Great Interactive Software for Kids List (HISTORICAL)

About the Great Interactive Software for Kids List
The Great Interactive Software for Kids list identifies exemplary computer software and multi-platform media for children currently available.

Administered by:

Association for Library Service to Children logo

Award and Frequency

Recognition of media chosen for this award is made via publication of the list on the ALSC web site and announcement of the list in a press release.
This award is not currently being given out.

Application Instructions

To submit works for consideration by ALSC's Great Interactive Software for Kids Committee:

Review the terms and criteria for the Great Interactive Software Committee to see if your work is eligible.  If you are unsure if your work is eligible, please go ahead and submit it to the committee.

Submit one copy of the work with a completed submission form to the Chair and, if possible, a copy of the work to each committee member so that all may have a chance to review it prior to the deadline.

Also send one copy of the work to the ALSC office with a completed submission form (Attn: GISK Submission, 50 East Huron, Chicago, IL 60611-2795).

GISK lists are created semi-annually. Deadlines for submitting works are May 1 and December 1 of the publication year.

Contact Information

Displaying active committee roster as of 09/16/2014. Last retrieved on 09/16/2014. Members can log in to view full contact information for committee members.

Selection Criteria

The Great Interactive Software for Kids Committee recognizes that electronic resources are integral to a child's growth and knowledge both in the schools and in public libraries. They are not only an increasingly important information tool but they also promote the natural tendency of children to explore and learn by fostering self-motivation, a sense of accomplishment, and individual decision making.

Library services for children should include access to computers and other developing computer technology. Children's collections should contain  software programs, and interactive digital forms.  Overall these programs should be balanced in subjects, age ranges, levels of difficulty, and type of programs.

The Great Interactive Software for Kids Committee works to identify high-quality multi-platform computer programs and digital media currently available.

Specific Evaluation Considerations

In terms of content, a program, digital download, or console game should be accurate, non-stereotyped, non-violent, and age appropriate. That is, the same criteria used to judge the content of other materials, e.g. books, should also be applied to software.

Electronic media and software should use the full sound, graphics, and memory capability of the computer, console, or platform to completely and imaginatively meet its goals.

The purpose of the program, console game, or download, whether explicitly stated or implied in the structure, should be clearly defined and match its stated goals.

Furthermore, software or multi-platform media should be well paced, user controlled, and allow for easy internal movement. When appropriate, there should be a large and random item pool. On-screen directions facilitate use of the program. It is very important that it acknowledges correct answers and provides help for users who give wrong answers. If the program is on going, it should allow users to save work from one time to the next. A variety of levels of difficulty enhances the program. Where appropriate, the program should allow for either single or multiple users.

If necessary, manuals should be packaged with submissions or available online for download.  They should be clear and precise, attractive, illustrating sample screens. The publisher should offer upgrade options, information on copy protection, and network licenses and requirements to run, including whether the program can run with or without the disk in the hard drive.

Programs and digital content which are simple drill-and-response usually, do not fully utilize the capabilities of the computer will not be considered by this committee.

Potential Subjects

There is a great variety in the subjects appropriate for software for children. Language arts programs can emphasize letters, words, and sentences or creative writing. Interactive fiction seems particularly suited to the computer. Other successful programs are based on mathematics, science and technology, history, geography, music or art and drawing.

Independent of the subject matter, digital media, console games, and software can emphasize logic and conceptual skills, such as reasoning, sorting or problem solving. Other programs allow users to create or manipulate databases or use the item pool to construct and print a product. Programming or keyboard skills are taught by some software.

Age Guidelines

The committee recognizes the following characteristics of children at different ages. These are general guidelines and individual children or groups of children may differ. These characteristics are stated here for purposes of clarification.

Preschool children (ages 2-4) require a program that is very interactive and may require the assistance of an adult.

Primary children (ages 5-8) often need the assistance of an adult, especially to get started, and some beginning knowledge of reading is helpful.

Intermediate children (ages 9-12) need little adult assistance and have good reading skills.

Junior high students (ages 13-14) require no adult assistance and can benefit from challenging adult-level content.