Published 12/2/2020 4:10 PM CT
By Ellen Popit, IHLS Associate Director
Since March of 2020, it would be a safe bet to say that the number of Illinois students with some type of tablet has skyrocketed. Last spring, and certainly through the 2020-2021 school year, those tablets got plenty of use—a very good thing.
Once Illinois began to shut down last March, a major priority for libraries of all types was support of remote learners. Programs already in place were ebook platforms that were developed through the eRead Illinois grant awarded to Illinois library systems in 2013. When funding was made available this fall by the Illinois State Library for grant programs through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, systems were offered the opportunity to submit grants for e-resources and IHLS made the decision that a major focus would be ebooks to support student learning.
Why? In the article The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure (2017, Edutopia), the author shares studies that demonstrate “…pleasure reading in youth is the most explanatory factor of both cognitive progress and social mobility over time” and “….pleasure reading is a more powerful predictor than even parental socioeconomic status and education attainment.” Illinois students still have a number of roller-coaster months ahead of them. A diverse and deep collection of ebooks easily accessible to students will make for a more level playing field across Illinois. Maybe those books are read for a literature unit or to support a social studies project, or maybe reading a graphic novel brightens up a dark December afternoon. With e-resources, no matter where a student is, new titles are at their fingertips. That availability might just make all the difference.