Chickamauga Elementary School media specialist Marie Sikes is building an interactive school library this year through a new e-books online program. Five hundred titles of virtual books, 25 of which are interactive, are available to the students online.
"The way the kids are on tablets using technology, if you don't move forward with technology, then you move backward," said Sikes, although noting that there are still 7,000 hardback books also available to students on the library's shelves. "The good thing about it is the books never disappear. I have a whole cart of books in the back that are damaged. You lose a lot of physical books in a library."
Students can view the entire book and read related book reviews online. Through the school's e-book site, students can also write short reviews on the books they read. The e-books can be accessed by the school's students and teachers via a computer, iPad, Android or iPhone.
"I started e-books because I wanted students to use a computer," said Sikes. "The interactive books are awesome. They have tests to go with them and the books read to the kids."
Unfortunately, though, popular books like "Harry Potter" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" are not available through e-books, she said.
"Students can log into e-books in the classroom, computer lab or library," said Sikes, adding that the library has six student computers and a projector screen on which to display the e-books. "I look at the curriculum across the board when ordering e-books. The fourth grade is studying the solar system right now, so I ordered solar system books at their level.
"My future goal is to have a mobile lab of tablets."
The school's computer lab has 30 computers and each classroom has four or five computers and a SmartBoard.
Sikes said since the e-book program began in early 2012, she has counted that students have accessed the e-books 5,000 times. The craze tends to be more popular with the older students, she said, while the younger students still enjoy holding an actual hard copy book in their hands. Kindergartners and second-graders participate in an ongoing Read to a Buddy program in which the school's second-graders read a handheld hardback book to the kindergartners.
"I started a Web-based circulation program," said Sikes. "The parents can see the cover of the book their child checked out. The e-books site allows students and teachers to search online for books. It cut out the back and forth of running into the library to see if I had a book."