100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Lending E-Readers in the School Library (Part I: Background)

I believe it was the immortal Gary Wright who sang it best:

E-readers, I believe you can get me through the ni-hiiiiiiiight

We just rolled out an e-reader lending program in my school library and I plan to share the ups, downs, and what-to-look-out-fors along the way in these here pages. In upcoming installments, I’ll get into the planning, implementation, and evaluation if the program. But today, a bit of background. Let’s hop into the time machine and go back to the halcyon days of August 2011…

Each year, my school district’s education foundation offers an Innovation Grant to school employees.  Any teacher interested in implementing a project that incorporates unique or innovative components with the goal of benefiting students is encouraged to apply. For me and my secondary colleague, an e-reader lending program was a no-brainer – for a few reasons:

  • It would allow all students to access to this relatively new form of technology, especially those who would not otherwise have access due to socioeconomic status.
  • It would generate excitement in reading. A bit of hype never hurt, right?
  • E-reader features (adjustable fonts, highlighting, note-taking) would benefit all students, and particularly those with visual impairments.
  • Other schools were seeing success with their e-reader programs, like the one implemented by librarian Buffy Hamilton and featured in School Library Journal.

We outlined these benefits in our program goals, put together a timeline for reaching them, and sent the whole thing to the powers that be.

If this was a cooking show, this is where I’d put the grant application in the oven, and pull out another application with the words APPROVED written on top. That was an exciting email to receive.

Now might be a good time to mention that if you’re an educator looking for grant opportunities, FableVision has a nice list you can subscribe to for free. Click here to check it out.

Our grant allowed us to purchase 10 e-readers to spread among our 5th and 6th grade elementary building, middle school, and high school. While this isn’t a huge number of devices, it does give us the chance to get a handle on things before expanding the program. And it will definitely need expanding.

Next, we had some decisions to make.

To Be Continued…

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. This may be the nerdiest thing that has ever put me on the edge of my seat! I can’t wait to hear more!

  2. Can’t wait to hear more about your journey into e readers. Think they have huge potential in schools. I have a question about e readers and am wondering if you have any experience in this area. I have a hs son who has some learning disabilities and hates to read. I think he would like an ereader with an auditory function. I have a Kindle and an iPad– do you know if you can set either of those up so that the reader can SEE the text but also hear it? He doesn’t want to just do books on tape. Thanks so much for any help or wisdom you might be able to offer.

    • I know that Kindle allows that feature on books. I think it doesn’t apply to every book, though, only ones the publisher allows. I don’t have experience with an iPad, so I unfortunately can’t help you there.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing the details of this process. I speak to many school librarians at work(bookseller)and help out at my son’s school library when I can and there is a lot of talk about eReaders in the library but I don’t know anyone who actually has them yet. Good to know the ups and downs of your experiences.

    • It’s been very cool so far the see the positive reception. I look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks.

  4. I work at FableVision Learning — we just wanted to quickly thank you for sharing the link to our free grants website! We appreciate that you’re spreading the word, and we’re glad that you find our site to be a helpful resource. And congratulations on receiving your grant — we wish you the best of luck with your new e-readers!

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