“Because the books have audio with them, students can read and listen to books that are above their [reading] level, or they can read books at or below their level,” Brekhus said. “The theory … is [based] on [enabling] kids to get to the material that most interests them.”

He added: “We want kids to find books, because they’re typically not looking for books—that’s not their first choice [for entertainment]. The basic theory is that if you motivate kids to read, and you find them books that they’re interested in and that are challenging but not too challenging, they will read more and they will continue to read … and that’s a key goal.”

Capstone’s newest effort goes beyond other online reading environments in its attempt to personalize each student’s reading experience—but it’s also part of a larger trend by educational publishers to offer their material to students digitally.

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“Digital is becoming more and more of how this generation is growing up, so we looked at it as a great way to get electronic books in our kids’ hands,” said Carl Harvey II, a librarian at Indiana’s North Elementary School who has used the new myON service. “It can really help to pinpoint some targeted books we can use for instruction.”

Today’s students are considered “digital natives,” born after the internet was established, and their first choice for education or entertainment typically isn’t a book—at least not in its traditional form.

The eBooks being produced by companies like Scholastic Education and Capstone Digital introduce other interactive elements to the materials, in an effort to re-engage students in reading.