Beyond Books, Book Reviews, Picture Books, Raising Readers, Resources
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Library Loans: Late Fees and Summer Camp


We are eventually going to do our first summer camp next month.  But in the meantime, I have been looking for ways to get my kids involved in something besides our same-old-same-old.  Without having to take out a second mortgage.

Enter I love Tennis by Naia Bray-Moffatt, a Dorothy Kindersley Book, which carries all the charm and fun of a typical DK book.  Filled with lots of action photos and minimal text, my kids have enjoyed this kids’ book on tennis, as well as DK books on ice-skating, swimming, gymnastics, and horse-back riding.  Sadly, some have gone out of print, but many live on in your local library….which is where we found our copy of I love Tennis.

Aside from the wonderful photos, perhaps the best quality is that the main text is accompanied by short descriptions under each of the smaller pictures.  As you follow a group of children through their first tennis lesson to the completion of their first level, you can spend as much time or as little reading detailed descriptions of their movements and games.

We were actually so impressed by how much fun the kids were having–and by the number of beginner games described–that I felt I could recreate a lot of the lessons for my own kids.  Which is why we’re headed right now to have our own tennis camp!  I can imagine other families like ours using the material for their own lessons, and I can see how teenagers who may have had a few lessons could pick up this book to create their own tennis camp for neighborhood kids.  (And in that case, maybe those library late fees would actually be worth it!)


Last week, I compiled a list of some kids’ book classics available for free on the web.  (If you haven’t seen it, I’ll put a link at the bottom of this page so you can dash on over.)  It’s a good list, to the best of my knowledge, but as one reader pointed out in the comments of the post, sometimes free audiobooks at these sites are FANTASTIC…while other times, they are NOT so fantastic.

The alternative for cash-strapped families seems to be ye good-old-library, where you can check out 25 books for free and then four weeks later bring them back to a mere $15 in late fees.  Ok, so I’m not so good at bringing my library books back on time.  But I figure all those late fees are supporting a noble cause, right?

Not anymore.  At least, not with ebooks and audiobooks.  Our library participates in a virtual book loan program called Overdrive, and if you click on that link, you’ll go to a homepage with a search field for participating libraries near you.  If your library isn’t in the loop, you can hopefully find one nearby to join.  It only cost our family $25 annually to join the metro Nashville library when we lived outside Davidson County.

So how does Overdrive work?  First, you download Overdrive software/app through your library onto your computer or reading/listening device.  Next browse through the Overdrive books on your library’s website, and finally, download the ebooks and audiobooks you want.  It’s that simple!  The files are compatible with iphone, ipads, Blackberry OS, Android OS, Nooks, etc…and believe it or not, some libraries offer “device resource centers” where you can rent an ereader to read them!  (But I don’t even want to know what the late fees would be on one of those…)

At our library, you can choose to check out an ebook or audiobook for 1 week, 2 weeks, or 3 weeks, and at the end of your loan, the file will no longer open on your device.  You’ll have to check the book out again in order to open it. Sadly, there are a limited number of loans for each digital book, and if you don’t recheck the book out quickly enough, someone else may get it first…then you’ll find yourself waiting your turn in the Hold line, just like with printed books.

So, it’s not a perfect system, but it is inexpensive…and the quality of the books is more consistent than some of the other free options out there.  And maybe with the money I save in late fees, I can afford to buy us some of those EB White audiobooks I told you about in 10 Vacation Audiobooks for the Whole Family.  I should also mention that Overdrive also supports video downloads, but that’s a subject for a different blog.

Know of any other good picture books with uses beyond just flipping through on the couch?  Tell us about them!

For our idea on creative ways to find and use books, see our posts Distance Lending, Cooking Up Fun: Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, and Free Classic ebooks.  Or for a list of some of our favorite posts, hop on over to Dear Reader….

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