We read aloud a lot in our home because we use living books for school. So when it comes to reading aloud just for fun, I don’t always have the time or the energy. It’s my ideal that the children have one story, that’s not a school book, read aloud to them every day. It’s a lovely idea, inspired by one of my favorite podcasts, the Read-Aloud Revival. But realistically, this never happens. With homeschooling, co-op prep, extra curricula activities, a toddler, and a home to run, I am lucky to manage 2-3 days some weeks. I can only be stretched so far. But a few months ago I discovered a way to attain my lofty read-aloud goals for my children, easily and without burden, by borrowing digital audiobooks from our local library. This in no way replaces snuggling on the couch with the kiddos and reading aloud to them myself. But when I’m strapped for time, I’m thankful for the option. They still get to hear wonderful stories and I get to breathe *wink*.
Borrowing Digital Books from the Library
My county library uses Hoopla to lend digital books. Other libraries use Overdrive. I will talk about what I know about both, but I have less experience with Overdrive since my library doesn’t use it. These are services used in both Australian and American libraries. So my Aussie friends can check out the service as well. My Overdrive example is with a library from Australia. Just remember, like any library, use discernment. This is not an endorsement of every audiobook.
You will need your library card number and pin to borrow from these services. If you have your library card number but not your pin, you can go to your library’s page, click on “My account” at the top of the page, then click “Forgot password/PIN code?” You will be asked to enter your library card number and your pin will be emailed to you.
I discovered Hoopla scrolling down through my library page.
Alternatively, you can go straight to the Hoopla webpage.
You can browse the digital library there, but in order to borrow, you need to log in first by clicking the “Log In” button at the top right of the page. If you are new to Hoopla, you can then sign up by clicking the blue “Sign Up Now” button.
You will then select your library.
Now that you are logged in, you can browse audiobooks, digital books, and movies to your heart’s content. There are categories you can browse to discover the items that you are most interested in. If there is a particular title that you wish to borrow, you can search for it in the search box.
It will then bring up all titles related to your search inquiry. Because I only want audiobooks, I make sure to select “Audiobooks” underneath “FILTER.”
Mary Poppins in the Park is the book I want to borrow. So I simply click on the title.
Then click “Borrow.”
Did I mention that there is a Hoopla app for tablets and smartphones? Because I am borrowing on my iPad, and I have already downloaded the app, it automatically wants me to open the audiobook through the app.
After clicking “Open in App,” the Hoopla app is automatically opened ready for me to play my newly borrowed audiobook, Mary Poppins in the Park. Click play and enjoy! This will stream the audiobook over the internet.
If you want to listen to the audiobook without an internet connection, you can download the audiobook to your device to listen to it whenever you want. The title will automatically leave your device after the 21 day borrowing period. No more overdue fees! To download the audiobook you simply click on the cloud icon at the top right of the page. An orange progress bar will track across the screen to let you know when it is downloaded. This is wonderful for those long road trips.
You can find all your borrowed items in the “MY TITLES” section.
I will attempt to explain how to borrow audiobooks using Overdrive, but as I said, I have no experience borrowing using this service since I don’t have an account with a library that uses it. From what I can see, the principles are essentially the same, but the interface (how it looks) is slightly different. Hopefully this will be enough explanation to get you going.
The first step is to go to the Overdrive webpage or download the app and sign up. I found the iPad app the easiest. The browser experience may look slightly different.
Once signed up, follow the prompts to swipe right.
Click “Add a Library.”
Type in a city name, postal/zip code, or library name. I searched for a library near Rowville, Australia—a familiar city to me.
Overdrive found Rowville library. Click on the library name.
Rowville library is part of the Eastern Regional Libraries system. Click on it.
Now I have selected my library that is connected with Overdrive, I am free to browse or search for titles in the search box at the top right of the screen. I tried to search for Mary Poppins, but sadly, this library system didn’t have Mary Poppins available as an audiobook download.
So I decided to select “View more…” under the Audiobook Fiction section in the black navigation bar to browse what was available. The headphones icon over a title tells you that it is an audiobook.
I scrolled down through the various categories until I came to one that interested me (Literature) and clicked “View more…”
To narrow down my search, I selected “Subject” from the left side bar.
Then I selected my subject of choice, “Classic Literature.”
I scrolled down until I found a title that I wanted to download, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and clicked “Borrow.”
Just a note about children’s literature. There can be many versions of the classics. My encouragement is to read the unadapted and unabridged version. Our children deserve the respect of giving them rich, quality literature, that hasn’t been dumbed down
This is as far as I can take you since I don’t have an account with a library that uses Overdrive. I think that you will be able to take it from there though.
I connect my iPad via bluetooth to a portable bluetooth speaker for a better listening experience. My children then prop the iPad and speaker up on their dresser, snuggle into bed, and enjoy the story.
I’d love to hear your audiobook experiences.