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President Obama Announces New Initiative to Give Free E-Books to Low-Income Children

First Posted: Apr 30, 2015 04:29 PM EDT
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President Barack Obama stopped by a public library in one of Washington's poorest neighborhoods on Thursday to announce his plan to give low-income children free access to 10,000 e-books.

While speaking at Anacostia Library in Southeast Washington, D.C., the president discussed his new initiative to bolster reading among children from low-income homes. The White House says that the plan to give disenfranchised children access to digital books is part of a larger strategy to address the problems that inner city youth face, including the lack of educational opportunities.

"The problem is clear, and it's also clear that access to books is part of the solution," said Jeff Zients, a chief economic adviser to the President, according to CNN.

The Obama Administration cut a $250 million e-book deal with major publishers, including Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc, and Penguin Random House.

"If we're serious about living up to what our country is about, then we have to consider what we can do to provide opportunities in every community, not just when they're on the front page, but every day," said Zients, reports Reuters.

Zients also cited a study that found that 80 percent of low-income children do not meet the reading standards of their grade level. The research also revealed that households in middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child, while in working class homes, that ratio drops to one book for every 300 children.

"By expanding kids' access to books, we can help foster a love of learning and build the reading skills needed more than ever in the 21st century," he said.

While speaking to the students in the room, Obama also encouraged the girls to study math and science, saying "sometimes young women aren't going into some of those areas like math and science as much and they should.  It's not because they don't know how to do it, but it's because they are discouraged by the idea that it's traditionally more of a boy thing."

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