Electronic books (“eBooks”), which have become more and more popular in classrooms with each passing year, offer students unique experiences with texts.  In some cases the eBook simply serves as digital version of a curriculum text or trade book that students can access on a tablet at school or at home.  In other situations, the eBooks afford interactivity, such as links to vetted websites. Some eBooks even have the ability to provide students with access to a text that otherwise would be beyond their grasp due to a language barrier or disability. When designing the Core Knowledge American History and Geography™ (CKHG) Student Reader eBooks, we set out to offer students all of these options and much more.  

Access through Audio

For children who struggle with reading grade-level texts or those with visual impairments, eBooks with audio supports can provide access to text content. The CKHG eBooks not only offer students the ability to listen to the pronunciation of select words, they also provide students the option of hearing the entire story read aloud.  Students can also prompt the CKHG eBook to read aloud the vocabulary and questions in the callouts. 

Translated Text

Some eBooks offer a text in multiple languages.  CKHG eBooks provide students the option of reading (or listening) to the text in either English or Spanish.  Offering Spanish-speaking students the opportunity to access the history and geography content through their native language serves as a crucial step in building their knowledge base around a topic.

Video and Interactive Experience

Adding interactivity to eBooks transforms the experience with the text from passive to active.  This can include embedded interactive content or links to outside sites that provide students with a closer look at a particular event or concept. The CKHG eBooks are filled with interactive opportunities for the reader.  Whether its third graders exploring a photo gallery of Native American pottery, fourth graders listening to the poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, or fifth graders “experiencing” the start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter via video simulation, the supplemental activities made available through the eBooks deepen students’ engagement with text content.

eBooks that offer built-in assessments enable students to self-assess their learning and teachers to monitor their progress.  At the end of each chapter, CKHG eBooks offer students the option of responding to “checks for understanding” writing prompts. Each CKHG eBook also includes a digital assessment. This assessment has both standard response questions, such as multiple choice, which are automatically graded by the eBook software, as well as free written response questions, which allow students to provide an open-ended response. A criteria for success is provided (on the backend) to the assist the teacher in the scoring of the written responses.

Flexibility in Use

While eBooks can be used as part of the core instruction, if they incorporate a wide range of functionality, they can serve as effective independent instructional tools.  In the short time since their release, CKHG eBooks have been reported to be used as a part of listening centers for students to review a previously taught chapter, for struggling readers as added support, as homework for additional exposures to the text and content, and even used in a whole group setting via a projector.

Through the flexibility and accessibility they afford, eBooks deliver many benefits to teachers and students. Core Knowledge is very pleased to now offer eBooks that will not only enhance the students’ experience and engagement with content but also build their knowledge base. If you are interested in learning more about our interactive eBooks, contact us.

Interactive CKHG eBook Contact Request

Both school and parent annual licenses are now available. Check out our bookstore for more details.

Current List of CKHG Student Reader eBooks in Grades 3–5:  

Grade 3
• The Earliest Americans
• Exploration of North America 
• The Thirteen Colonies 

Grade 4

• The American Revolution
Click to explore the new Student eBook for The American Revolution for FREE,
and learn about the founding of our country.

• The United States Constitution 
• Early Presidents and Social Reformers 

Grade 5

• The Geography of the United States
• Westward Expansion Before the Civil War
• The Civil War
• Native Americans and Westward Expansion: Cultures and Conflicts


9 comments on “Student eBooks: Providing Access, Promoting Engagement”

  1. 1
    Rob Walters on November 3, 2019

    Is there a demo website for your ebooks?

    1. 2
      Jamie Talbot on November 13, 2019

      Yes, there is! The sample is linked to the blog post above and found at the following hyperlink:
      The American Revolution

  2. 3
    Rhonda Moody on November 17, 2019

    Thank you for sharing information about e-books and how they can increase student engagement and accessibility for all teachers. While I do not teach History or Geography, my Math students are required to interact with and learn from informational text (their Math textbook). I found the article interesting. The audio accessibility feature aligns perfectly with our Special Education and English language learner accommodations. Highlighting key math vocabulary and hearing critical-thinking questions would also benefit students in Math. The flexibility that the e-books provide was another feature that I was attracted to. Being able to utilize the e-books both in whole-group and small-group settings, and for introduction or remediation, would also provide an excellent resource to Math teachers. In your research, have you come across additional information on e-books for Math?

  3. 4
    Nancy Arledge on January 23, 2020

    In my district, we have begun a 1:1 initiative and are looking for ways to increase engagement. Currently, the Math textbook we use does have an online component, but it is more of just a PDF of the textbook. You show how beneficial and accommodating an ebook could be. In looking at the link provided I see that the books are all history-based. Do you know of any similar ebooks that are Math related?

  4. 5
    Geniene Johnson on January 31, 2020

    I like the idea of ebooks because of what you can do with them. In a classroom with different levels of readers this is perfect. I like that the students can get the books read to them and they are still able to participate in discussion because they were able to access the material at their level. These books also help with differentiating assignments and with the ability to change languages is also a great help in the classroom.

  5. 6
    Shyla F on May 24, 2020

    Ebooks are the future and healthier for the planet. It is also a way to a less expensive alternative for schools, in which such budget cuts could lead to more funding in other departments. The vast amount of opportunities is inclusive for all students, as you have pointed out. The use of ebooks also lessens the need to be responsible for one book when you can access that one on multiple devices. In the advancing modern age, ebooks are now the future.

  6. 7
    Sydline Justilien on January 27, 2021

    The information on the eBook was very informative. Even though I’m a Physical Education teacher, every Friday morning the entire school goes into reading and all teacher is asked to help no matter their subject area. The reading period was implemented due to many of our students are struggling with reading. Teachers have been using different strategies to make the reading period engaging for students. Implementing eBook during the reading period would be very engaging for the students. Students can read along, reading/listen alone or in a group.
    This would be perfect for my diverse learners. Sometimes with my diverse learners who English is their second language and have problems pronouncing words find the reading period difficult. They would hear a phase in English but doesn’t have a clear understanding of the meaning of the phase, with the eBook those students benefit in being able to turn the translation to their primary language. Also, be able to pronounce words.

  7. 8
    Rhashanna on May 27, 2021

    The information regarding e-books is rich. I enjoyed reading this post. I believe that the implementation of e-books would certainly foster engagement and promote student achievement. Technology continues to play an integral role in instruction. In my experience, it is important to use effective strategies and tools to ensure that students are active participants in the learning process. Sneed (2019, p. 98) purports that various online modalities must be used to foster engagement. Creating rich and innovative literacy environments through the use of e-books is critical to students’ performance.

    Sneed, 0. (2019). Fostering student engagement through an online community of learning: A mixed methods action research dissertation.

  8. 9
    Beverley A Pierre-Louis on September 22, 2021

    The eBook is perfect considering the times we live in. The idea that students will have access to the e-books when using technology mean they will not lose instructional time. It will be interesting to see more of this curriculums and how the student react to using it on their tablet.

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