Kids books on the road - swaps, libraries,

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 19:58
ThreadID: 100781 Views:2226 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
This Thread has been Archived
And another 9yo is an avid reader. She absolutely gobbles the books (can easily churn through 5 a day) and I don't fancy lugging 1000s of volumes on our 3 month trip. I know a kindle is an option, but presumably I will then be paying massive $$$ on ebooks. At home we largely rely on the library and supplement from op shops and book stores occasionally.
So what is the solution? Do the libraries in, say, the north-west of WA allow you to pick up at one and drop off 1000km away? Do campgrounds have bookswaps available (for kids not adults)? I remember backpacking in Europe 20 years ago I used to get mail delivered to post offices using the poste restante system. Anyone know if that exists here, in which case I guess I could despatch some packages from home to collect on the way!
I guess I could just put a sign on our car saying we were keen to do book swaps with other travellers. Any other ideas?
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: SDG - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 21:17

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 21:17
Many kids get car sick if reading while travelling in the car for long distances.
My suggestion would be to pack a couple of books with different stories in them, or a couple of bigger novels, just to read while relaxing at the campsites, before/after dinner etc.
Most likely she will be to active during the rest of the day to read.
AnswerID: 505639

Reply By: Searay - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 21:18

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 21:18
Hi Carolyn, The kindle is the way to go, hard to rely on books for kids at campgrounds. My 7 year old loves to read but they play outside a lot more when on the road, but he reads at night and when in the car. You can get books cheap on the kindle and there is no extra weight in the car/caravan(from books) which usually is the biggest problem.

AnswerID: 505640

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 22:16

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013 at 22:16
Hi Carolyn,

I would not rely on CPs as a source of children's books. Sometimes you can swap adult books at CPs but I doubt that I have ever seen children's books. Suggest go to your local library and see what arrangements are available - I have a feeling that your library membership is valid at any other public library (?). There are thousands of free adult books available for kindle, and a quick google shows that there are quite a few free childrens books too - some will be older titles (classics even). A kindle or kobo is a great space saver when travelling.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 505649

Reply By: Member - Gerald V - Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 10:40

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 10:40
Hi Carolyn,

We have a similar problem, but 2 avid readers (rapidly approaching 3 avid readers and I'm sure number 4 will catch up even faster). eBooks have been our solution. We can borrow eBooks from our library (State Library Tasmania) online and there are several sites that have 1000's of royalty free books available (eg So, it's worth checking your local library and confirming the ebook format that will work. We also buy the odd eBook from time to time.

Tip shops, 2nd hand shops are also a good source - just drop your old books off and pay a token amount for new ones.

Heard a story from someone recently where that put their van over a weighbridge and found it to be just overweight due to (you guessed it!) boxes of books that they were lugging around with them!

Good luck
AnswerID: 505673

Follow Up By: Carolyn R2 - Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 21:12

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 21:12
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Sounds like something electronic is the way to go, supplemented by op shops if we pass any!
Gerald V can you access the library ebooks through a kindle or only a computer/iPad? I believe a kindle is much more book-like and easier to read from, so would prefer that option with the free ebooks if it works!
FollowupID: 782649

Follow Up By: Member - Gerald V - Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 10:34

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 10:34

Contrary to popular belief, the Kindle is not tied to the Amazon store. With free software (e.g. Calibre: you can convert almost any ebook format to another (assuming that they are not copy protected). This means that any open source book available online may be converted to Kindle format (MOBI) with ease.

You can access books from the Library using a Kindle, but you need the right 'tools' added on to Calibre on a PC - it's technically not legal because you have to remove the DRM copy protection to convert to Kindle format. There are, however, many other e-readers that have the same e-ink display that can be used to access the library books directly (and legally!) - almost anything that can read an ePub book. You will still need a laptop to download the books and transfer to your e-reader. If you local library is anything like ours they will have a lot of information to get you started. Ours occasionally runs free training sessions.

We also have Google Nexus 7 Android tablets which can connect directly to the library (using Overdrive Media Console app) for downloading books. IPad will do the same.

That being said, the preferred reading device for our family is a dedicated e-reader because of the e-ink display and 3 week battery life. Although they don't have colour, the display is much easier to look at for long periods and is as easy as a normal paper book to read in direct sunlight.

There are plenty of different options out there, you just have to find one that will work well for you.

FollowupID: 782673

Reply By: Pushy - Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 11:44

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 11:44

Not sure what navigational equipment you have but you could probably invest in an atlas, covering the route of your trip, with lots of info to read. When you pull into information centres grab some brochures for her to read.

AnswerID: 505677

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 15:33

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 15:33
I don't know about on the road but we were shuffled around the states quite a bit by the Army. For books we used to browse the second hand places like Vinnies and the Salvos. Second hand book shops were better because they would give you something for the old ones you took in. Not a lot but it helped saving a few dollars and not loading us up with heaps of books that would most probably never get read again.

Seems to me not a bad idea for a family in a van.

AnswerID: 505692

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 09:13

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 09:13
Our daughter had a similar problem while in Asia for an extended stay. She found the IPad better than a Kindle or other e-reader for children's books. She could get books from a range of sources and, unlike an e-reader, the IPad also showed illustrations and colour. The Kindle ties you to Amazon for purchases. Any electronic reader will certainly save weight! She also found some challenging and interesting games for the IPad.
Yes parcels can be mailed to any Post Office to await your arrival. I think you have a few weeks to collect them, depending on location. You could line up grandparents or friends to post books ahead of your itinerary although postage could get expensive. You could then swap the books with other families or opshops as you travel so the weight doesn't just accumulate! Lynne
AnswerID: 505722

Follow Up By: Member - John and Lynne - Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 10:15

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 10:15
Another point is that large English bookshops such as the Book Depository sell an excellent range of kids' books on-line and they offer free postage to anywhere in Australia. Might be worth checking such sources. You could shop as you travel! Lynne
FollowupID: 782672

Follow Up By: Carolyn R2 - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 22:04

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 22:04
Great idea re bookdepository - although I haven't found their delivery times that reliable! But definitely worth considering if we think ahead enough!
FollowupID: 783087

Reply By: Ross M - Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 16:47

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 16:47
Carolyn R2
This is a different point of view from most.
Try and steer away from electronic gadgetry and find/source reading matter about the land and it's rock formations, the plants, flowers, trees and animals which are likely to be encountered on the trip. Rangers stations are a great source of info.

More of what you can already get at home isn't necessarily educational.
After leaving an Automotive/Educational background job, I drove interstate coaches for a change. Some school groups on "centre trips", who always had there heads in the suburbs had a lot to learn about the country they live in. Even the teachers were surprised when shown how insects and animals live in the outback.
eg, That ring of golden feathers on the side of the road next to road kill was an eagle which had been killed by a big feral cat. Cats prefer chicken to kangaroo. Lots of eagles die this way.

The students kept a diary about what they learnt each day.

Think of it as a new horizon and your daughter is of an age where she would soak up and understand many things not found in the burbs.

Ross M
AnswerID: 505754

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 19:36

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 at 19:36
Hi Ross, Thanks for making a really good point. Now I come to think of it I have seen quite a bit of informative childrens material at tourist centres, National parks offices etc. Some is free, some not. I notice that the EO shop has kids atlases for sale too, a really good travel accompaniment.

That said, just as we like to read our novels, thrillers or biographies etc at night I suspect children want to do the same too.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

FollowupID: 782701

Reply By: get outmore - Friday, Mar 01, 2013 at 00:21

Friday, Mar 01, 2013 at 00:21
Id say if shes going through 5 books a day shes not being challenged enough by them.
Perhaps get her lord of the rings. As a 7 year old I was reading books like peter Benchley jaws etc. Sure some of the adult content went over my head but I wasnt finishing books like that in an hour or 2
AnswerID: 505782

Follow Up By: Member - John and Lynne - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 09:02

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 09:02
You probably need to move her books up a level or two, to later primary at least. I see that some of the Australian classics are reappearing in attractive editions and paperbacks- Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Blinky Bill etc. Also Enid Blyton's Famous Five series have been reissued- these are still ripping yarns for kids and likely to take longer to read. I remember discovering them at seven. She could be up to Harry Potter too. If all else fails Lord of the Rings should certainly stop her for a while! There is certainly a place for quality non fiction about Australia and the places and animals she is likely to see.
Good luck with the project. I could never keep up with my avid readers! Lynne
FollowupID: 783105

Sponsored Links