A few months ago I was presenting to a group of parents, educators and administrators on proven reading strategies for students with learning disorders. Focusing on tech tools, I discussed the ability to filter Google Search results by reading level, iOS Accessibility features, such as voiceover and speak selection, and Read and Write for Google.
One trick that I mentioned seemed to get more of an enthusiastic response than I thought it would – getting your children reading more at home by checking out eBooks through your local public library. Living in Charlotte, most people have a free library card, but don’t fully utilize the digital downloads offerings because it’s somewhat foreign and doesn’t follow the traditional physical check out check in process that we are used to with paperback and hardcover books. Like many other public libraries, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library offers digital downloads for their members.
Since my family and I love to devour books, we spend a lot of time at the library, but not in the way that you might imagine. My husband and I work full-time as educators and have small, school-aged children. Like most people, we are quite busy and don’t spend as much time frequenting the library as we would like. Purchasing ebooks from the iBookstore and Kindle books is an option, but can get expensive as the cost of those books adds up over time. Therefore to keep ourselves exposed to many genres and titles of books and not break the bank, we often use an app called OverDrive, which gives us the ability to check in and check out books without ever leaving our homes. We still enjoy our trips to the library, but in the mean time we can check out eBooks for FREE on our devices.
Many public libraries are now offering different digital downloads platforms, such as Freading, Hoopla and One Click Digital, but we prefer to use OverDrive because it can be used with so many devices and it’s a FREE download. We use iOS devices, so for this walkthrough I will demonstrate with an iPhone, but if you have an Android Device or even a Windows PC, you can use OverDrive and participate in the eCheckout process.
Here is the process that we use when checking out ebooks:
1. Download and open the OverDrive Media Console v3 app
(Click the picture to view full size)
2. Tap on Add a library to find a library by name, city or postal code. You can even browse for libraries. You must have a library card number for the library you select!
3. Sign into your library account by entering your library card number.
4. My six year old was reading Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin to her 5 year old brother this morning and noticed that Duck for President was another title suggested on the back cover. We have all of Doreen Cronin’s books, but wanted to see if we could borrow the digital version. We simply searched using the author’s first and last name and three of her book titles came up in the results. The first book, Diary of a Worm had a headset on the top right hand corner of the book, which indicated that it is an audiobook. Because the headset was grayed out, the file was checked out by another user and we only had the option to place a hold.
5.We noticed that Duck for President and Giggle, Giggle, Quack were available in audiobook format, so we tapped on the “borrow” button and then chose “Download MP3 audiobook.”
6. Once the book downloaded, we tapped on the three horizontal lines in the top left corner and then “Bookshelf” and saw the book sitting on our shelf. We simply tapped on the book and then tapped play to listen to the audio recording.
7. We browsed and found that there was a good selection of Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne. So we selected one on dinosaurs and saw that the book icon indicated that it was an ebook versus an audiobook. We tapped on the book and had the option to read the book in Safari. The other option was to read the EPUB version of the book within the OverDrive app. However, in order to use the app to read an EPUB file you will be prompted to authorize with a free Adobe ID. Once you login with this ID you will not need to login again.
8. Once you’ve authorized your Adobe ID, go back to your bookshelf to find the ebook.
9. I’m a big fan of the iBooks app because of the ability to bookmark, highlight, define words and add sticky notes. The OverDrive Media Console v3 app is not identical to the iBooks app, but it comes pretty close! The console offers the ability to sync bookmarks and libraries across devices, set the variable-speed playback, define words, adjust reader settings such as page hue, brightness and font and even share via social media.
10. The Search by Creator option allowed us to see more eBooks by Mary Pope Osborne that were available for checkout.
Overall, we love the ability to check out ebooks from our local library. Keep in mind that there are many digital formats offered and some of the books that you are searching for will either be unavailable or only come in one format.
eLending options vary by library, but mine allows you to check out up to 10 titles of eBooks/AudioBooks for 7, 14 or 21 days. You can set your default lending period within OverDrive’s settings. According to OverDrive’s site, they offer more than 1,000,000 digital titles with a catalog that includes all genres and includes many of the top bestsellers. Each public library can choose it’s own customized digital collection, so you won’t find every book in OverDrive’s catalog. There are many times we search for a book and can’t find it in eBook/AudioBook format or we have to place a hold because it’s “checked out.” Most OverDrive titles are limited to one user at a time, but you can place a hold and will receive an email notification when the book is available.
Press and hold on a book in your bookshelf. Returning a book removes it from your device and sends it back to the library so someone else can borrow it. You can return audiobooks and Adobe EPUBs. Open EPUB eBooks cannot be currently be returned, so the option won’t show up for those books. Deleting a book removes it from your device, but it’ll stay on your library’s bookshelf so you can download it again later during the lending period. Once the lending period for a book expires, it will be automatically returned to your library.
I have found that they key to getting my children excited about reading is to offer a variety of titles and genres for them to choose from. Having an eLibrary full of free books available for instant downloading makes this possible!