OverDrive Education Reports Rapid Increase in Ebook and Audiobook Adoption Since COVID-19 Outbreak

Glowing electronic image of open book
(Image credit: iStock/PashaIgnatov)

With brick-and-mortar schools closing down across the nation and the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are left without many of the most important learning materials they had access to previously. Books in print form are one such loss.

As a result, ebooks and audiobooks have become key for kids learning at home. More than 10,000 schools have adopted OverDrive Education’s Sora K-12 student reading app since the national emergency was declared on March 13, bringing the total to over 26,000 worldwide. 

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to building capacity in school libraries while students are learning from home,” said Eleanor Friedman, Supervisor of School Library System at Southern Westchester BOCES in New York. “Our partnership with OverDrive Education has allowed our school libraries to continue providing service and access to materials for our students, which is our utmost priority.” 

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, many publishers have provided popular and educational titles for a no-cost ebooks and audiobooks collection. This collection of 260+ titles includes favorites like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and curricular essentials like Call of the Wild to provide students and educators of all grade levels with the digital content they need to learn remotely.

“Since transitioning to distance learning, Sora enabled our teachers to assign digital novels they had previously taught in print, but no longer had access to,” said Shawn J. Maas, Media Specialist at Cypress Bay High School in Florida.   

Teachers can use Sora to assign titles to students and monitor their reading progress, while students can earn achievement badges for reaching reading milestones. The app also expands access to reading beyond curricular assignments, as students can use Sora to borrow leisure reading materials from both their school and local public library. 

Challenges with distance learning have also raised concerns about an early summer slide, as news reports reveal variable results from online instruction. To help slow the slide and ensure that students have access to digital books while school is closed, OverDrive Education has extended its summer reading program, Sora Sweet Reads. For the next two months, students can read popular juvenile and young adult ebooks like Black Panther (available through June 15), Ms. Marvel (available June 15-July 31) and Big Nate From the Top. Audiobook titles include Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and Akata Witch. 

For additional free resources, students and educators can register for the SYNC Audiobooks for Teens program, sponsored by AudioFile Magazine and powered by SoraTargeted at teens aged 13 and older, SYNC provides access to two free audiobooks per week in Sora over 13 weeks.