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VOX Books — the marriage of picture and audio books targeted at readers 6 and under — are ready for checkout in the children’s section at the Billings Public Library.

The 50 new books arrived this week courtesy of a three-month-long Bags for Change fundraiser at Lucky’s Market and a smaller grant from the Friends of the Billings Public Library. Shoppers donated nearly $1,700 during the fundraiser; the Friends made up the $400 or so difference to cover the initial book purchase.

Beginning in July, the library plans to add a dozen new titles every quarter. Those new books will be purchased through the library’s acquisitions budget.

During a Wednesday look at the new technology, assistant children’s librarians Allynne Ellis and Elizabeth Fellerer said the books cost between $38 and $43 each — that’s the library rate — and have a built-in reader permanently attached. The books require recharging after about 100 uses; the initial batch of books came with five recharging stations.

Titles include “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs,” “Let’s Look at Armadillos,” and “The Nuts: Sing and Dance in Your Polka-Dot Pants.”

In many cases, it’s the author who’s reading the book. An alert prompts children to turn the page so that developing readers can follow the words as they’re spoken aloud.

Fellerer said she’s not too worried that the relatively new technology will let parents off the hook when it comes time to read to their children.

“These books don’t replace parents,” she said. “They enhance what they’re already doing.”

A headphone jack makes for the ideal listening experience. Librarians say they believe the new titles — both fiction and nonfiction — will prove popular, especially for families planning to take a long summertime trip.

The new books can stay checked out for the standard 28-day circulation period.

VOX Books — “vox” is Latin for “voice” — were introduced in 2015. Ellis and Fellerer said they used social media to ask librarians who’ve used them how much young readers were enjoying them.

“We also did a lot of thinking” before ordering the books, Ellis said. “The response we got (from other librarians) was overwhelmingly positive.”

If the company begins offering books for older readers, the library will probably add those titles to the collection.

“A chapter book (with an audio reader) would be a big help to a child with dyslexia,” Fellerer said.

“There’s a nice range of reading for many interest levels,” Ellis said. “They’re good books.”



City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.