“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations- something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.”
–Katherine Paterson, Author of Bridge to Terabithia

Nov. 9-13 is National Young Readers Week, a celebration of reading founded by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The essence of what engages children, as illustrated in Katherine Paterson’s quote above, hasn’t changed since the week was founded. New digital technology, however, provides additional opportunities for young readers to savor their favorite stories.

OverDrive library partners know the value of digital books: Easy, anytime access and portability to take books on the go. Some libraries are even promoting digital audiobooks to kids and teens directly on the youth-oriented sections of their websites. Most young readers today have an iPod® or MP3 player with them all the time. Reminding kids and teens they can use their beloved device to listen to the books they adore expands opportunities to engage young readers.

Cindy Orr previously posted on the Digital Library Blog about the different ways of reading in the 21st century, and many schools are embracing digital media devices as a way to get students to read more. This article in the New York Times describes how using the iPod in the classroom has helped a school with a large bilingual population improve English skills. And many studies, like this one from Plugged into Reading and Recorded Books, show just how effective audiobooks can be for building confidence in students who struggle with reading.

OverDrive has developed two services that allow schools to provide audiobooks to their students: School Download Library and AudioBook Classroom. School Download Library, which works like our download service for public libraries, also has thousands of eBooks available for lending. By determining how young readers interact with books, providing different formats—printed books, eBooks, and audiobooks—gives students an opportunity to interact with books in the way that best fits them.

It’s certainly true that kids and teens need books that are “worth reading.” When you provide young readers with easy access to those books in their preferred format, the chance that they become lifelong readers only improves.

Libraries, are you promoting your download collection to young readers during National Young Readers Week?  Schools, have you discovered the power of audiobooks and eBooks in the classroom? Tell us what you are doing to take advantage of digital technology to engage young readers.

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