Racism and 'Dog Man' Dominate Top New Downloads in K–12

While Diary of a Wimpy Kid books may dominate in downloads when students are looking for digital books to read, Harry Potter books top the list when they want to listen to stories. That's the latest report from OverDrive Education, which provides a platform used by schools for delivering ebooks and audiobooks to their students.

According to the usage data from 38,000 schools around the world, the number of digital books accessed by students in 2020 through the company's Sora reading app was almost triple what it was the year before.

To use the program, students locate their school in an online list and log in using school credentials. They can scan through the collection, filtering by various categories, and choose what they'd like to read or what has been assigned to them. Functions include a dyslexic font setting, large text and read-along features for the ebooks; and students can add bookmarks, highlights and notes as they read or listen.

According to OverDrive Ed, the most popular five ebooks for 2020 across all K-12 schools in ranked order were:

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney;

2. Smile series by Raina Telgemeir;

3. Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce;

4. Forgotten Bones by Lois Miner Huey; and

5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

The biggest audiobook downloads were:

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling;

2. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling;

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney;

4. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan; and

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

The five titles for young adults across both categories were:

1. A Long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park;

2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas;

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins;

4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner; and

5. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus.

The company noted that during the year, social justice and civil rights issues showed up front and center for students. They checked out ebooks about slavery, civil rights, gay rights and inequality, including titles from collections donated by OverDrive and their publishing partners. The company noted that books by black authors saw a doubling of circulation across all of the Overdrive platforms in 2020. The most-read titles from the education programs included The Hate U Give by Thomas and Forgotten Bones by Lois Miner Huey.

Among the newest books published, the top five nonfiction ebooks and audiobooks in K-12 that appeared in 2020 were:

1. Stamped — Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds;

2. Coronavirus by Axel Scheffler;

3. A Promised Land by Barack Obama;

4. Almost American Girl by Robin Ha; and

5. Guide to Survival by Mojang Ab.

The top five fiction ebooks and audiobooks published in 2020 were:

1. Dog Man: Grime and Punishment by Dav Pilkey;

2. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins;

3. The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate;

4. Blow the Roof Off! by Lincoln Peirce; and

5. One of Us Is Next by Karen McManus.

More complete lists of popular titles in K-12 downloads are openly available on the Overdrive website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.