Obama promotes reading in meeting with students

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Obama Pushes Reading Through Electronic Books.

President Obama speaks during a live virtual field trip with students from around the country at the Anacostia Library.(Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images) WASHINGTON — President Obama unveiled new reading programs and plugged the value of the desire to learn Thursday during a “virtual field trip” for middle school students. President Obama told a group of middle-school students Thursday that he’ll likely go back to his work as a community organizer after leaving the White House. “I’ll still be a pretty young man” after leaving the White House, he added, and will go back to helping people, bringing business into communities that need it.

President Obama announced Thursday that a string of major book publishers have pledged $250 million in donations to help low-income kids access electronic versions of around 10,000 of the most popular titles in children’s literature.Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama visited a public library in Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood, one of the poorest areas in the District, Thursday to announce two new efforts to bolster reading among children in low-income areas.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 81% of D.C. 4th graders read below grade level — a problem not unique to the nation’s capital. President Barack Obama was to announce the two initiatives Thursday at a Washington library as part of his two-year-old ConnectED program that aims to improve education through digital connectivity.

The president announced his plans to provide educational materials to low-income students in the public library of one of Washington’s poorest neighborhoods, Anacostia. This comes after the President linked some of the racial tension between police officers and communities to education and lack of opportunity Wednesday, saying the society’s responsibility was to rebuild these impoverished communities. The offer of e-books comes as low-income households still lag far behind others in computer ownership, but White House officials said libraries and schools in poor communities are increasing access to the Internet. The president told students that he wanted to be an architect when he was young, and then aspired to be a basketball player, but “I wasn’t that good.” When the president gave a rather long answer to a student’s question about how to beat writer’s block, the boy eventually cut off Mr. Obama told the students that how well they do in life is going to depend on whether they love reading and learning, and whether they know how to find information and use it.

But some critics have pointed out that the e-readers and other electronic devices necessary for reading e-books may not be readily available for all students. The event was moderated by a sixth grader from Salisbury, Maryland, who asked questions submitted by students across the country, some of whom were watching the event on a livestream in their classrooms.

At the same time, Obama will appeal to library directors, local governments and school officials to work together to provide universal access to library cards. Obama spoke about his favorite books growing up — a list that ranged from Hardy Boys mysteries to The Lord of The Rings to The Great Gatsby — and his own writing career as the author of three books. At one point, Obama noted that his presidency will end in less than two years, and that he planned to do some kind of community work during his post-White House years.

A US Census Bureau study of computer and Internet use demonstrated that only 62 percent of households with incomes under $25,000 owned a computer, compared to 88 percent of households nationwide. But, he said, “the truth of the matter is we live in a digital age.” Obama said e-books are “easy to carry” and that making them available free of charge to people who don’t have a lot of books or who can’t afford to buy many “can even things out between poor kids and rich kids,” who can afford them.

Zients cited a study that found households in middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child, while in low-income neighborhoods that ratio is one book for every 300 children. “By expanding kids’ access to books, we can help foster a love of learning and build the reading skills needed more than ever in the 21st century.” Several major publishers, including Simon & Shuster, Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, will make about 10,000 popular e-books, more than $250 million, available to low income students. The second part of President’s announcement Thursday is the ConnectED Library Challenge, with the goal of putting a library card in every child’s hand to ensure they have access to not only books, but public internet. Obama did not speak on the racial tensions and recent rioting in Baltimore at the event, Zients indicated this initiative is one way the administration is addressing issues in poverty-stricken cities saying “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 program will draw on $2 billion in private-sector commitments and funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for school and library connectivity, which includes $2 billion specifically for Wi-Fi.

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