September’s Press Release

Summer sessions wrap up and fall trainings begin for App Authors project


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

Champaign, IL (September 26, 2018)—After finishing up another successful summer program at the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library, the App Authors project now moves onto facilitating curriculum training in several schools and libraries throughout Illinois.

This past summer, App Authors implemented a seven-week program designed to give young participants a chance to explore, play, and create their own apps through a child-centered curriculum. Similar to last year’s program, these sessions helped participants learn about algorithms, loops, conditionals, functions, variables, and debugging through “unplugged” lessons, coding lessons, and app creation.

The project has seen success at several sites, including those in Champaign, Alaska, Maryland, and Oregon. Particularly exciting now is the public launch of the App Authors curriculum on Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons at, in a clear and shareable format. The curriculum provides lesson plans and app development activities that can be used in a seven-week sequential course, in a seven-week semi-sequential course, or in one-time learning sessions.

“The curriculum gets better every time we teach it,” says Deborah Stevenson, PI of the project and director of the Center for Children’s Books. “We’ve been especially gratified at family participation in the recent public library iteration; siblings and parents have been teaching and learning alongside our target participants, and kids who’ve started a session uncertain about coding have been thrilled to develop real confidence and competence.”

Beyond the online curriculum, App Authors staff will be providing trainings for several schools in Illinois, and programs will continue to run at current and new sites.

This is the third phase of the CCB’s App Authors: Closing the App Gap three-year project, which addresses the income-related disparity in young people’s access to technology by bringing it to them in public and school libraries. We have fulfilled our goal of building a curriculum for coding apps in in school and public libraries and have repeated the program at venues across the country, allowing us to reach hundreds of children directly and to refine a program that other libraries can adopt for their own use. We have received a no-cost extension and will be training a new cohort of librarians to lead sessions through 2019. 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.

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.


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

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