Open eBooks, a new literacy program, launched earlier this year. The program is an app that gives in-need youth unlimited free access to thousands of ebooks. While the program is a partnership between Digital Public Library of America, The New York Public Library, and First Book, with content support from digital books distributor Baker & Taylor, it is part of the White House ConnectED Initiative.
The goal of Open eBooks is to encourage a love of reading and serve as a gateway to children reading more often. Books on the Open eBooks app can be read without cost. Open eBook users can borrow up to 10 books at once.
The app gives any educator or administrator at one of the more than 66,000 Title I schools or any of the 194 Defense Department Education Activity schools in the United States access to thousands of free ebooks. Educators, librarians and program leaders working with children and youth from in-need families can sign up through First Book to receive free access to the Open eBooks app. The Open eBooks app will be available exclusively to educators, librarians and program leaders who are signed up with First Book.
The program is not without its critics. One drawback is that only educators, librarians, and other leaders working with youth and families can access the app. That means the children must read the books on school-issued tablets or iPads. Not all schools have these, and many do not allow the children to take these items home, meaning the children can only access and read the books at school. Reading is often given low priority in schools; with teachers giving priority to testing and mechanics. Many believe that the love of reading is best learned in the home.
On the positive side, Open eBooks does provide books to low-income children in schools that often can’t afford to fund a school library. For children in low-income schools that can take their school-issued tablets or iPads home, these children will now have access to books they can read at home if they so choose. Increased reading rates is good for all authors and publishers. The more people read, the more books are in demand.
If you are interested in contributing your ebooks to in-need children through the Open eBooks program, you can learn how on the Open eBooks website. However, I highly doubt the program is open to accepting overtly Christian books for children since it is a program for public schools.
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