President Barack Obama announced a new program on Thursday aimed at delivering access for more than 10,000 e-books to financially strapped schoolchildren throughout the United States. The $250 million program will feature titles from numerous publishers including Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette, selected by volunteers from Digital Public Library of America. The New York Public Library has signed on to develop the free app. "It's very different than from our generation," Cecilia Muñoz, Obama's domestic policy adviser, told Reuters. "More and more, you're going to be seeing kids using devices, and what we're doing is making sure that there's more books available on those devices."
As the president's top economic advisor Jeff Zients pointed out to Reuters, research shows that some 80 percent of low-income children are behind the rest of their grade in terms of reading skills. Few of them have books at home. That's why Obama's program will also work with local libraries, boosting their enrollment of local kids in order to provide them with hardware necessary to enjoy these books. Each age-appropriate title will be made available from the publishers' online libraries, though there's no word on whether the e-title will be given away or simply checked out as traditionally lent books are. Still, any excuse to get kids into the library is a good one.
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