My children are getting older, and it is becoming more difficult to maintain our library schedule. I started subscribing to online e-book subscription services like Scribd and Kindle Unlimited, so I could always have the next book ready. I soon realized no paid service had all the books my children wanted (this is a good problem to have, I know!), so I had to subscribe to several. Some books didn’t have an e-book version, so I was still logging into my local library website to reserve physical books. During a trip to the library, I discovered e-book subscription services that I could access using my library card. Before you can start using library online services, you need a library card and online account. The account is easy to create, but drop by your local library if you need help.
I have been using a few of the subscription services, and I feel each one has its own strengths.
My favorite is OverDrive (overdrive.com) with more than two million e-books in its catalog as well as audio books, music, and videos. The service works on computers, tablets, and e-readers. Using your library card number, you can check out up to twenty books for up to twenty-one days each. The content includes New York Times bestsellers, classics, and everything in between. In the kids’ and teen sections, my kids have many books on their summer reading lists.
Recently, OverDrive published a new app named Libby, which allows you to access the content in a streamlined interface that feels hipper than OverDrive’s interface. Pro Tip: If you have library cards to more than one library, add them all – the content varies between libraries.
If you ask my children which e-book app they love, they will say Hoopla (hoopladigital.com). I think it’s because Hoopla has a robust comic and graphic novel section that includes traditional books redone in graphic-novel style. My favorite feature of Hoopla is the option to adjust the settings to show only kid-appropriate content which lets me limit the content children can view. Unfortunately, Hoopla limits checkouts to seven a month – which includes movies, music albums, and television shows – so be careful in choosing the seven. Pro Tip: Sign up each of your children for a library card and use it to create her own Hoopla account. Limit accounts to kid-access only and have seven checkouts each.
Freading (freading.com) is another e-book subscription app that works on multiple platforms. It amazes me to see how different its collection is than Overdrive and Hoopla. Click on the Top Downloads link to start judging books by their beautiful covers and see what others are reading. The juvenile fiction section includes books in more than ten world languages, which is a great opportunity to practice language skills. Freading allows users to check out three books a week for a term of two weeks. Not-a-Pro Tip: I have the Freading app on my iPad, but I haven’t figured out how to use it – yet!
In addition to traditional subscription services, the Internet offers numerous free e-book resources. The International Children’s Digital Library (en.childrenslibrary.org) is a government-funded site that offers books from cultures and languages around the world. Project Gutenberg provides more than 57,000 free e-books with a focus on older literature. Another resource is the OpenLibrary (openlibrary.org) which includes classic authors such as Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl.
Here’s my final Pro Tip: If you have an unused tablet such as an iPad, Amazon Fire, or Nook, repurpose it as an e-book reader and take advantage of all that your local library has to offer. I mentioned some of my favorite platforms, but some libraries offer more resources including digital magazines, digital textbooks, and online encyclopedias. Happy reading!