Tumble Book Library | Reference Database Review

Providing a clean, full-featured search interface to more than 1,100 ebook and talking book titles, Tumble Book Library is a stalwart in the burgeoning market for remote learning and online reading platforms.

Tumble Book Library 

Grade Level K–6

Cost $799 per school annually for unlimited access by any number of users, either from school or off campus. Multi-school and district discounts are available.

Content Providing a clean, full-featured search interface to more than 1,100 ebook and talking book titles, Tumble Book Library is a stalwart in the burgeoning market for remote learning and online reading platforms.

On the landing page, beneath a banner and navigation bars, a paced shuffling feature highlights various titles, such as a Graphic Novel of the Day or Story Book of the Day. Beneath that are a range of themed menus of titles, as might appear in a streaming video service, indexing New Books, Quick Reads, Celebrating the Black Identity, and many other topics.

Titles are offered in varying formats, including Story Book, Read Along, and Ebook. When clicking a cover image, a Read Along is opened in a new tab with an index page containing a substantial summary, names of the author and publisher, and some basic bibliographic information, such as word count and the time required for a read-aloud, as well as reading level by grade and Lexile. Copyright dates are not included.

Books open up in an in-browser reader. A toolbar at the bottom allows for adjusting font and text size and color, background color, adding a bookmark, and making durable notes. A highlighter follows along at the pace of the read-aloud. Pages may be advanced without the voice accompaniment. Recordings are not downloadable.

An Ebook, typically a text without illustrations, appears in the same browser framework as a Read Along but without the read-aloud functionality or highlighting.

When a Story Book opens, an index page appears in a new tab. A menu is provided at the side of the index page for opening a video or for adding it to a Favorites list for viewing later or to a Playlist that allows for continuous play of multiple books. Additional controls are for accessing book-specific quizzes or a book report template that walks students through a series of simple, guiding questions.

In a viewer tab, using panning effects and simple animations of some components of the illustrations, along with a read-aloud, the book is transformed into a video-like presentation. The text of the stories appear in sidebar boxes, with the words highlighted as the text is read.

For example, in Oscar Lives Next Door, Bonnie Farmer’s 2015 fictionalized account of the Montreal childhood of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, with illustrations by Marie Lafrance, young Oscar’s head and hands jerk up and down at the piano while word art animations proclaim the “root-a-toot toot” of the accompanying horns.

Videos can be scrubbed and paused. Volume and playback speed are adjustable. Full-screen mode is an option.

In addition to these formats, graphic ­novels and nonfiction books are indexed on separate tabs. Graphic novels typically scroll continuously, rather than clicking through page by page.

Kate DiCamillo and actor John Lithgow have their own search categories and there are some prize winners and tie-ins to children’s TV programs, such as Caillou. A menu of “New Books” includes less recent titles, such as Anna at the Art Museum, by Gail Herbert and Hazel Hutchins, from 2018, and Bloom, by Doreen Cronin, which was published in 2016.

The database also includes a number of short, engaging, often quirky instructional videos on animals and other life science topics. They are indexed on their own tab. A few language learning books in French and Spanish are available, again, on a separate tab.

Some curated playlists are available, organized by length, from under ten minutes to more than forty, or by category such as Early Readers or Bilingual.

Student and teacher resources A “TumbleSearch” button opens up a new page with dropdown boxes for searching by title, author, language, and genre, as well as “TumbleTime” (how long it will take to read), and Accelerated Reader and Lexile (100-990) levels.

On the main navigation bar is a link for “Common Core” which provides reading standards for K–5. For each standard, a link is provided to a page listing Tumble Books texts that are associated with that standard.

Unlike many ebook subscriptions, according to the publisher’s promotional material, “the books are always available, to everyone in your institution.” Books open with unique URLs, making them suitable for assigning to students or posting in a learning management system.

A green “Tumble Admin” button with a gear icon opens a new page with access to reports, including tallies of views of books, quizzes, and lesson plans, sorted by month and year. There is also a page of downloadable icons and buttons for use in promotion, and a report of the total number of resources arranged by genre (1476 titles in the version seen, including videos, puzzles, and games).

A dropdown selector at the top of the index page sets the site to appear in English, with either Flash or non-Flash animations, or in French or Spanish, indexing only texts that are available in those languages.

Verdict Competitively priced and boasting an abundance of information and helpful how-to support for teachers and librarians, Tumble Book Library is recommended as a classroom teaching or digital library tool, particularly for those working with emerging readers.

Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson M.S., Falls Church, VA

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