5 Day’s Of Technology For Homeschooling ~ Day 1 eBooks
Anyone who knows me, knows I love to read. My personal library has been steadily growing for many years and I’m starting to run out of room for bookcases!
When eBooks first came out I balked at the idea. I like to HOLD my book and I didn’t feel like an eReader would give me the same connection with the book. Well I was wrong. Yes I still love good “old fashion” books, but eBooks have really grown on me.
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One thing that first attracted me to using eBooks is that many curriculum sellers are in the USA and we live in Canada. When they started coming out with eBook versions I found I could save a lot of money on both the book price and shipping costs. Shipping from the USA to Canada is expensive!
Another reason I’ve grown to love eBooks is that I can buy one copy and use it on multiple computers and eReaders. This means our day will go faster when each child can do their reading with out waiting for another child to finish their chapter in the same book. No more fighting over books! Books also can not be lost and turn your day upside down at the last minute. Can’t find the eReader, then read it on the pc. I can’t count how many times a child has misplaced a print book that I needed for lessons that day!
When I buy eBooks in PDF format they can easily be printed out or read on a tablet/pc. I really like buying PDF copies of workbooks as it lets me easily print worksheets for children. Yes I can photocopy them out of a traditional workbook as well if the copyright allows it, but it’s slower and you always get dark shadows along one side of the paper. I load teacher guides onto my android tablet and find it works wonderfully when I’m working with the children. This way I save the cost of printing them out and it’s very portable. We often like to do our lessons outside on nice days. Not having to carry out large binders of teachers guides and copies of reading books saves time and there is a less risk of paper books getting wet or dirty.
My eReader is a Kindle Touch, that I sadly see is not being made anymore but refurbished units are still available.
It has the option of text to speech that I really liked for my children. Text to speech has been dropped from the other Kindle models, I wish they would bring this back! I really liked that children could read along with the audio with more difficult books.
The Kindle Paperwhite was the replacement for the Touch and it does look really good! I love that this past year Amazon has brought out parental controls for the Kindle’s. I can now lock down the Amazon store and other areas if I want. No more worrying about a child accidently going on a shopping spree!
Amazon sells a wide range of tablets as well. My personal tablet is a 7 inch Hipstreet that we bought earlier in the year at Wal-Mart. It’s a low end tablet but has worked well for me. It makes a great eReader, plays audio books and I can still use some great apps. I would love to eventually get a more powerful tablet with a larger screen.
If your thinking, but I don’t have an eReader or tablet what good are eBooks to me? Do you know you can read them easily right on your computer?
Kindle has a Kindle for Desktop program that works very well. It can synchronize your reading in each book across multiple computers and devices, lets you organize your books into collections, search your books, and has a dictionary and the ability to add notes to your books. Kindle for Desktop is available for Windows, XP, Vista, & and * and Mac as well.
Amazon also has apps for tablets and Smartphone's, you can read more about their available apps on their App page.
My personal favourite desktop program for working with and reading eBooks is Calibre. I originally found this program when I was looking for a desktop eBook program that worked on Linux.
Calibre is a cross platform program with versions for Linux, Mac and Windows. Calibre is a much more powerful program then Kindle, it is amazing for organizing your eBooks, printing eBooks, and converting eBooks from one form to another. It can also convert documents into epub and mobi formats. Calibre can easily send all or just selected books to your tablet/eReader and also import from them. When you have a device connected to your computer you can easily see what books from your library are on the eReader vs what’s on the pc.
Where To Find eBooks For Your Homeschool
Project Gutenberg is one of my favourite places to download free eBooks. They have an impressive catalogue of over 42, 000 free eBooks in multiple formats. All books on this site are in the public domain. Most books are offered in HTML, epub and kindle formats often with the choice of a file with or with out images and plain text file. Out of all the eBook sites I find that the Project Gutenberg has the nicest formatted Kindle books and not many typo’s.
Google Books has a huge database of both free and paid books. These can be downloaded in epub and PDF format. Many of their titles are blocked if you live outside the USA.
Internet Archive is a huge database of free public domain books and audio files. They include many books from Project Gutenberg, Google Books and many books people have scanned and uploaded to their site. You can browse by topic or search by keyword. They also give you the ability to filter to just the children's library section or Canadian libraries etc. I really like that many of their books are linked to LibriVox recordings for an audio version. The read online and PDF’s generated by the Internet Archive are very good, but I have had trouble with their kindle formatted books. They convert the PDF to OCR to make the Kindle books and this can cause some jumbled characters. This is why I prefer the Project Gutenberg kindle files to the Internet Archive.
Amazon has a great selection of eBooks. When browsing you can filter the price to low to high to see the free and cheap eBooks first. Many public domain classics are available here as free eBooks as well. Some are well formatted but others have the same odd character issues that the Internet Archive does and most of the free classic eBooks on Amazon do not have images. There are however multiple editions of different books and if your buying it from a different publisher they may have done a better formatting job. What I really do like about Amazon is they often have modern book titles on as freebies. I’ve been able to collect a wide range of children's books, cookbooks, gardening books, craft books etc. by checking their site daily.
The Baldwin Project has their Main Lessons website where you can read free online hundreds of public domain children's books. They also offer these books for sale through their site Yesterday’s Classics. I bought their eBook bundle last winter and I have absolutely loved it! They have their sale of 225 eBooks in kindle or epub format for $49.99 on right now. These books I’ve found to be well formatted and indexed. The images are in colour if the original book had a colour image. So on my Kindle they show up black and white but on my tablet we can see the full colour image.
Do you use eBooks? What are your favourite eBook sources? What is your favourite eReader?
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