As part of two new digital reading initiatives being announced Thursday by President Barack Obama, a group of major American book publishers will donate more than $250 million worth of e-books for use by low income students. In addition, a coalition of more than 30 communities around the country, working through the White House's digital education initiative ConnectED, have committed to making sure local students have access to library cards and the educational resources those cards represent.
Publishers contributing e-books to this initiative include all of the Big Five—Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Hachette—as well as such independent houses as Bloomsbury, Candlewick, Lee & Low, and Cricket Media. Donations are focused on titles for children. The e-book donations will be made available through libraries and nonprofit educational organizations.
S&S president and CEO Carolyn Reidy said, the house was “delighted” to be a part of the ConnectEd initiative. “This program, which extends into the digital realm our longstanding practice of providing books for children in need, is a significant and necessary step toward encouraging literacy and education for all in today’s world.”
ConnectED, launched in 2013, is focused on expanding educational access to high-speed broadband technology for American schools and students over a five-year period. As part of the new ConnectED Library Challenge, New York Public Library is working with First Books, the nonprofit book donation organization, the Digital Public Library of America, and a network of librarians to develop an e-reading app for low-income students 4-18 years old.
According to the White House, the addition of publisher e-book donations, library commitments, government funding, and other private sectors donations has created a pool of nearly $10 billion to use to upgrade wi-fi and broadband access as well as expand overall digital educational resources for U.S. schools. Among the communities adopting the ConnectED library challenge are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and others.
As part of the announcement of this reading intitiative, President Obama is also awarding Shanna Peeples the 2015 National Teacher of the Year award, and asking people to go on social media and thank their favorite teachers using the hashtag #ThankATeacher. He’s also asking people to share the books that have been critical to their lives under the hashtag #BooksForAll.
President Obama is announcing these new reading initiatives at a public library in the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. “America's librarians, like our teachers, connect us to books and learning resources that help us dream big,” President Obama said in a statement.