From the Dept. of Public Health: Leveraging Technology to Get Kids Reading

There are many factors that impede reading proficiency in Georgia, but one major factor is access to books. By providing students “just-right” books, or books that are both engaging and at their reading level, the chances of establishing a student’s love of reading improve drastically.

Thanks to the continued partnership between myON and Get Georgia Reading: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, books are more accessible to kids in Georgia who are learning to read and reading to learn.

myON offers an extensive interactive digital library with more than 8,000 books geared for pre-K through 12th grade. With an internet connection, myON is available 24/7 with unlimited, anytime, anywhere digital books on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.

For the past two summers, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has promoted reading through myON and Grade Level Reading. The effort supports the agency’s mission to foster children to grow up healthy with access to enriching educational opportunities.

“Access is an essential part of Get Georgia Reading’s work. It’s one of the four pillars of the campaign,” said Arianne B. Weldon, MPH, director, Get Georgia Reading-Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We’re excited about this partnership with myON because it’s one way to remove the barriers that cause summer learning loss.”

myON is the catalyst for digital reading catching on throughout Georgia. Schools and libraries are ideal partners to build awareness about myON access, and to make reading fun with contests and giveaways.

As one example of how schools are promoting and interacting with free myON access, teachers and students at Van Wert Elementary and the Rockmart Public Library in Polk County created a video that parodies “Footloose” called “Just Read,” which boosts awareness to make reading a fun part of the summer season.

To promote the myON aspect of summer reading, teachers asked students to post photos and reading selfies online using the Twitter hashtags #psdsummerreading and #psdmyonreading. Any student who turns in a completed summer reading sheet from the Rockmart Public Library to their teacher at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year will be able to participate in fun day activities.

Cedartown and Polk County are currently in the state lead with the most books read so far this summer.

Optimistically, myON and Get Georgia Reading want every kid to access digital books or an old-fashioned book.

In 2014, students in Georgia read 3,246 books and spent 845 hours and 11 minutes reading. Students are well on their way in the third week of summer to increasing those numbers.

“The importance of summer reading is paramount, one of the largest issues faced is the fact that not all children have access to books outside of school,” said myON President Todd Brekhus. “For the past two summers, we have partnered with Get Georgia Reading to ensure every student in the state has access to books during summer months to decrease the effects of summer slide. The response to Get Georgia Reading’s campaign has been outstanding.  So far in 2015, we have seen extraordinary growth in the number of books read and time spent reading. The results are clear: when leveraging technology to provide kids a choice in what they read, everyone wins.”

So far this summer, there have been 62,504 books read and 13,839 hours spent reading digital books through myON. Students can access free digital books this summer until August 31.

To log into myON for free access to books, visit The school name is Get Georgia Reading, Georgia’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Username and passwords are both “read.”

— Written by Connie F. Smith-Lindsey and published by the Department of Public Health.