Five Ways to Engage Your School Community with Ebooks


Today, as many librarians host visitors in their libraries, they hear the same questions being repeated over and over: “Do you have less books?” However, the answer is not a simple yes or no. As spaces change and shelf space decreases, libraries are seeing huge growth in their digital collections. Ebooks have become readily available for every title and digital shelves are bursting at the seams. So, while it may seem that there are fewer books on the physical shelves, there are more books on the digital shelves than ever before. And it is time that we used those books to their fullest potential. 

Ebooks are becoming increasingly popular in libraries and classrooms. Through the use of ebooks, we are able to reach students in ways that we never have before. Here are five ways that you can use ebooks in your space to encourage literacy and learning throughout your school community.

1. Engage your struggling readers through interactive ebooks.

For a struggling reader, even the task of looking at a screen and reading can seem daunting. Using interactive ebooks in large group settings or during quiet reading time allows the student to feel like they are participating in reading by being able to do more than just understand the phonics of the words. Invite your classes with struggling readers into the library and show them that books can truly be fun for every student! If you are unable to have the classes come to you, introducing this to your library can be as easy as making a display with QR codes or links to access the interactive ebooks. You can also post links and QR codes in Google Classroom or send them via email to teachers. 

2. Invite students to participate in an online book club.

While we are all busy talking about getting back to normal, many of our students have adapted to the life that they have been living and their normal looks different than ours. One of the ways that this might be showing itself more than ever right now is through your book club attendance. A multi-access and multi-user ebook allows students to all access the books from their phones, eReaders, or laptops and still have the enriching experience of reading a book together. Digital communication is completely at our fingertips now and discussions online with students can still be rich and rewarding – sometimes more so, because the student is in their comfort zone. The introduction of a completely online book club experience will not only allow you to interact with students you might not have had the opportunity to work with before, but it will also put books into the hands of students who might not have some in otherwise.

3. Highlight and celebrate assistive technology in ebooks.

All too often students see assistive technology as something that should make them feel shame. They don’t want anyone to know that they use the online dictionary, the translator, or the text to speech feature. However, these groundbreaking tools can offer every student that steps into your library something beneficial, and it is time that we begin to promote them as tools for all students. Use your ebooks as an opportunity to show how exciting these tools can be! This can be as easy as setting up an interactive display with an eBook and instructions on how to highlight text, get definitions, and notes. Every time you see a class for check out, remind them about the ebooks and the technology behind them. As students continue to move into a digitized world, they will see even more success if we arm them with those tools now and remind them that every student can benefit from assistive technology.

4. Host a community ebook night.

There is certainly trepidation about online reading for many parents and community members. The idea of students looking at a screen for any extended amount of time can be an unsettling thought to many who have not used or accessed an ebook before. Hosting a night where parents and community can come in and interact with your ebooks, ask questions, and learn about the technology, will help put their minds at ease and also give them the knowledge that they need to help their students check out books through the online catalog while at home. Have parents or community members who can’t make it? It can be digital, too! One of the best parts of embracing one part of technology is it lends itself to many other parts. Host a digital night, live stream, or have a digital read aloud with community members using one of your ebooks.

5. Help your teachers embrace ebooks.

Many teachers see another added digital component as a distraction and worry that this will hinder their classroom instruction rather than help it. However, textbooks are almost all completely digital now, and students are becoming more acclimated to online reading. Sometimes your teachers just need you there to offer a little support. If there is a class with students who cannot look at their phone without immediately going to social media, work with the teacher to start with small literature ebook circles where students can be actively monitored. If they have students on completely different learning levels, work with them to encourage the use of the assistive technologies in ebooks. Reminding teachers that you are there to help with hiccups and hurdles can ease their mind when moving into something completely new. 

Here’s the bottom line: the digital world isn’t going to stop coming. In fact, it has already arrived. Technology like ebooks can do wonders for our libraries and our students. Let’s learn to use it to our advantage and to teach our students that a love of reading can stem from anywhere – even the screen right in front of them.

Did you know that April is School Library Month? TCEA will feature a guest article written by a member librarian once a week throughout the month! April also includes:

How will you show appreciation for your librarian, media specialist, and library staff?


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