eReaders & eBooks in the Classroom

What am I going to do with an eReader in my classroom?!

Purchasing eBooks

Book View Cafe, an author run epublisher, is offering books at a great discount to libraries. It offers an “All You Can Read” program at 45% off retail for libraries. Here is the article from The Digital Shift talking about the new group.

I like how in the article, quotes from some of the authors in Book View Cafe want to get their books out to libraries unlike many publishers who are afraid of eBooks and their ease in illegally downloading. Here’s the question I have to ask, “How many of us buy books and just keep them to ourselves?” Even personal collections, many of us borrow books. Some of us go out and purchase our own copies, but any just borrow. I know that’s not illegal, but it does cost publishers in the long run… Just a thought.

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New app takes non-fiction to a visual level

ReadWriteWeb published this article,, about Citia. Citia is an app that “deconstructs” a non-fiction book into chunks of information (does this sound familiar, educators? Chunking text… ARI…) and visualizes it into smaller bits of information. The book is then in app form through Citia. It is an option, and something interesting to look at the future of non-fiction eBooks (possibly). Check it out. 

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Updating Policies to include eReaders

The librarians in our system had a meeting of the minds in February to update our existing library policies to include eReaders and eBooks (we called it digital content or whatever). Here is a DRAFT (not yet approved or anything! Wish it had, and don’t know status as of yet.) of the policy that our system librarians, bookkeeper, and assistant superintendent drafted at a very long meeting:



Appendix A – Draft Policy

Library Digital Collection Policy

The [Insert School System] Library Policy is being updated to include the development of the library’s digital collection. This digital collection includes but is not restricted to electronic reading (e-readers) devices, tablet computers, electronic books and resources.

The digital library collection will serve all Kindergarten through 12th grade students in all [Insert School System] Schools. The purpose of the development of the Digital Library Collection is to grant a diversified means of delivering information to our students with a variety of modalities, abilities, and learning styles. The digital library collection will enable students to read books in a variety of formats which include accessibility features such as large print, text-to-speech, and contrast capabilities. The content to be included but not limited to in the digital library collection will be e-format library books, textbooks, and other classroom or school documents.

When checked out from the library, the digital items may be checked out for a total of two (2) weeks, as the current library policy states for print items. The digital item may only be renewed one (1) and the digital item must be presented to the library to be renewed. If a digital item is overdue, the assessed fine will be $1.00 per day.

The digital item(s) borrowed must be returned in the same condition it was loaned to the patron. The patron understands he or she is responsible for damage or replacement fees at the original cost. The replacement and damage fees are based on the brand, model, and original cost of the digital item.  If the digital item is a kit that includes other items, the replacement or damage fees will include the additional items included in the kit.

The digital library collection is of optional use to students. At this time, it will not be required of a patron to use the digital collection. The digital collection is an optional and alternative to the traditional print-based delivery of information and materials to patrons.



Appendix B – Patron Digital Devices Usage Agreement

Patron Digital Devices Usage Agreement

[Insert School System Name]

I, as the patron, agree:

  1. The borrowing period for the digital device kit to include the following items device, USB cord/charging adapter is two (2) weeks.
    1. The patron may renew the digital device more one (1) time. (Total of 4 weeks loan) For renewal, the digital device kit must be presented to the librarian to be scanned for renewal.
    2. Upon return of the digital device kit, the librarian will inspect the condition of the digital device and assess many fees based on the payment schedule in the [Insert School System] Digital Library Collection policy.
    3. I will return the digital device kit loaned to me by [Insert School System] in the same condition it was loaned to me. If the e-reader device is lost, stolen, damaged while it is loaned to me, I understand I am responsible for overdue, damage, or replacement fees up to the original value of the device.
      1. The overdue fine on the digital device kit will be $1.00 for every day the item is overdue.
      2. Estimated Replacement Costs

i.     Nook – $100.00 – $300.00

ii.     Kindle – $100.00 – $200.00

iii.     Tablet Device – $100.00 – $500.00

iv.     Case – $25.00 – $50.00

v.     USB Cable/Power Cord – $15.00 – $30.00

vi.     Total Replacement Cost of digital device – $140.00 –  $500.00

  1. Any existing content on the digital device will not be deleted.

i.     If content is deleted, the student will be responsible for any charged involved in repurchasing the content.

  1. I will be the sole user of the e-reader during the loan period. I understand that if I allow another student to borrow, I will be responsible for any damages or fees in the event the e-reader is lost or damaged.
  2. I will not register the digital device with any other account or sync with a computer.
  3. I will not purchase content for the digital device without permission from the librarian.

By signing below, I agree that I have read and understand the above statements and I agree to abide by them.

Print Student Name: ______________________________________________


_________________________________________                                                                        _______________
Student Signature                                                                                                                                                Date

_________________________________________                                                                        ________________
Parent/Guardian Signature                                                                                                                              Date



Appendix C – Emerging Technologies/Electronic Devices Policy*


*This is included because the emerging technologies policy had already been adopted at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. I would definitely suggest the mobile technology policies be updated especially when you are wanting to deliver eBooks to eReaders your students own already.



The Pike County Schools System recognizes that the use of technology always requires attempts to balance the benefits against the possibilities of danger, security problems, and abuse. Rapid changes in technology and growth in the range of content available makes this a constant challenge. Thus, it is the intention of the Pike County School System that all technology resources be used in accordance with any and all school system policies and procedures as well as local, state and federal laws and/or guidelines governing the usage of technology and its component parts.


Personal technology-related devices that enhance classroom instruction such as, but not limited to laptops, iTouch/iPods/iPads, e-readers, cameras or other eDevices, etc. can be used on school grounds with the permission of the local school administration and the classroom teacher. Students should also have a signed permission form from their parent authorizing them to bring the technology to school. The student should take the technology to the designated teacher before school begins. These items are subject to all policies and procedures covered in the Pike County Schools Acceptable Usage Policy, Code of Conduct, Policy Manual, and other applicable published guidelines.


See Cell Phone Use Policy 8.63 for use of cell phones at school.


No technologies may be purchased, brought to campus, or used to access school system resources that interfere with or adversely affect functions or operations of school system technology resources/infrastructure. The user should not access local area network or wide area network resources that require authentication without the explicit permission of the technology staff. Public internet access is available for visiting devices and is subject to the conditions outlined in Pike County School’s technology policies and all other school system policies and guidelines, as well as local, state, and federal laws.


All personal electronic devices will adhere to the same technology protection measures (or “internet filters”) as school/school system devices to deny access to inappropriate information.


Any device that provides personal wireless internet services on school campuses is strictly prohibited.


To maintain network integrity and to insure that the network is being used responsibility, if any policy violation or inappropriate behavior is suspected, the Pike County Schools technology staff reserve the right to inspect any and all data, including data stored by individual users on individual school or personal devices. Users should be aware that activities may be monitored anytime without notice.


Any student or employee found in violation of this policy may be subject to suspension or other disciplinary action by the school administration and/or the Pike County Board of Education.


The school/school system is not responsible for the loss, damage, or theft of any electronic device brought to school or to a school event. The security of these devices is the sole responsibility of the student.







Appendix D – Textbooks Payment Schedule

Textbooks Payment Schedule

All the textbooks furnished free of charge to students shall remain the property of the State of Alabama and the Board. A receipt shall be signed by each student upon issuance of any textbooks by school officials. The parent, guardian, or other person having custody of the student to whom the textbooks are issued shall be held liable for any loss, abuse, or damage to state-owned textbooks.

Failure to pay the School System for a lost or damaged book will result in non-issuance of other textbooks. The amount of payment for loss or managed textbooks to the School System shall be determined by the following schedule:

1st Year Original Cost
2nd Year 75% of original cost
3rd year 50% of original cost
4th year 25% of original cost
5th year 25% of original cost

Reimbursement will be made to students who relocate textbooks after payment is made to the School System and upon presentation of payment receipt based on the four-year schedule shown above.

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Audio + eBooks = Help for struggling readers

I stumbled upon Librivox while searching for Social Studies resources, but it’s a wonderful tool — especially if you have an eReader that does not have a text-to-speech capability. The books are in audio format and are free because all the books are consider part of the public domain.

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Books for Reluctant Readers – A series of four books (more to come) that follow a group of four kids as they delve into literature — literally. As they “travel” through four classic children’s books. The text links to the original children’s book text.

In an article from Mind/Shift, Audrey Watters (follow her on Twitter @audreywatters) argues for what many of us already use in the classroom — graphic novels. There are graphic novels available in eBook form.

Another article by Audrey Watters shows more animated eBooks.

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How can eReaders help my students?

Here is a few thoughts as to why eReaders, eBooks, or digital texts/content can help your students:


  • Text-to-speech capabilities
  • Large print
  • contrasting on eInk & backlit devices
Will eReaders excite students to read or read more? Probably not, but it might encourage those who do not like to read. It might excite those who are on the edge of liking and not liking to read. You never know.
Another perspective, from the library, some students read off-grade level and are embarrassed to get the correct leveled books because other students may make fun of them. On a digital device or computer, no classmate would know what he or she was reading just by the cover. It could help give that push of confidence. Who knows, but it’s worth a try, right?

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iBooks Author App

Are you ready to take the plunge into authoring your own books? Take a look at the recently released (and free) iBooks Author app.

Here’s the great features of Books Author:

  • Multi-Touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more
  • Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts for a quick start
  • Add accessibility descriptions to any widget so that it can be used by sight-impaired readers easily with VoiceOver
  • Export to iTunes U or iBooks or save as a PDF
Books can be downloaded via iTunes U or iBooks and read on an iPad, but with the capability of exporting it as a PDF, then you will be able to read it on a computer, mobile device, or an eReader device able to read PDFs.
Here is a FREE 110-page tutorial e-book on the iBooks Author App.

Here’s what it looks like: (screenshots from

Template Browser

Just like Keynote, iBooks Author comes packed with a variety of different book templates that authors can use as a starting place to design their books.

Cover View

The cover can be customized to showcase the book.

Layout Options

Each template comes with a number of different layout options, both in portrait and landscape, that the user can customize.

Intro Video

Books created in iBooks Author can include an introductory video for a more rich multimedia experience.


The user can build a glossary into the book.

Table of Contents

The table of contents can be customized and labeled. It automatically updates based on what options and elements are chosen in the program.

Chapter Layouts

The “Chapter” section has different layout options for a chapter title page or for a “preface” page.

Section Layouts

Section layouts can include text accompanied with graphics, forward or copyright information or standard layout text.

Page Layouts

There are multiple page layouts to choose from, including one, two and three column pages. Users can also insert blank pages.

Import Chapter Content

Users can import text directly for a chapter from a Pages or Word file.

The formatting within that file is preserved when possible and text size and line height can be adjusted as usual.

Widget Types

Numerous interactive widgets can go inside pages. These include interactive images, 3D objects, video or other types of media, photo slideshows and Keynote presentations. Users can also insert quiz questions or custom HTML widgets.

Landscape View

A chapter layout page as it will appear in landscape.

Portrait View

That same chapter page in portrait mode.

Interactive Image Controls

Interactive images include animation control points. If you have used Keynote, the controls will be familiar.

Keynote Widget

Speaking fo Keynote, full Keynote presentations, including animations, can be inserted into an iBook.

iPad Preview

Users can preview their books on the iPad before publishing. Simply connect an iPad to your Mac, open iBooks and then click the “Preview” icon. A proof will be sent to the device.

iBooks 2 Proof View

Proof copies have a special designation in the Library of iBooks 2.

iBooks 2 Cover View Landscape

The cover of our book in landscape.

iBooks 2 Cover View Portrait

The cover in portrait

iBooks 2 Table of Contents

The table of contents.

iBooks 2 Chapter Landscape

The landscape chapter view.

iBooks 2 Portrait

The portrait chapter view.

iBooks 2 Widgets

Widgets within the app.

iBooks 2 Keynote Widget

The Keynote widget.

iBooks 2 Keynote Fullscreen

When in full screen, the user can control the presentation and its action as if it were a regular presentation.

iBooks 2 Notes

iBooks 2 includes an area for users to keep their own notes and highlights in a book.

I see where is a great use for this app within my own classroom as a teacher. The possibilities I find intriguing are getting away from many of the state- or district-adopted textbooks that many of us do not use except for reference every-now-and-then and creating study guides or chapters of text that are interactive for students. In a way, this helps to “flip” the classrooms and make them zones of discussion and project-based learning rather than spending our time drilling the information.
In turn, is this something a student could use to create a meaningful project? Yes! Think of the multi-genre or multimedia research or PBL projects that can be created using this tool.
Like any technology or tool, there is a learning curve. Download the app on your OS X device and start playing around with. The positive, we have the summer to create some awesome, interactive texts our students will benefit from.
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Authoring eBooks

Now that you know what resources are out there, maybe you want to create your own eBooks. It’s cool to be an author, right? Publish your own materials — whether it be offered for free or for a fee. Here are some softwares that can get you started on your way. Also, here’s a thought: Students publishing their own eBooks! We will talk more about that later.

(Stark, Chelsea 28 January 2012

 In addition to these software offerings there are other ways to publish:

Kindle Publishing Programs – Downloads for this program is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux — It’s free to publish. Books need to be in digital format such as PDF.

PubIt! by Barnes and Noble (for Nook) – Easy to follow instructions on creating a book to be downloaded to the Nook.

     There is apparently an app for the Nook Color that allows for quick publication (built with kids in mind) called Draw Write Read. Check it out — it’s $1.99

iBooks Author – This app is to be downloaded to your iMac or MacBook in order to create eBooks for the iBooks store.

Kobo Writing Life – Allows you to write and upload your book to the Kobo store.

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Comparing eReaders

Not sure which ereader you want to purchase?  The following links give you pros and cons of different versions.

PC World

eReader Leader gives a few comparisons between major brands and their different versions as well as a list of things to look at when you are considering what ereader to buy.

Wikipedia also has an article that compares ereaders, including some name brands of ereaders that you may not be quite as familiar.

WikiHow – How to Choose an eBook Reader gives a step-by-step guide for what to look for when choosing an ereader.

TechRepublic – Comparing the Top Four eReader Apps gives a comparison of four free ereading apps for smartphones.

SummitSeries for Families has an article that not only compares apps for use on smartphones, but for tablets and computers, too!

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Online eBooks

Children’s Literature Online

MeeGenius – Colorfully illustrated read aloud eBooks available on your computer or iPad. You can register for a school account to receive a free library of many classic children’s books. Books are available for purchase for fairly cheap. The app and website has the options to read aloud or not, highlight words, and flip pages automatically or manually.

Children’s Storybooks Online – A very simple website that provides teachers and children with illustrated books online. The books have text below the illustration. The user clicks links to progress through the book.

Big Universe $ – A subscription based repository of online books. These books can be read online and are aligned to many reading programs such as Lexile and Accelerated Reader. The other great option it possesses, your students can create books online that can be shared with other classmates, or students in the school, to be read online.

Speakaboos – $ The link is to the old, non-beta, website that provides animated read alouds for children. There are Spanish books available. Take a look at the new in-beta-testing website. It is for subscription, but there are 10 free stories for trial.

Children’s Books Online – Providing classic children’s tales, the books are scanned to provide teachers and students with original illustrations. Pages are advanced through clicking the arrow linked to the next JPEG file. Many of the books are available in multiple languages such as Italian, Dutch, and Spanish depending upon the book. Multimedia and audio books are available by purchasing the file.

Oxford Owl – Free online children’s books. The books provide illustrations with audio read alouds. Some books do not have works to go along with audio, but those are for younger ages. Many of the books have games/activities to go along. These games include sequencing.

Children’s Books Forever – Free PDF versions of children’s books are available for download. Books from other countries are available as well.

International Children’s Digital Library – Great digital library of a diverse set of children’s books. Many of the books are scanned and are easily navigated to and from by younger students. Books can be “found” by color, characters, animals, and other means of searching. Very students friendly. The books available are in a variety of languages and provides literature from a variety of cultures.

TumbleBooks – $ Subscription based online eBooks for younger students. “TumbleBookLibrary is an online collection of TumbleBooks – animated, talking picture books which teach kids the joy of reading in a format they’ll love. TumbleBooks are created by adding animation, sound, music and narration to existing picture books in order to produce an electronic picture book which you can read, or have read to you.” (from the TumbleBook website)

Classic Reader – Classic Reader is an excellent place to find free classic ebooks. The site has a special section for young readers with more than 200 of the world’s best loved classics.

Young Adult (YA) and above

Free – An app for Android and iOS operating systems can be downloaded to read the books on devices with those operating systems. Online reading, downloading PDF and .txt files are free, but payment is required for ePub and Mobi files. – is a great place to find classics, short stories, novels and plays for older children. The site also has a small collection of picture books for younger readers who enjoy illustrations with their text. – This no-frills website has more than 130 free ebooks for children in MP3 format. Books can be downloaded to any computer and burned to a CD.

Read Print – The Read Print library hosts thousands of free ebooks and poems, many of which are suitable for children. Most of the books on Read Print are classics, such as Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Here is a link to an article by Children’s Book Review’s on “Where to find Free eBooks for Children.” We found many of these great sites via this article. Thanks Children’s Book Review!

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