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Books are best in young people’s hands

favicon I love taking pictures of bookshelves. That’s because books are beautiful.

Here’s one:

Kathleen's classroom, San Francisco, CA.
Kathleen’s classroom, San Francisco, CA.

And another:

My home bookshelf circa 2014.
My home bookshelf circa 2014.

Aren’t they beautiful? I think so.

The only problem with books on bookshelves is that they’re on bookshelves, rather than in students’ hands. When books are on bookshelves, rather than in students’ hands, they’re not immediately accessible to students to read.

The Kindle Classroom Project believes that books should be universally accessible to students. Books should be mobile and ready to read. Like this:

10th grader at Envision Academy, Oakland, CA.
10th grader at Envision Academy, Oakland, CA.

By no means do I argue against homes, classroom libraries, school libraries, public libraries, bookstores, and other institutions that include bookshelves. After all, as a public, we do need to see physical books as part of our environment. There should be large, public displays of books — in order to celebrate books and what’s contained in them.

But if we’re really interested in having young people read books — especially young people who do not have easy access to books — we need to bring those books to them.

That’s what the KCP does. Students receive a Kindle and a library of 763 (and counting!) books. They get to keep their Kindle 24 hours a day for as long as they like until they graduate. This means reading can happen at school, on the bus, at home — and everywhere in between.

The accessibility doesn’t stop there. Let’s say a student finishes a book at home and wants to start another one, but the new book isn’t yet part of the Kindle Library. Thanks to the generosity of KCP supporters, the student requests the book on the new KCP website, and I buy it immediately when I receive the email notification. It’s a little like reading magic.

What’s also magic is that no books get worn out, no teacher has to keep track of books or spend time raising money for books, and no student has to remember to return books, or fear fines for losing books. Every bit of time can be spent reading and enjoying books.

The old way of promoting reading — by putting books on bookshelves and inviting students to approach them — has done little to change the landscape of which young people read vs. which do not. We need a new and better way — one that brings good books to young people, puts good books in their hands, and says, “Here you go. Please enjoy.” favicon

One comment

  1. Heidi

    I appreciate all the work you are doing to make reading more accessible. Even though I enjoy physical books, I am now curious about kindle!

Please share your brilliant insights!