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Help Students Enjoy Summer Reading

by Dr. Bruce Ellis
summer reading

I enjoyed reading Susan Barber’s post on Building Choice Into Your Students’ Reading. In it, she shared several great ideas for teachers to use during the school year to promote a culture of literacy. As a followup to her article, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss resources that you can use and share with your students to promote a culture of literacy over the summer months. Yes, even now as schools are wrapping up the year, many educators are already starting to plan how they can motivate students to interact with meaningful text and, hopefully, build a deeper sense of enjoyment in reading. Below are some resources I picked especially for you for summer reading fun.

Free Books Online

books online imageMost free books are in the public domain, but that doesn’t mean that they are not relevant for our students. But that’s not the only place to find free books. Some parents and students may benefit from signing up for a free month with a particular service even if they don’t plan to extend their usage beyond the complimentary time.

  • Children’s Storybooks Online – This site offers web-based books for young children, older children, and young adult readers. A few have audio provided as well.
  • SYNC – Sync is a free summer audio book program for teens 13 and up. It begins on April 27, 2017, and goes through the summer. Each week, two complete audio book downloads are made available.
  • Open eBooks – Students from low-income families can benefit from these free ebooks, but the school needs to sign up first. Then educators from that school can request access codes to share with students. Each student can check out up to 10 ebooks at a time. The Open eBooks app works on iOS and Android devices.
  • Library of Congress Archive – With more than 150,000 books online, you will definitely want to use the search features to narrow down by topic, collection, creator (author), and/or language.
  • Reading Resource Project – This program that runs throughout the year provides free books (only shipping is required). Many of the sets include 100 books that can be shipped to you for $88.
  • Free Kids Books – Choose to read the books either online or download as a PDF to read offline.
  • Kindle’s Top 100 Free Books – Download and read via the Kindle app or online. Lots of selection choices.
  • Barnes & Noble’s Popular Free eBooks – Access Barnes & Noble’s list of ebooks that you can download and read on the NOOK app. Be sure to use the sidebar options to narrow search results by subject and age of reader.
  • TCEA members are also encouraged to join the iPad in the Classroom Community group where daily announcements are made about free books by Amazon as well as great apps that are available free for a limited time.

Text-to-Speech Readers

text to speech imageMany text-to-speech readers are available that can assist with ebooks. Your device and platform may determine which works best for you.

  • Acrobat Reader – Activate Acrobat’s reader to have your PDF ebook read to you. Voices are limited, but you can adjust the pitch and speed.
  • NaturalReader – You can download NaturalReader to listen to PDF, DOCX, Richtext, and ePub formatted ebooks.
  • Aloud! – This free text-to-speech app works on iOS and accepts plain text, PDF, DOCX, ePub, RTF, and HTML formats.
  • @Voice Aloud Reader – Designed for Android users, you’ll enjoy the extensive list of formats this free app can read aloud (TXT, PDF, DOC, DOCX, RTF, OpenOffice document files, EPUB, MOBI, PRC, AZW and FB2 ebooks, and more).

Summer Reading Lists

summer reading list iconHot off the press, these updated lists can give you and your students some direction of what author to check out, the next series to explore, and possibly a new genre to try out.

  • Summer Reading for ELL and ESL Students – Lots of lists curated and shared by Colorin Colorado for ELL and ESL students. Great resources for teachers and parents.
  • Reading List for New Students at UC Berkeley – Before saying goodbye to your high school seniors, you may want to share with them this list of books for incoming students to Berkeley.
  • Houston ISD Summer Reading List – Enjoy the curated lists provided by the Houston Area Independent School Library Network. Each list is a PDF, making it easy to download, share, and/or print as needed.
  • B&N Summer Reading – Take advantage of Barnes & Noble’s list for summer reading. Keep a journal (provided on website for download) of at least eight titles you read and you can get a free book!
  • NYPL Summer Reading List – The New York Public Library has nicely formatted lists for babies-PreK, grades K-5, teens, and adults.
  • The Ultimate Summer Reading List for 9- to 12-Year-Olds – Melissa Taylor has pulled together a great list of books that will be popular with all upper elementary and middle school kids.

After Reading Activities

after reading activities imageMaking a book more enjoyable can easily be done by including some after-reading activities. Here are  few to get you started. These are great to share with parents as well!

Please share with us your school’s reading list for the summer, your favorite book you read as a kid, or possibly a one that you anticipate reading this summer for fun. We’d love to hear from you!


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