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Books offer a welcome alternative to the deluge of negative news and hottakes. Read on for some free sites and apps I recommend for finding and enjoying books this summer, whether you prefer paper or digital.
Use a digital library
Libbyis the most useful library app. It is an update of the old OverDrive, which is now used by libraries in 78 countries and 90% of those in the US. I rely on the app to view free eBooks for my Kindle and the Kindle app on my phone. The Libby app also offers its own e-reader, so you can view and read digital books in the same app.
- Functions: Like a Kindle, you can click on a word in Libby’s eReader to get its definition, or see where in the book a name or phrase appears. You can mark passages you want to return to or share. Libby also has a built-in audiobook player. My family uses it to listen to audiobooks on car trips, although lately we mostly listen to podcasts like the great Business Wars podcast series about theHaagen-Dazs vs. Ben and Jerry’sconflict.
- Bonus Feature:If you’re lucky enough to have cards for multiple libraries, you can use them all with the Libby app without logging out or creating multiple accounts. This way you can easily find out which library has the book you are looking for.
- Constraint:You cannot view physical books with it. You’ll need to use a separate app or your local library’s site for that.
world cattells you which libraries in your area have a particular book. It works in multiple languages and connects to more than 10,000 libraries worldwide. It allows you to search for any format or language, whether you need a book in print, ebook, Braille, audio or any other format.
Kanopy, also owned by OverDrive, offers free access to feature films and documentaries, accessible by logging in with your library card. I love that once you set up an account you can watch on the web or on an iOS or Android device, or on your SmartTV app (Roku, Samsung, Amazon, etc). There is a greatchildren’s sectionwhich has episodes of Sesame Street; video versions of books by Eric Carle, Mo Willems and other great children’s authors; math and science lessons for children; and a variety of age-appropriate short films.
- Constraint: Libraries put limits on how many things you can watch in a month, so don’t expect unlimited viewing with Kanopy.