America’s favorite ebook library and educational platform, OverDrive, has announced a new initiative for schools. “To promote reading, encourage digital learning and support literacy goals, OverDrive is partnering with award-winning publishers like Dawn Publications, Lerner Publishing Group, Britannica Digital Learning and ABDO Publishing,” declares the announcement. “OverDrive’s K-5 QuickStart offers young readers a premium collection of 200 eBooks, including Read-Alongs such as A Promise is a Promise, The Mallory Series and Noisy Bug Sing-Along, picture books and other engaging titles. These eBooks are instantly available with simultaneous access for every K-5 student in class, at home and everywhere, both online and offline.”
Details of the full QuickStart service are available here, with information on the actual 200 titles offered here. According to these, all titles are “available for simultaneous use – no waiting.” Furthermore, “QuickStart eBooks can be opened instantly in the browser with no software or downloads required. Students can read the same book at the same time on PCs, tablets, Chromebooks and more, inside and outside school.” The new service will be offered for an annual subscription fee of $499 “per building.”
I’m not enough of an educationalist to know how useful and worthwhile the books offered are. The browser-based service could make quite a difference in convenience and accessibility for teachers, though. Plus, $2.50 per book per year for at least an entire classroom of students looks like a pretty reasonable deal. The only caveat I can see at first sight is that the service depends on and promotes OverDrive’s Read-Alongs: “eBooks featuring professionally recorded narration that plays while students read beautiful fixed-layout pages with graphics.” Otherwise, teachers and parents might want to scrutinize this offer carefully to see what it can do for kids.