The future is here: digital book resources for kids

Digital libraries such as Epic! have more books at their fingertips than you could ever store.
Digital libraries such as Epic! have more books at their fingertips than you could ever store. Photo: Epic!

If you're like many Australian households with kids, you'll have a tablet and computer of some kind and most probably more than a few bookshelves heaving with years of book purchases.

I will freely admit to becoming a little overwhelmed with childrens books; the product of being a former primary school teacher and a parent for the last 11 years.

There was a time when a new book would join us almost weekly, whether bought by me or gifted by a friend or relative. Over time, it adds up to an incredible amount of books, which have become cumbersome to store and overwhelming even for my children.

There are ways to combat the overwhelm such as having a very large bookcase in a different room, and a smaller one in each of the kids' bedrooms, as well as frequenting the local library more often, however we are starting to look to digital options which take up no room in the house, nor incur late fines.

Recent research conducted by the Australian arm of Audible, has revealed that more than 5.6 million Australians are opting to listen to audiobooks. More often than not they are completing other tasks while they listen, with 49 per cent listening as they commute, 39 per cent while doing housework, 30 per cent exercising and most amusingly 17 per cent on the toilet.

For kids, there are certainly great benefits to having their stories on hand both in audio and visual digital format. Winding down and relaxing can be very challenging for kids who are required to be switched on for hours per day.

There are also many digital books available. Rather than requiring a physical book every time a child would like to read, a digital book provides instant access to many titles, which are portable on a computer or tablet.

We're not suggesting that digital and audio books should completely replace paper books - we know they complement each other nicely.

Here are some digital book resources for you to consider for your family.

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1. Epic

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Epic! is an amazing digital library where, for the fee of US$5 a month, you have access to over 10,000 children's titles. You can create up to four reader profiles and kids can read anywhere, any time and on any device they choose.

The icing on this particular cake is that there are no ads or in-app purchases and of course, it's available for both Apple and Android devotees. You can also try it free for a month to see if they'll like it or not and there are hundreds of audiobooks thrown in for good measure.

For reluctant readers there is a reward system that tracks progress and encourages them with personalised suggestions. It has been dubbed the 'Netflix of kids' books'.

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2. Audible

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With more than 17,000 children's titles alone, your kid won't be a kid anymore by the time they get through them all.
Audible is $14.95 to join then each title has its own cost.
 

3. Digital Storytime

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Digital Storytime has reviews of books you can download so you can be sure of what you are buying.
 

4. Your local library

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Photo: Westend61/Getty

For free e-books and audio books downloadable to a device? Why yes. 

Your local library is most likely on board with 21st century book reading options so make sure you find out which ones are available to you and your child.

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