White House & NYPL Team Up for Children's Literacy

by Caitlin White

Back in 2013, President Obama launched the ConnectED initiative, which aimed to enhance learning with digital content. Now, he's doubling down on that promise, starting a new ConnectED national program #BooksforAll to give low-income children access to $250 million worth of free e-books, according to an email to Bustle from the New York Public Library Thursday.

With the negotiating help from the New York Public Library, all of the big five publishers are on board, along with several smaller publishers, to ensure their top titles, particularly in children's and YA, are available for children to access for free. This is the first time ever these publishers have together offered their e-books for free. Even cooler is the cover art and typography will be have new designs purely for this project, created by world-class artists.

In addition, libraries from more than 30 communities across the country have signed on to put a library card into every student's hand. In conjunction with the White House's efforts, the New York Public Library has developed an e-reader app that will allow access to not only the $250 million worth of free e-books from major publishers, but to the hundreds of literary classics available through the public domain. The NYPL will work with the nonprofit First Book to ensure e-readers can reach disadvantaged communities.

The NYPL president Tony Marx discussed this excitement about the project in a statement:

The New York Public Library is proud to participate in this important program, which will have tremendous social benefits in terms of literacy, and will mark a groundbreaking shift in how publishers provide e-books to the public. The program is certainly in line with the Library’s mission to make information – and by extension opportunity – available to all, and we look forward to working with the White House on this and other projects in the future. We also look forward to continuing our work with publishers, as we maneuver the relatively new, ever-changing world of e-content.

The NYPL has been committed to bringing digital access to communities across New York, making both devices an wireless internet available for free in all of its branches. Last year, the library started an initiative to loan out WiFi hotspots to families that don't have access to internet at home.

President Obama will make his announcement on these new projects that promote literacy Thursday, and it will begin in the fall.