General Bank Street News

Bank Street’s New eBook For Parents And Educators

Posted by Nick Gray on March 16, 2012

Best Books To Read Aloud coverIn Spring 2010, President Elizabeth Dickey announced the annual Innova Grant—a program designed to spur innovation and encourage new initiatives from the College faculty. Each year, winning proposals receive start-up funds for their projects.

One of 2011’s winning proposals, a collaboration from Lisa Von Drasek (Bank Street’s Children’s Librarian) and Jeannie Crowley (Manager of Digital Media and Learning), was to create a low-cost, widely accessible recommended reading list for students, alumni, teachers, and parents—one of the most requested resources at the Bank Street Library.

That project has now manifested in the form of a new eBook, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for their respective eReaders. The following is from the eBook project’s managers.

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Lisa Von Drasek with her eBook

‘The Best Books to Read Aloud’ Goes Digital

When we applied for an Innova Grant for this project, we were interested in the use of eBooks to disseminate the rich intellectual contributions of Bank Street and to revitalize our publishing program. We proposed a pilot publishing program to evaluate whether it was economically and logistically feasible for Bank Street College to publish eBooks through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.

We selected The Best Books to Read Aloud for the pilot because it was easily transferable into eBook format. Although it has been out of print since 2003 and was woefully out of date, it is one of the most requested Bank Street publications by internal and external community members. Although Bank Street’s Children’s Book Committee (CBC) had long wanted to update it, the printing costs were prohibitive.

The Innova Grant provided funding for marketing and technical conversion of content provided by CBC volunteers. Formerly a part of the now defunct Child Study Association, CBC joined the Bank Street community in 1977. CBC has been selecting and evaluating trade children’s books and publishing recommended reading guides for over a century.

Reading aloudCBC Chair Linda Greengrass and Executive Board Member Jennifer Brown guided the volunteers in teams that were charged with updating the read-aloud recommendations by age grouping. As of September 2011, all selected titles were in-print and available at independent and online retailers. The committee members copy edited the annotations and also added a few late breaking titles. 

Committee member Linda Colarusso formatted the data, and graphic designer Greg Costello created the cover art. Jeannie took the final product and prepared it for publishing and documented the workflow to inform future projects. 

After a month of beta testing, we are pleased to announce the eBook is for sale at the price of $2.99 in the following formats:

(Those without an eReader can download a free Amazon Kindle app or a free Barnes & Noble Nook app for computers, tablets, and smart phones.)

Some members of our community asked how the price was determined. Because this is such a valuable resource, it was important to us for the eBook to be affordable and widely available for parents, teachers and caregivers. 

Please let everyone you know, parents, graduate students, alumni, and professional associations that this valuable resource is back and easy to use.

—Jeannie Crowley and Lisa Von Drasek

More About Lisa and Jeannie

Jeannie Crowley is the Manager of Digital Media and Learning at Bank Street College. Her background includes years as a K-12 Special Education teacher with a masters in both elementary education as well as digital media design and learning. She works with members of the college to support innovative uses of digital media. See Jeannie discuss children and technology on YouTube.

Lisa Von Drasek is formerly the Director of the Center for Children's Literature / Children's Librarian at Bank Street. With a background in children’s book publishing, marketing, and product development, Lisa has been eager for years to help Bank Street monetize our intellectual property.

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Photos: Cheryl Simon