Liv has developed a big interest in audiobooks as of late. One of my favorite ways for her to spend her ‘quiet time’ while Taylor and Marley nap is for her to snuggle in her bed or on the couch and to open up a new book to enjoy. The crazy thing is – we just discovered OverDrive.
Previously, we’ve borrowed CDs from the library or have streamed podcasts for audio story telling. Not altogether a bad plan but the two limitations were the crazy high fines when CDs were accidentally returned late (maybe $1/day?) and podcast stories for kids are usually very short and hit or miss on content.
But! A friend mentioned OverDrive and we’ve been giving it a go. If you’re not familiar with the app, it’s the chosen public library distribution tool for over 2 million book titles from 5,000+ publishers. By downloading the app on your tablet or phone (and by using your library card as your registration), you can ‘borrow’ titles to listen to via wifi or to download for listening on a car trip. Like borrowing books at the library, you’ll eventually have to ‘return’ your audiobook (by electronically turning it back in). But it’s pretty convenient! I think that it’s available through almost all public libraries?? I know that our little neighborhood library is not listed on the OverDrive map but I have just linked our ‘home’ library as the next closest and you could probably do the same if yours wasn’t either.
I can’t even begin to share how helpful audiobooks can be for mini breaks throughout the day. Even with a morning school program and plenty of weekly activities, afternoons can feel like a long stretch of playtime. We have recently been relying on ‘quiet time’ about half way through the day while Taylor (and possibly Marley) nap to rejuvenate all of that energy.
Intel recently gave us an HP Stream 7 and it has almost exclusively become Liv’s quiet time tool. We are exploring educational websites and games, but mostly she’s been reading and listening to books.
I hope that the library will continue to expand their audiobook selection. There are plenty of titles but I can see us moving through them quickly! I’ve started Liv on books that OverDrive categorizes as appropriate for kids ages preschool through kindergarten. I think that once she gets the hang of listening to shorter books we can move on to chapter books like The Boxcar Children and Magic Treehouse (so excited for that).
A few hints for navigating OverDrive (because I must admit that it didn’t seem to be the most user-friendly interface when we first downloaded the app): filter books by ‘Audiobook’ and ‘Reading Level’ in the left hand navigation bar under ‘Children’s Fiction’. A small book icon appears for reading books and a headset icon for audiobooks (if you haven’t filtered by one or the other). A grey headset implies that the book has been ‘checked out’ by others – you can put the title on hold – and a black headset indicate that a book is available to ‘borrow’. This seems like a silly restriction but I’m guessing it has to do with the number of licenses that public libraries have for different titles. There’s also a filter for ‘Available Now’ to see only black headphone books, but I kind of like seeing all that are available so that I can place a hold on books that we haven’t read yet (we’re notified via email when we can check them out on our Stream). That last shot above is displaying ‘your bookshelf’ which is the easiest way to stay on top of the books you’ve borrowed.
Sorry about the blownout photos, very hard to capture the screen without a terrible glare.
Summer break begins today around our house and this is one more tool for the ole’ toolbox for myself and her sitters during the day to help keep everyone happy and engaged. I LOVE this solution for long car rides too (Liv gets super car sick so shows are a no-go), sometimes we’ll listen to a book over the speakers of the car and sometimes Liv just puts on headphones and zones out while she looks out the window.
Do you use tablets as a form of education/entertainment? We’re sort of new to this but we’ve been discovering new apps everyday that make the process a lot more fun.
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