President Obama will go to a public library in the District of Columbia's Anacostia neighborhood Thursday to announce two initiatives to promote reading among young people, including those in low-income households.
Nine major publishing houses will donate digital access to about 10,000 of their popular titles, worth about $250 million, to low-income students, administration officials said. In addition, about 30 towns and cities said they would introduce or press ahead with plans to put a library card in the hand of every student, a move that would help give lower income students access to digital books in libraries even if they lacked Internet access or devices at home.
The New York Public Library also said that it would develop an e-reader app that would provide greater access to classics already in the public domain for students age 4 to 18 from low-income families. Non-profit groups will help that effort.
Jeffrey Zients, chairman of the National Economic Council, said that the donations by "an honor roll or major publishers" would provide "opportunity for kids to develop a love of learning. Macmillan will provide unlimited access to about 2,500 titles for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Simon & Schuster will provide access to their entire e-catalog of books for children ages 4 to 14, about 3,000 titles.
He cited statistics that there are 13 books per child in middle-income neighborhoods but only one book for every 300 children in poor neighborhoods.
Zients said that the initiatives would build on the president's ConnectED initiative whose goal is to make sure that 99 percent of students are connected to high-speed broadband in their classrooms and libraries.