Thanks to the efforts of many dedicated professionals and the financial support of many others, there are a wide variety of free/inexpensive sources of books that students can use for classroom activities as well as for enjoyment.
Here is a list of sites offering digital books for children to adults:
Bookopolis is a large collection of fiction and non-fiction books for ages 7-12. Here, students can read, find ideas for new books, review books, and earn badges and points to reflect their love of reading. Teachers sign up with a Teacher account and then set up lessons and accounts for students. Students can practice persuasive writing, comprehension, and typing by completing reviews, reports, and reading newspapers online. Parents can create personal accounts to help students keep track of their favorite books. Books available include Newbery award winners as well as many other reader collections. Kids can even watch book trailers before making a selection.
Books can be read online or on most mobile devices.
This site offers thousands of digitized books, audio recordings, public domain (or non-copyright) DVDs/CDs. This includes Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes, A Tale of Two Cities, Heart of Darkness, and more. They’re great for all ages, not only for reading, but also for researching topics that might have been covered well years ago, but not so much now (like primitive tribes).
You can read them online, on a mobile device or download them.
International Children’s Digital Library
THE ICDL offers over 4,600 digital children’s books in over 59 languages that show tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas. The books are made available from various sources, including the Library of Congress. Readers search by title, author, country or category (or several other options such as ISBN). By creating an account, readers can add tags to books and organize them according to their preferences. Many ICDL books are categorized as “activities,” meaning they’re great for digital storytimes, scavenger hunts, and creative writing exercises.
Most of the books are only available on the website or via a link to the website.
Open library is a curated list of over 20 million books (and growing) that are available worldwide for all age groups, whether public domain or copyrighted. Once you find a book, you access a digitized version (if available, say from Project Gutenberg) or buy it from a linked bookstore.
Access this catalog via the website.
Prism is a collaborative approach to reading books, poetry, and other written materials, whether for class or personal entertainment. It includes thousands of books with comments, notes, and highlights from people who have read them. Notes are color coded so readers can categorize them correctly and let readers know how many people have contributed to the shared entry. Resources include The Raven, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, And The road not taken.
Access this collection via the website.
Listen and read
of scholasticism, Listen and read fifteen non-fiction audiobooks are told through words, images and sound. Elementary and middle school children can read the books or have them read aloud to them. Online activities can be used for individual instruction using a computer, tablet, or classroom instruction on an interactive whiteboard.
The books can be read on the website or on a tablet.
United for Literacy
United for Literacy offers a variety of books that celebrate the languages and cultures of international communities with the goal of cultivating a lifelong love of reading. Aimed at school-aged children, categories include Earth, Animals, STEM, Family, Create & Play, Know & Learn, Technology, and more. Some books are available in several languages and some are audio. The site is beautiful, easy to navigate, with bright, visual and colorful books to attract readers.
Books are read online.
world cat is a comprehensive collection of books, CDs, articles, videos, and more. available in all libraries in a geographic area or worldwide, for all age groups. This includes not only public libraries, but also colleges and universities. Once you locate a resource, you check it out from that local library. You can get help from a librarian, leave comments and reviews, even factual notes (much like Wikipedia).
World Cat only includes libraries that have joined the World Cat group.
Here are paid collections, but very reduced compared to what it would cost to buy the books:
children reset includes hundreds of interactive and animated K-5 e-books covering twenty-seven reading skill levels. Choices include fiction, poetry and songs in English and Spanish (limited availability). Titles include everything from My Body (for A-level readers) to Abraham Lincoln (for Z-level readers). Each book can be read or listened to by the student. Students can even record themselves to practice reading skills such as rhythm and understanding punctuation. As a teacher, you can manage your class, track what’s being read, oversee quizzes, and more. Books are easily distributed to students. When students log into the app, they only see books that match their reading level.
Books can be read online or on mobile devices.
TumbleBookLibrary is a curated database of over 1100 elementary age ebooks. It includes animated books, talking picture books, reading chapter books, national geographic videos, non-fiction books, reading lists, graphic novels, math stories, as well as books in Spanish and French. There are additional libraries dedicated to college and audiobooks. Books include Ramona Quimby, Nancy Drew and a National Geographic collection.
Books can be read online or on mobile devices.
With this wide and varied collection of reading resources, no child should be relegated to the wrong side of the digital divide. Add “book collections” to the column indicating how technology facilitates successful learning.
Here are a few others:
- Active learning–add PDFs of your choice to a library that can be annotated, read and shared.
- Bookopolis– focused on student reading
- books that grow–read a story at different reading levels
- Class literature
- Epic–a reading library for children, 15,000 books; most digital devices
- Fthree books–download one of our 23,469 classic books and read
- Great books online by Bartleby
- Project Gutenberg
- iBooks-an amazing way to download and read books.
- International Library
- Internet Archive— Internet Archive offers more than 12,000,000 free downloadable books and texts. There is also a collection of 550,000 modern electronic books which can be borrowed by anyone with a free archive.org account.
- To light up– read eBooks, newspapers, magazines, manuals and PDF files on an easy to use interface.
- Librivox–free public domain audiobooks
- Faithful books
- Many books-Over 33,000 ebooks that can be browsed by language, author, title.
- Online books page
- Open library
- owl eyes–for the classics
- reading rainbow–book library; free trial
- united for books (free) – beautiful and easy to navigate site.
Check here for an updated list often.
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over 100 technical resources, including a K-12 Technology Program, K-8 keyboard program, K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in technical education, master teacher, webmaster for four blogs, a Voice of the Amazon Vineeditor of CSTA presentations, freelance journalist on technology education topics, contributor to NEA todayand author of technological thrillers, Chase a submarine And twenty four days. You can find his resources at Structured learning.