Sunday, May 3, 2015

Free ebooks for poor kids

There's a new plan afoot: to give free ebooks to poor kids.  It's part of the Obama administration's newest plan to get more books into the hands of underprivileged kids.

"Children should not be unable to get reading materials because their parents don't have money," says Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, which has offered up all of its titles for kids from 4 to 14.

Candlewick Press, publisher of the popular Judy Moody series, is also opening its catalog.

"We really, really care about getting books to all kids," says Candlewick CEO Karen Lotz. "Kids who can't afford them. Kids who are in rural areas and not near bookstores."
As the article points out, the biggest hitch in the plan is how to deliver the books to the kids.

Poor kids are unlikely to have an Internet connection and/or a computer or device that the books can be read on.  Luckily, many libraries are now providing e-readers that can be borrowed, either in the library or checked out for a period of time.  So libraries will continue to be pivotal in the push to give underprivileged kids access to books.

The Obama administration can't simply give a computer or tablet to every kid who wants to read an e-book. But it has made it a priority to get broadband into just about every public school and library by 2018.

The nation's chief technology officer, Megan Smith, says part of the plan involves "really leveraging libraries as a third place; if families don't have access to devices at home, the children can get to the library and [get in] that habit."

To help make that happen, the White House is also running a program in more than 30 cities and counties to give every student a library card.
I'm excited about this.  Aside from the challenges of how the kids will read the books, this is actually a great solution for giving kids better access to books, because ebooks are (kinda) free, at least in that the publishers aren't actually losing any money by providing electronic copies to families that wouldn't have had the money to become customers, anyway.

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