Friday, June 20, 2014

Just Read.

It is summer.  A perfect time to  Ahh.  As an adult, I and many other adults understand this simple indulgence, but with kids (especially today's kids) there is a lot competing with their attention and sometimes other things grab their attention and time before books.  I can understand, but we want to make readers out of our kids, so why not shake things up and try something different?  Do you know how many ways there are to find books, stories and reading opportunities for kids out there?  It used to be you had to go get a BOOK.....but these days, you can use a computer, a smart phone, an e-reader or your favorite tablet and the books can come to you.  Read on to learn more about the many ways to find your next reading opportunity.

Number 1 has to be the library.  I am a librarian and libraries offer FREE books, thousands of them!  Organized, at just the right level for every one of your kids and you can find a few for you too.  Don't forget one of the keys to making great readers is modeling the importance of reading.  To find a library near you check out

Libraries cards also open a whole world of electronic books that are also FREE and will come to you.  The catch:  you need a library card for a library.  If you are not in Pennsylvania these links may not work for you.  What you can do is check out YOUR local and state libraries to see if you have the same, similar (or possibly better) resources available to you........OR use the links below to get a library card subscription for out of state residents.

Here in Pennsylvania any resident is eligible to receive a library card from ANY library (I live near Pittsburgh and have cards for all over the state from Pittsburgh, to Butler, to Hershey, State College, even Philadelphia).  The easiest way is to walk into your local branch and ask for one and it will open up almost all of these resources, however there are also benefits from having cards for the larger libraries with more resources.  These links will lead you to learn how to get a card from either the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh or the Philadelphia Free Libraries.

Book Flix.  This is one of my favorite databases because it offers fiction and nonfiction pairs to read and view.  You HAVE to find Knuffle Bunny (warning you will be addicted to Mo Willems and need to find all his other titles somewhere else), because it shows the story in a whole new way that I love.  I imagine Mo Willems actually sitting down and reading to your little one.  It's like that.  Oh and playing I Spy the Pigeon is a hit with any kid too!  They are constantly adding more and it is a vast database to begin with.  Well organized, easy to use and perfect for the 8 and under crowd.  To access visit Book Flix the first time it is a little "adult assistance needed" Go to the website of your local library and find either a link for Book Flix itself or a link for Power Library.  This is the Carnegie library website's link to Book Flix.  The state of PA is generously providing this database to everyone for free through Access PA and Power Library funding.   Once you have found the link, make a book mark for it on your favorite bookmark site for easy and quick access in the future.  Like this but want it for older kids?  Search for TrueFlix instead.

Tumble Books.  This is another great database, but mostly consists of fiction books aimed at the 6 and under crowd.  However they are some GREAT books and I love the options for reading including read to me, or independent reading.  It is not available state-wide through Access PA, but check out your local library's website to see if they offer this database to patrons or access it through either the Carnegie or Philadelphia libraries.

E-Book Services.  Have a reader ready for chapter books or independent reading through their tablet or e-reader?  Libraries offer several different e-book services that through a series of a few clicks will let you find a great book and it is instantly sent to your device.  Setting this up may require a little adult help to begin with, but kids quickly catch on and can take over.  Almost all PA residents have access to popular services like Overdrive, Hoopla(audio books, but also movies), Freading, and EBooks on EBSCOhost.  Again,  check out your local library's website to see what services they offer to patrons or access them through either the Carnegie or Philadelphia libraries.

Outside the library.  Ok I have to admit, not everything HAS to go through the library.  There are many great sites that do not require a library card.  I am focusing on BOOKS, READING and STORY websites today and will try to come back to some of the great educational websites and apps another time.

Barnes and Nobles Online Storytime.  Basically videos of celebrities reading books.  Will work on almost any device.  Never underestimate the power of searching for a favorite book title on YouTube itself too, you might be surprised what you find.  Similar sites include:  Storyline Online, and Between the Lions

Several sites opperate on the same premise of reading the entire book simply to kids, BUT they require Flash player including Highlights for Kids, Read to Me, and my favorite is We Give Books (it does require you to join but it is worth it and free and painless).

Scholastic Listen and Read kicks it up a notch requiring kids to apply basic interactive skills to select what they want to listen to or attempt independent reading.  Not the fanciest books, but a good basic collection worth checking out and book marking depending on your child's interest.  Similar sites include: National Geographic Young Explorer, Professor Garfield's Online Toon Reader, and Curious George (from PBS)

And more.....these are what I consider the best sites but there are MANY more.  Check out this list of even more online sites that will lead to even more books and stories online.

Your favorite online bookstore.  Keep an eye on your favorite online book store.  I admit mine is Amazon.  Visit the kids e-book site and you might be shocked at how many GREAT books you can get for little or nothing in Kindle format on Amazon and the same is true for other book sellers as well. 

Also, don't forget the power of reading the Internet itself.  As a school librarian this is becoming more and more of my job.........teaching kids how to read the Internet, but like fiction and nonfiction it needs to be supported in the home.  Sit down with your kids, search, browse, wonder and explore the Internet looking for sites that interest you and sit down to read them together.  Not sure where to start?  Like dogs?  Check out my dog's blog

Whatever you do, just read!  

Do you know of a site I forgot?  Please comment and share!


  1. Here are some that I've heard people talk about. Can't say I know much about them, yet.
    Book Bub
    Reading Rainbow app

  2. Book Bub and Hundred Zeros are both essentially lists (or e-newsletters) of free or low cost e-books. Great resources but two words of caution: first these have a LOT of content and little is for kids. It is made for adults, I would let kids wander with caution. Also these deals are almost always limited time offers and what was free yesterday may be full price today. Be cautious.
    Kobo is a book store like Amazon, but only provides books in Kobo format. This was the e-reader sold by Borders before they went bankrupt. Not something most people will find useful these days.
    Project Gutenberg is a great database of books in the public domain, so basically classics only. Not where you will find Jeff Kinney's next book, but still a good list.
    Apps---- a topic for another post :-)

    Now Scribd is my favorite because it is very interesting. Basically it is "Netflix for books" a monthly subscription service for books. However they have a limited library and if you are like me you might have read most of the titles they have already. They do have some good ones though, however their kids selection is limited and only worthwhile for a voracious and mature reader over grade 5.