During an appearance at a library in one of Washington, DC's poorest neighborhoods yesterday, President Obama unveiled a new plan to provide ebooks to some of the country's low-income children. The plan commits $250 million to give kids access to 10,000 digital books from all the major publishing houses, all through an e-reader app the New York Public Library is currently developing.
The plan is aimed at improving educational development for children in inner cities, and comes after the president made forceful comments about the plight of those living in poverty during the Baltimore riots. "If we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without, as a nation and as a society, saying, 'What can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity,' then we're not going to solve this problem," Obama said on Tuesday.
"If we’re serious about living up to what our country is about," said Jeff Zients, an adviser to the president on economic policy, "then we have to consider what we can do to provide opportunities in every community, not just when they’re on the front page, but every day."
The plan leans heavily on libraries to give kids access to new books
However, census data indicates that many lower-income households don't have mobile devices or access to broadband internet. To bridge that gap, the plan will lean heavily on libraries, and the White House is pushing for leaders in 30 communities to put library cards in kids' hands. "If families don't have access to devices at home," said US chief technology officer Megan Smith, "the children can get to the library and [get in] that habit." In addition, help from private sector companies like Apple, which pledged $100 million in iPads and other devices to classrooms last year, will help make it easier for students to read their new books.