the students the technical skills to turn their visions into successful apps.

This is the second phase of the CCB’s Closing the App Gap three-year project, which addresses the app gap, the income-related disparity in young people’s access to handheld technology. The project will develop curricula for app-building in school and public libraries, working with Kenwood Elementary through the Champaign School Unit #4 District through the school year and with the Douglass Branch for summer programing, and eventually expanding to include the Frederick County Public Libraries in Frederick, MD and the Springfield Public Library in Springfield, OR, in this coming year. 2018 will see the program repeated at those sites plus two to five new library venues, allowing us to reach hundreds of children directly and to refine a program that other libraries can adopt for their own use. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Center for Children’s Books $248,205 to support the project.

The project is led by Dr. Deborah Stevenson, Director of the Center for Children’s Books, with co-PIs Dr. Kate McDowell, Associate Professor, and Dr. Rachel Magee, Assistant Professor, all at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Center for Children’s Books is a research center devoted to the study of youth, literature, and media. To learn more, visit the App Authors site at, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact Kate Quealy-Gainer at or 217-265-0608 for further information about App Authors.

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