The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 1, 2010

Review: 'Tumblebooks' make reading an adventure

How would you like to see a book come to life right before your eyes, or better yet, your child’s eyes? A new resource at the library does just that.

Tumblebook Library is an online collection of animated talking picture books called “Tumblebooks.” The books in the Tumblebook Library are existing titles that have animation, sound, music and narration added. The collection includes storybooks, fairy tales, nonfiction books and books for learning.

You can open a Tumblebook (click on the View Online graphic above the book) and join Jason in “50 Below Zero” as he finds his sleepwalking father on the refrigerator, in the bathtub, and numerous other places. You’ll see Jason peer over the covers when a noise wakes him, see his father bound across the room and watch Jason pull his frozen father home.

Most of the storybooks are set to automatically turn the pages, but you can change the setting to manual and turn the pages yourself. Other books, such as the pop-up book “Doors,” are set on manual so that you move through the book at your own pace. The reader opens each door with the click of the mouse and looks for all kinds of things on a boat, at the doctor’s office, in a horse’s stall, on a spaceship and many other places.

Each book has a synopsis of the story; author, illustrator and publisher information; reading time; reading level; book reviews; and accelerated reading info.

You have the option to add the books to “My Favorites” or “My Playlist.” “My Favorites” is just a list of books that you choose. “My Playlist” is a collection of books you choose that will play one after another when you click on the play button. You can add to and delete from the list as you wish.

Some of the Tumblebooks have games and puzzles associated with them, with a link on the right of the book information. There is also a “Puzzles and Games” tab that you can click on to choose the game or puzzle you want to play.

The “Language Learning” tab lets you choose books to be read in five different languages: French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Russian. There is only one title each in Chinese and Russian and two titles in Italian, but there are many to choose from in French and Spanish. The information on the books is in English (or Spanish or French if you changed the language on the home page), but when you view the book, the words and narration are in the language you chose.

Not all of the books in the Tumblebook Library show the words. The “Audiobooks” tab gives you access to a collection of books that are read to you. The read times are longer and you have the option to add bookmarks, so you can stop the book, then go back and pick up where you left off.

The “TumbleReadables” tab takes you to a collection of books without the animation. The book is narrated and each sentence read is highlighted. You have the option to control the size of the text. You can choose from “Early Readers,” “Read-Along Classics” or “Chapter Books” (no titles in this category yet).

In the “Large Print Classics,” you read the book (no narration) and you control the text size from 12 to 34 font size. As with the audiobooks, you can bookmark any book to stop and go back to the same place.

Please check out this great resource at the Joplin Public Library or from your home by going to the library Web site ( If you are in the library, go to the Kids page on the Web site and click on the Tumblebook link.

From home on the Web site, mouse over “Reference” then “Online Resources” and choose “Literature/Reading” from the drop-down menu.

You will need a username and password to access Tumblebooks from home. Contact the Children’s Department (417-623-2184) or the Reference Desk (417-624-5465) for that information.

Patty Crane is the reference librarian at Joplin Public Library.