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eBooks Overview

Digital Books
For Elementary School Students

Ebooks can have many advantages over their print counterparts. They can be purchased instantly online, and we can take them with us wherever we go on our phones, tablets, and computers.  Navigating the digital book market can be confusing and frustrating. The rules are different depending on the source of your ebook.  Here are some things you should consider:

  • When providing access to books for children are they exposed to adult books?
  • Are their features or add ons that help with reading instruction?
  • What’s the book selection like? Does it include mainstream and  popular books or just in-house publications?
  • Can books be read by a single user or multiple readers?
  • Is there a read to me feature?
  • Are additional features-notes, dictionary, font size adjustments, brightness controls… included in the reading experience?
  • Can books be read from multiple devices and platforms?

Schools and Public Institutions
eBooks may be available to you from public institutions like your school library or your public library.  In some cases, organizations may provide free and low cost books to educational organizations. An example of that is a program called “Open eBooks”. “A coalition of literacy, library, publishing and technology partners joined together to make the Open eBooks program possible.”1 We are able to take advantage of this program at South School and other RSU13 schools may be eligible as well.

Specialty and Education Market
Skybrary from Reading Rainbow, Epic!,, and Storia from Scholastic are examples of sources from the specialty and education market. Subscriptions may be purchased by family, classroom, or school. Some offer free subscriptions for a limited number of titles or for certain groups like teachers or schools with high rates of populations with free and reduced student lunch and schools with TItle 1 programs. Some consumer markets have special features or programs for educators. Barnes & Noble has a Nook app that can be used on an iPad and limits students to books that are pushed to the app by the teacher or parent.  Kobo offers a similar service. With the new Apple school management app you should be able to have the same abilities with the iBooks app. Amazon offers a wonderful service to be used with the Kindle App that allows teachers to manage books and accounts.  The service is called Whispercast.

The Consumer Market

These suppliers target individuals and include familiar names like Amazon (readable on a Kindle or on the Kindle App), iBooks (readable on Apple devices only), Google (readable through the Google Play Books app), Barnes & Noble (readable on the Nook and on the Nook app) and Kobo ( a Canadian based world eBook market). Generally each of these suppliers can be read on multiple devices (except iBooks) and books are stored in your online library.  Ownership cannot be transferred which is something you really need to put some thought into if you are trying to establish collections that students can read from year to year.  Most of these online markets also offer free and inexpensive books, especially for older titles.  They have huge selections of books and with some tricks and tips can be used successfully to create classroom libraries and model read alouds.

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