eBooks info

Using eBooks in school

What are eBooks?

eBooks are electronic versions of printed books which give pupils and teachers a new way of interacting with words and pictures on screen. A growing number of schools around the country are using eBooks as part of their teaching – engaging reluctant and struggling readers with the increased functionality and personalised reading experience.

  • Use on the whiteboard and/or laptops or netbooks for guided reading sessions
  • Network for independent and group reading on desktops, laptops or even hand-held devices
  • Add to your school’s VLE or network for pupils to access independently at home or in the library

Click below to view a walkthrough of the different types of eBooks and how you can use them in your classroom.

‘Using eBooks made me enjoy reading better’
Year 9 student


‘The effects of using eBooks are hugely positive – leading to an increase in comprehension, motivation and overall attainment’
Jenny Langley, Manchester Academy

How can I use eBooks in my school?

The success of eBooks with learners is significant – the image associated with technology rather than paper gives reading a new, modern and ‘cool’ feel, the increased functionality means that pupils can interact more fully with the text and the reading experience can be personalised to motivate and enthuse all pupils.

Recent research by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) has shown that the gender gap in reading ability between boys and girls is much narrower when they are reading digital texts rather than print-based texts.

Boys’ interest and abilities in digital reading could be exploited to start a ‘virtuous cycle’ through which more frequent reading of digital texts would result in better digital reading proficiency, which, in turn, would lead to greater enjoyment of reading and better proficiency in print reading as well.

PISA report, Jan 12

eBooks on Whiteboards

eBooks on interactive whiteboards can be used in a similar fashion to big books, displaying text and images to the whole class at once. With the ability to zoom in and out of text and images, the teacher can ensure each pupil’s eyes are looking at the right part of the book on the board, rather than gazing over the whole page. This also enables teachers to maximise the touch-screen interactive nature of the whiteboard to hone in on specific words with which the class may be unfamiliar, including those with unusual spellings. Many eBooks have in-built glossaries and dictionaries meaning that it is a simple clickthrough process from the word on the page to showing pupils a written definition of the word on screen. If terms within the definition are also unknown to the learner, these too can be immediately understood by clicking through again.

eBooks on PCs, netbooks or laptops

On a smaller scale, eBooks can be used on PCs or laptops to facilitate children working together in groups or pairs. With a mouse and keyboard, children can answer questions embedded by their teacher together. eBooks, when used on PCs and/or with a whiteboard offer a new and effective approach to guided reading.

eBooks on iPads and iPod Touches

Many schools are now investing in various Apple devices to use in class. eBooks are a great addition to your iPad or iPod Touch content – simply add them to iTunes to sync with your device, where they will be added to your iBooks app.

The full colour Rising Stars eBooks work particularly well on screen.

eBooks for less able and reluctant readers

eBooks have proved particularly successful with low-ability and reluctant readers. They offer a degree of privacy that is not possible with paperbacks. Many teachers will recognise the embarrassment felt by learners who have a lower reading ability than their peers. Humiliation felt from struggling with a babyish book when their peers are steaming ahead with age-appropriate materials can erect a great barrier to reading and have a demotivating effect. When eBooks are read on handheld devices, children have been known to read them on the bus, confident in the knowledge that those around them will not know whether they are playing a game or reading. In addition to reading any level of book that they want, free from the scrutiny of their peers, this ‘camouflage’ of the eBook also allows learners to read and re-read books until they feel comfortable and confident to move on to trickier texts. As confidence and motivation are often the key to becoming successful readers, the freedom from peer pressure can have a great effect.

To view a short film on how one local authority is using eBooks in the classroom click on the link below – or click here to download a free guide to using eBooks in schools.

Case study

Marie Buckland from Oakhill First School in Redditch describes her experience of using eBooks in her classroom:

“Using eBooks with my groups of reluctant Year 3 readers working at Level 1 has been a real revelation. I find that the use of technology motivates and engages reluctant and struggling readers. Using PDAs enhances the quality of our sessions as the children are so enthusiastic that they quickly learn to use the technology in order to navigate the books with ease. I downloaded a Kids & Co. story for my guided reading session. They really engaged the children through familiar but humorous contexts, and within a term, both groups moved away from slowly decoding word-by-word in a monotone voice to reading enthusiastically with fluency, expression and UNDERSTANDING of the text. The illustrations were great for stimulating good discussion about the possible plot of the story and, enlarged on an a whiteboard, provided great opportunities to teach specific vocabulary related to the story by playing matching games, using the highlighting functionality and adding annotations.”