Children’s books are the cornerstone of reading.  From a very young age, children are introduced to books that allow them to marvel at faraway lands and colorful characters through illustrations and powerful words.

To this very day, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Animalia rank at the top of my book list right along with To Kill a Mockingbird and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Perhaps it’s the childhood memory of reading with my mother, or the fact that these books sparked my love of reading, and imagination that I still carry on.  Children’s books are more popular than ever, but they are now at the point of format transformation.

The eBook phenomenon has not been lost among children’s books, it is merely taken a back seat to the blockbuster thrillers and world wind romances that typically adorn bestseller lists.  But people are beginning to take notice.  As color eReaders and tablets rapidly enter the market, publishers began to see the picture book eReading experience a much more viable one.  After all, what would Eric Carle’s caterpillar be without its radiant colors, or how would we truly imagine Max’s adventure in Where the Wild Things Are?

As GadgetWise points out, all it takes is a search through the Apple App Store to find children’s eBooks complete with animation and illustration.  While Alice in Wonderland and Dr. Seuss stories are available for purchase, users can also check out free children’s books from their local library. OverDrive’s catalog of children’s eBooks is rapidly expanding to include Disney Digital Books, The Berenstain Bears, Thomas the Tank Engine, P.D. Eastman classics, early readers, and many more.   Expect a seamless, colorful reading experience that is fun for not only children, but parents as well.

How do we know that these eBooks are growing in popularity?  Over the past 6 months, the circulation of Juvenile Fiction EPUB eBooks at OverDrive libraries has soared 474%, making it one of the fastest growing genre. While some might contribute this to the general boom in eBook circulation across all genres, statistics show otherwise.  Two of the most popular genres, Mystery and Romance, increased 329% and 297% respectively, much less than Juvenile Fiction.

There is no question that children’s eBooks are here to stay. What is uncertain is how parents and educators will embrace and implement this new technology into entertaining and educating the newest generation of kids.  In his blog post The Future of Children’s eBooks, GeekDad discusses the opportunities that children’s eBooks offer for interactive learning.  What is he looking for in these eBooks — allowing children to control the narrative, nurturing exploration, and supporting 21st century skills.  Time, innovation, and good old fashion imagination will take children’s eBooks to the next level.

My desk is adorned with badges, toys, books, pictures, and behind it all sits a copy of my very first favorite book, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to remind me that off in some distant land, food can rain from the sky.

What children’s books are you patiently waiting to read in eBook?

Lindsey Levinsohn is a collection development specialist for OverDrive.

3 Responses to “Children’s books go digital”

  1. Sean

    I’m currently composing a response to an email question that I have received from one of our library patrons that wants to know how to find young children’s ebooks in our OverDrive collection so that whe can load them onto her iPad for her 18 month old.

    I’m suggesting some of the titles/series I know we have like the Thomas the Tank books and a few others, but I have come to realize that there doesn’t seem to be a way to actually search for these very young children’s books. The “Juvenile Fiction” subject features all kids books including older children and even some that I could consider teen/young adult. So, I don’t have a basic search strategy to offer the patron.

    Has OverDrive considered or are they planning to add “Reading Level” information to the titles and provide a search option for Reading Level? These would be breakdowns like “Baby-Preschool”, “Ages 4-8”, etc.

    Thanks, Sean

  2. Dave

    I too am unable to find many children’s books in my library’s digital catalog and would love to see these new categories.

    I can only assume that my library does not have any ebooks for younger kids.

    • David Burleigh

      Hi Dave – the subjects for children’s books include “Juvenile,” as in Juvenile Fiction/Nonfiction and “Young Adult” as in Young Adult Fiction/Nonfiction. Go to your library’s “Advanced Search” and search for those terms under “Subject.” If your library has children’s books, you should be able to find them there.