Playaway Audio Books for Kids Available Now at Manitowoc Public Library

The following article was written by Lisa Pike, the Materials Management Librarian at the Manitowoc Public Library.

Do you and your children enjoy listening to audiobooks and are always on the lookout for the next best way to do so? Well, then, you are in luck! Starting in January, Manitowoc Public Library is now checking out its newest youth collection—Playaway audio devices.

The Playaway audiobook device is an all-in-one listening device no bigger than a deck of cards, so it easily fits in a pocket or in your hand. Each device comes pre-loaded with a permanent audiobook title. This way there is no need for an internet connection to download files or delete them when finished. No longer will you need to worry about having internet access, scratched CDs that will not play, or having a CD player in order to listen. All you need to provide is one AAA battery to listen to your next great read.

Playaways are available for a 3-week checkout and users can place holds for titles if the one you are seeking is unavailable. The device consists of a small display screen that shows run time and track location. It uses simple buttons seen on most media devices of rewind, fast-forward, play/pause and playing speed. The universal headphone jack allows users to use their personal headsets or ear buds to listen. So, no worries about clean earpieces. If you prefer to listen without a headset and own an auxiliary cord, you can also connect to a portable speaker or to the speaker system in your car.

This new collection is possible thanks to the Library’s S.I.L.L.I. (Supporting Innovative Library Leadership Initiatives) grant initiative. This same grant has also brought the SAD happy lights and videogame collections to the Library in past years. Playaways are a way to bridge the digital access gap for those who may not have internet or digital devices available. They provide an alternative to books on CD as well, which are more difficult to use since CD players have become less available.

Playaways provide many benefits to kids that struggle with reading. Their setup allows kids to better focus and even follow along with the print book. The basic screen and buttons also prevents distraction and cuts down on screen time, too. They are also a great option for family travel letting everyone listen to their favorites at the same time.

The library currently offers 60 different titles of youth fiction and nonfiction in the Playaway format. Some available titles are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I Survived, The Wild Robot, and The Lost Library. On the library’s website, you can find a catalog listing of the Playaway titles under the “Special Collections” page of the “Books & More” menu. Once you have gone through all our titles, let us know and we can borrow from other libraries to supplement what we have until our collection expands.

The new Playaways have flown off the shelf in the few weeks that they have been available. Our hope is to grow the collection as long as demand continues. One of our long-term goals with this new collection is that with demand and familiarity, we will be able to start a collection of adult titles too. Making it that much easier for adults to listen to a great read while walking, gardening, or cooking.