Friday, July 17, 2009

Reading with eBooks

I was posed with the challenge of finding books for my granddaughter to read. Naturally we went to the local library first. After picking several that interested her, we looked at each other and thought, "OK, which one of us is going to carry out this arm load full of books." I can fully understand why doctors are worried about how carrying around all that weight, either for recreational or school-related subjects, is causing damage to students. Along with the weight of so many books came the fact that we really didn't have a place to store them as she read.

Angie helps keep me in check with the way children are different from a few years ago. She does love to hold a book and read, but is also a true "digital" child. We got to talking about other ways to read books and magazines. The eBook, an electronic version of a book, was one of our other solutions.

I have an account with Free-ebooks and was able to find some fiction and nonfiction titles from their thousands of offerings for her to downloaded to our PDA. The titles were available immediately and we transferred them to our desktop machine for her to be able to read later and not lose her place in the book. Manybooks is another good site with over 21,000 eBooks available as free downloads. They take donations to help keep the site up and running.

All of the eBooks we downloaded use the free software, Microsoft Reader that works on PC desktops, laptops, Tablet PCs, and Pocket PCs. The software is easy to install and use. The interface is simple so you can concentrate on your eBook. Since the eBooks were on the PDA and we had text-to-speech enabled, I am able to listen to the eBook while driving the car. It's exciting to watch her choose a title, start reading it and then jump from the page to a linked audio or video. Everything is hyperlinked, making it easy to go back to the written page or to another topic.

Using the technology comes easily and naturally to this younger generation. The next item on the Angie To-Do List is to create her own eBook. We're working on the story in MS Word 2003 and will be able to convert it using the Read in Microsoft Reader feature. The Table of Contents, hyperlinks and images will be automatically converted from Word to the eBook. As an upcoming fifth grader, she hasn't learned all about how to create the table of contents for her chapters - I'm off to lend some assistance.

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