Back to articles An Adventure in Reading: TumbleBooks now available at the Ajax Public Library

Categories: Family Fun

There are many websites that provide online picture books, but very few contain well-known books, and many are difficult to navigate. One of the best sites out there is TumbleBook Library.

TumbleBooks ( has one of the largest selections of animated, talking picture books available today and the Ajax Public Library now has access to 76 TumbleBooks in English alone, with many more e-books in French, Spanish and Chinese.

The e-books offered are a lively mix of classics and new tales, such as The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch. All of the titles are from established children’s book publishers in North America. They are easy to navigate in two formats; kids can follow along as the e-book is read to them in automatic mode, or they can go at their own pace in manual mode. All of the e-books are animated, contain music and sound effects and are narrated by professional readers. They are great educational tools as the books literally come to life on the screen.

As the site is intended for children, it has been designed to be very easily accessible. The homepage clearly directs users to the six resources: Story Books, Tumble Readables, Life Learning, Puzzles & Games, Language Learning and Audio Books. All six resources can be arranged by detail or by cover, which is a nice option. An alphabetical index is also available, which lists every title and author offered.

Each e-book also contains colour-coded icons that denote age and reading level, and by clicking on this one can view all of the titles in that category. For example, if a user enjoys Ish by Peter Reynolds, they can be directed to the 12 other e-books offered in the grade 1-3 level. Finally, there is also a TumbleSearch on the homepage, which operates like a basic library catalogue (Title, Author, Publisher, Illustrator).

There are many special features which are available, all of which are intended to foster a love for reading. After finishing an e-book, the child is encouraged to fill out a book report that can then be saved and printed; so too can certificates celebrating their reading achievements. I filled out a report for one of the books and completed a certificate as well; both of the printouts were in full colour and quite attractive. These are excellent features to motivate young readers. And if a particular title is especially enjoyed, it can be added to the reader’s personal list of Favourites for easy access in the future.

The joy of reading can also be shared with a friend through this site. Personalized TumbleCards can be sent to anyone with an email address (as can a couple of e-books), and children can also narrate some of the picture books themselves and then send their masterworks to family and friends.

TumbleBook Library is an wonderful resource which should be in place in all public libraries and schools which are committed to encouraging children to read. Check with your child’s school or at your public library to see if they have access to the TumbleBook Library today; you and your child will not be disappointed. 

Joel A. Sutherland is a librarian who conducts a weekly storytime at the Main Branch of the Ajax Public Library, as well as a published author. He is currently studying his Masters of Information and Library Science from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, with a particular interest in children’s issues. Visit him online at