During this time of social distancing, how do I get novels to my students? The challenges of distance learning are immense. As teachers dive into a plethora of new computer programs and resources that haven’t been tried in the past, frustration builds. One question that comes up repeatedly is…how do I get novels for distance learning? Students can’t run out to the shops and purchase them. The answer is free eBooks.
Won’t purchasing eBooks be expensive? No, several websites provide eBooks that are completely FREE. So, take a deep breath and see if any of these sites will work for you.
Websites with Free eBooks
#1 – Borrowing Books through Open Library
Open Library is exactly what the name implies. You can check out digital books for 2 weeks. The website’s goals is to get a copy of every book that was ever published. This means their library is huge. At present 1.7 million titles are available for checkout.
To check out books, you must get a library card. This means providing a username, password, and email address. Once registered you login and begin checking out books.
Open Library also has a section of classic books that you can just click on the button and read without going through the checkout process. Check out their Student Library here.
#2 – Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is the place to download and read over 60,000 free ebooks. The books can be read online or downloaded to computers or Kindles. Think older classics. Gutenberg’s collection includes only books that the U.S. copyright has expired. This means the books were published before 1924.
Check out Project Gutenberg for the classics such as these.
- Black Beauty + Audio
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz + Audio
- Peter Pan + Audio
- The Secret Garden + Audio
- Alice in Wonderland + Audio
#3 – ESL English Bits
I considered the ESL-Bits website a goldmine when I found it a number a years ago. At that time, Bridge to Terabithia and A Wrinkle in Time were both available. Now the number of offered novels has really grown.
BITS is a site full of both eBooks and audio books to help English Language Learners. Full novels are provided for classics, novellas, short stories and popular novels. For each text, audios in two speeds read the stories. Students can follow along while the recording reads the book making it perfect for struggling readers.
Books are divided into collections based on difficulty levels. I recommend checking out the Ambitious Learners section for upper elementary. Note the section contains a mix of books including everything from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace to Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife to the titles linked below. You will most likely want to give students the links to specific novels you wish them to read. Here are a few of my favorites:
#4 – Free Amazon Kindle Books and Free Booksy
Amazon offers many free eBooks. Check out their ‘Top 100 Free’ section.
This link takes you to Amazon’s Kindle Store’s Limited-Time Offers.
FreeBooksy is a website that helps readers find books. It contains a section of Free Children’s eBooks. Most links go to Amazon, but you’ll also find links to Nook, Kobo, Apple, and Google. They have an email signup if want free books delivered to you inbox.
Do you have students with dyslexia, learning disabilities, visual impairments, physical disabilities, or other reading barriers? Check out Bookshare. Students who qualify can read as many books as they wish from a library of over 800.000 titles.
Special ed teachers should check out how to sign up qualifying students for a free membership. Check out Bookshare here.
#6 Mrs. P’s Magic Library
Kathy Kinney, the actress who played Mimi Bobeck on The Drew Carey Show, has a new role. She plays Mrs. P in the Magic Library. Mrs. P reads classic children’s stories. You’ll find Aladdin, The Brave Little Tailor and others. Check out Mrs. P here.
#7 International Children’s Digital Library
If you are looking for stories for K-4, you’ll definitely want to visit Storyline. This site streams videos of actors reading popular picture books.
Check out Storyline here.
#10 Full English Books Online
I discovered this website after the post was written, but it was so a great find I wanted to include it here. This site has over 6000 books. I searched for a few of my favorites. Here are links:
Full English Books Home
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Holes by Louis Sachar
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Where the Red Fern Grows b Wilson Rawls
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner