Increasingly, our patrons are asking about downloadable ebooks and audiobooks for children. You can search our online catalog for downloadable materials, and when you connect to our partner provider - Indiana Digital Media (also known as Overdrive) -- you can further limit your search to juvenile materials. These items can then be downloaded to a number of different mobile devices.
Many parents and teachers have also turned to TumbleBooks, an online collection of animated picture books and "read-along" chapter books, as another way to access ebooks for children. Available for free through the library's website, TumbleBooks offers a variety of fiction and nonfiction titles especially for young children. (Find a link to TumbleBooks on the right side of the Children's Services home page: mcpl.info/childrens .)
You cannot download TumbleBooks stories to read offline later. However, you can now read and view these stories directly from a mobile device with wireless access. TumbleBooks responded to the growing popularity of iPads by reformatting a number of titles so they can be viewed on the iPad. (The stories were originally animated using the Flash plug-in, which is not compatible with the iPad.) Now, when you use an iPad or iPhone to access the TumbleBooks Library, the TumbleBooks website automatically directs you to their site for Mobile Devices and features stories that have been reformatted as Quicktime videos which can be viewed with these devices.
Don't get turned off by the video format before you give it a try. The words display on the screen so that children can follow along and each sentence is highlighted as it is read aloud. Beginner readers especially benefit from hearing stories read fluently and expressively, as this helps to develop their own fluency skills.
TumbleBooks cautions that their Library for Mobile Devices is still in development. It does not offer all the features and options that the original site currently provides. The original site includes chapter books that the reader can choose to read on their own, or choose to have the story read aloud. And, you can search the complete collection in a variety of ways, including by subject, reading level, or language (English, French or Spanish).
But TumbleBooks assures that "in the next few weeks, visitors to the site will see new content for all of the categories - including new educational games, quizzes and book reports built specifically for the iPad and mobile platform. Every TumbleBook in the Story Book, Language Learning and Nonfiction categories will be converted to an iPad compatible format. All the National Geographic videos - and the books they are paired with - also will be available in the new site for Mobile Devices."
So follow along as the ebook options for children continue to grow. Let us know what you think, and how we can best help you find the stories - in whatever format - that meet the needs and interests of young readers.