Google, Amazon and Apple all entered the digital book market in a big way in the 2000s.
But one thing that many people found lacking was that none of these companies developed the K-12 ebook market.
For many, this was a much-needed technology, but little was being done about it.
Then along came Sora and made a huge transformation in how young people can read and consume books. The perfect partnership between schools, students and high tech.
Let’s take a look at this app and what it does.
What is Sora?
Sora is a reading app designed for K-12 students from pre-K through high school.
It helps young people to develop a strong reading habit by offering a huge selection of ebooks and audiobooks on its platform.
Students can use the app to borrow ebooks and audiobooks — from almost every genre and read for free. All they have to do is sign into Sora via their school and browse the vast array of books and reading content that their school has made available to them.
The content on the app is from their own school library and their classroom. Students can also borrow any reading material they may need as part of their curriculum at school. or the local library in their town or city.
Schools frequently add access to the local public library in their town or city.
Who is Sora for?
Sora is for students, teachers and schools.
It is an app that can be used for young people in schools, from pre-K to high school.
And teachers can use it as part of their reading curriculum in a variety of subjects.
The app provides technological agency between the teachers and the students to encourage a strong reading habit. With the use of Sora, teachers can check the progress of their students.
The app caters to all levels of reading and makes use of the Lexile reading score. This helps the teachers to create tailored lesson plans for their students according to their ability.
And the app is free to use for the schools, the teachers and the students. The school only pays for the ebooks and audiobooks they make available to their students.
How to Use Sora?
Using Sora is straightforward. It’s designed for younger users — but even grown adults can find their way around it very easily.
Signing in to Sora is very simple.
Find your school and log in with the password.
Now you are in.
To open the menu, click on the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner.
This is where you find how many books you have borrowed. It will also tell you what libraries you are a member of.
To add a library, click on + add library and you can add the details of your school or institution there.
You can change your settings here too.
One great feature is the ability to change the dyslexic font setting.
For dyslexic members, this makes the app more accessible.
There is also a high contrast setting for night reading. And you can change the language too.
Most of the languages are the main European languages. But you can also find Russian, Japanese and Chinese.
It would be great to see some other Asian languages — but they cover most of the world with the languages they have.
Other changeable settings include tab bar labels — you can show the word ‘home’ under the home icon. And you can choose the Continue Reading Orb — so when you tap the orb from anywhere in the app you are on the most recent page of the book you were reading.
Just like Kindle and many other reading apps. But nice to have.
And you can change your ‘holds’ status along with downloads, lending periods and which device to read on — Sora or Kindle.
Standard settings for many other apps, but with some added considerations to include everyone.
Main Home Page
Now let’s go to the main home page.
The items on the home page appear in the following order:
- continue reading
- recent notes and highlights
- recently defined words
- books you might like
This is where you search for books and reading material.
You can find books you want to read by using the search bar on the top of the page.
There is an advanced search option that allows you to search in certain formats and Lexile scores, among other things.
Lexile scores are the reading level and grade applied to the book.
A nice option.
It’s great that the books on Sora are divided into their Lexile scores. This is a very useful addition!
There is also a preferences button that allows you to filter all the choices available in more detail according to your choice.
And finally, a collections button to show you collections.
After this, there are sections for;
- popular subjects (which outlines all the genres available)
- all-access comics
The page continues scrolling in an unlimited feed. This kind of reminded me of the lists choices in Goodreads.
Click on the shelf page and, as you might expect, this is where you find all your books.
They are divided into these shelves;
Quite simple and self-explanatory.
And then finally, there is the Me Page. This is your personal profile page where you can see all your reading stats.
What are the Benefits of Using Sora?
There are many.
It’s probably useful to separate the benefits into three main categories — library and network, reading and features.
Let’s go through them.
Library and Network
Sora has a massive library of books available for schools to choose from. They have books from thousands of publishers.
All in a huge array of genres and styles.
There is, quite literally, something for everyone.
As well as a huge library, Sora is available to over 50,000 schools in America.
The schools can then choose which digital books they wish to offer to their students.
Once the school is connected to Sora, students and teachers can download the app for free and start reading.
Sora can then connect with the school’s own library and also with the local public library.
This is a fantastic resource for teachers who may be doing a class on local history, for example.
Sora provides easy access for students to read.
They have created a smooth transition between the student and reading, allowing each student to access any book they wish to read with one click.
Since Sora was launched, student reading time has doubled in K-12 schools according to company data.
Quite frankly, any organisation that promotes reading to young people at such a scale should be applauded.
Sora has made reading fun again. And made it available to all.
Sora has a lot of features that provide great benefits to the reader.
These are not mere afterthoughts added on to try and make the app appear more snappy. They are of use.
Yes, there are the standard features such as bookmarks, highlights, definitions and synced progress.
But these should be regarded as a given for any reading app.
The most outstanding feature on Sora for me is the dyslexic font setting. This shows real insight and consideration of OverDrive.
A great attempt at the inclusion of all students.
You can also adjust the reading setting. So you can change the font type, font size and lighting.
This is a real necessity for a reading app!
I asked the Sora team if there are any plans to include teaching materials on the app.
As someone who has taught many reading classes, I thought this would be a really great feature.
I was told that OverDrive Education has recently announced the acquisition of TeachingBooks.net.
TeachingBooks provides learning material to over 55,000 schools and libraries.
This could be a really great addition to Sora — both for students and teachers.
As someone who regards reading as one of the most important fundamental life skills a person can have, I love this app.
I value reading as something that can not only help with any person’s educational development but can push them to become a well-rounded person with a very positive outlook on the world.
So for me, Sora really delivers.
It is great for schools, teachers and students to use. It could really be a great boon to any student’s life and encourage them to engage with books and develop a strong reading habit.
If you are thinking of using Sora as a student or as a teacher, I would personally highly recommend it.
Download the app here — Sora — and see for yourself.
Do you use Sora?
Are you a big fan of the app? Or not?
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!