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Digital Tools to Improve Student Access to Books and the Reading Experience

Encouraging reading and literacy are just as significant as ever, but getting books into the hands of students often faces obstacles due to inconvenience. Teachers and school librarians can benefit from adopting electronic resources to improve student access to necessary and optional texts. 

eBooks and online reading systems have the potential to drastically simplify the process of getting reading materials into the hands of young readers and letting them read on their own devices. From eBook borrowing platforms to digital textbook, to online tools meant to aid in reading, these resources can be incredibly valuable to all educators as they utilize more online tools.

eBook Lending Platforms

Library ebooks and audiobook lending apps like Hoopla and Libby have been growing in popularity. Companies have seen the opportunity to directly target the needs of K-12 schools with similar systems. Sora, operated by OverDrive, lets students access ebooks and audiobooks through their school library. 

OverDrive told Publishers Weekly that Sora has grown from 5,000 schools at its launch in 2018 to 23,000 schools at the end of 2019, and saw 5.5 million total checkouts of books in that time. Similar apps include Epic, which is one of the leading providers of books targeted specifically at schools. 

In schools that used Sora, students nearly doubled the amount of time they spent reading, and their reading increased by 240% of Sora was connected to their local public library’s ebook offerings. Platforms like Sora and Epic also have capabilities to let teachers assign books, allow note taking and highlighting by readers, give virtual awards for completing books, and track statistics for the number of books read. 

Such features help teachers inspire students to read and measure their progress. Ebook libraries provide learners access to a wide range of books on their phones and gadgets and may be utilized for class-assigned material, research and recreational reading.

Digital Reading Aids

Just as it is important as getting access to books are tools that improve the reading experience in class and at home. Apps and tools for note-taking, tracking, and enhancing the reading experience all add value to the teaching process. 

Novel Effect is an app that was named one of the American Association of School Librarians’ top apps for teaching and learning in 2019. It lets you add sound effects and background tracks as you read aloud, which can improve the classroom atmosphere and help bring stories to life. Unite For Literacy helps to bring books accessible to all cultures and languages, including support and narration for books in 50 languages. Note-taking apps like Evernote and Beyondpad can help students lay out notes and observations on classroom reading.

Read More: 12 Top Uses for a Learning Management System


Textbooks have been slow to adapt to the rise of digital media, and many schools still depend on heavy texts for their teaching needs. E-textbooks have been rising in popularity and are available on major ebook platforms. Educational publishers like Pearson have transitioned to providing e-Textbooks with enhanced features such as note-taking and integration with learning management systems like Blackboard and Canvas. 

E-textbooks are ideal for distance learning, so schools are not required to distribute physical books to every student. Digital textbooks can be turned into courses that encompass the subject matter with exercises, homework, and supplementary multimedia content, increasing their value compared to their physical versions. 

Increasing access to digital books and making them easier to use in the classroom can save teachers’ time and improve student engagement with reading assignments. With digital texts and tools at their fingertips, students will have more opportunities to read and engage with their learning material.

Content Team

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